Where is Generative Art headed?

Beth Jochim, Director and Co-Founder at Cueva Gallery. Twitter: @_bblurred

 

When last October Christie’s sold a GAN-generated portrait painting titled “Edmond de Belamy” for the unexpected amount of $432,500, it was clear that something new was happening in the art world. All of a sudden journalists and newspapers were concerned with the machine-artist that could compete, challenge and perhaps overcome the human one. This has triggered discussions of various kinds, including the aspects of creativity, and where this new genre will bring the art world.

A spokesperson for Christie’s has commented on the result of the auction, saying, “We can confirm there were 5 different bidders from all parts of the world competing for this lot at that high price level, which seems a good indication of collector interest and future market potential for AI art generally. Overall it is a credit to the talents of many artists working in this space”[1].

Obvious, “Edmond de Belamy

However, this does not seem to reflect what Mario Klingemann and Anna Ridler — two artists who work with code and data — think on that matter. In fact, they feel the art market’s relationship with Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence is still in its infancy [2], and maybe this is partially due to the fact that the public is not exposed to or prepared to embrace a kind of art which is quite different from the traditional one.

Only time will tell. At the moment, there is a risk of creating a niche of “nerd collectors” and limiting the experience for those who do not have a deep understanding of the technical aspects that this genre brings. But the lack of skills in Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning should not become an obstacle. After all, “art is an experience, not an object” — as Robert Motherwell has said — and Generative Art is worthy of the democratization of its value and potential. We need to give people tools and means to understand it, before they can appreciate it. Perhaps a way to accelerate this process would be for the art world to understand how the work of the artists is changing through and with these technologies, and how this can impact the perspective of the buyers.

A significant step towards the promotion of Digital Art and the connection of artists with the public has been made by the art fair called CADAF: The Contemporary and Digital Art Fair that took place this May in New York City. The fair has been a success in bringing a great opportunity for digital artists to promote and sell their work, as well as showing the broad variety of digital art practices (i.e., from traditional media to Virtual Reality, from Augmented Reality to Artificial Intelligence to blockchain) [3]. The event has been hosted by the New Art Academy which is working on education about art and innovative technology, making information available and accessible to professionals around the world and promoting networking. According to Elena Zavelov, founder and CEO of the New Art Academy, the interest in AI pieces from big names — such as Christie’s and Sotheby’s — would be a indicator that the market is more and more ready for digital art.

From CADAF, Left: “Ice Breaker” by Dmitri Cherniak , Right: “Turbulent Figures: Step I” by Dmitri Cherniak

What’s coming?

June will be a month rich of interesting events, fairs and festivals. Here, we present a small selection of them that focuses on aspects of creativity, community building and innovation.

The Eyeo Festival will take place on June 3–6 in Minneapolis and its main goal is to “converge to inspire”. It is a place for creativity, for meeting talented people and for getting inspired and energized by talks, unique workshops, technology, tech+summit and much more. Dave Schroeder, the founder of the Festival, has written a post about his reasons for this event and what it is really about.

Noma, the UK’s first creative & innovation district, will welcome iDAF the International Digital Art Festival to Manchester on 27–28 June. The event is a partnership that involves SuperRare, DADA.nyc, Blockchain Art Exchange and KnownOrigin and will include a Digital Art gallery, large displays, interactive artworks, keynote speakers, workshops and a live art auction. David Moore, the mind behind the Festival, has commented on the event, saying that: “The main focus of iDAF is to bring the tech and art communities together. We believe that having an event that allows innovators, entrepreneurs and creatives to experience digital art in immersive ways will ultimately lead to new ideas and collaborations.”[4]

…and next?

Christie’s Education and Hyundai will hold a joint event called the Art+Tech Summit: The A.I. Revolution in New York City on June 25th. The summit will offer an impressive program of lectures, panel discussions and talks and will explore the ways in which Artificial Intelligence is impacting in the art world, as well as its potential implications for the future. The event will also include a special multimedia exhibition featuring Yugen and TRANSFER Download.

From Yugen, an AI artwork that generates perpetually moving images [5]

The CEO of Christie’s — Guillaume Cerutti — has commented on the event, saying: “As the world’s leading art business, Christie’s is at the forefront of the conversation about the intersection of art and technology. For our second annual Art+Tech Summit, we are honored to bring together leading experts, influencers, and creative minds, who are redefining the art world with respect to technology, and changing the way art is created, experienced, and circulated.” [6].

This gathering has the potential to become a change maker in the ongoing discussion about Artificial Intelligence and Art, and to establish trends in the digital art market. Art is an expression of thoughts, emotions, and desires. It is about sharing our vision of the world in a process where artist and viewer are co-creating an experience. In this, Generative Art is not different and the hope for the summit is to consolidate the good work done by other stakeholders committed to bringing innovation, technology, the public and artists together in a more and more inclusive way.

At this stage it is premature to speculate too much about the future. What seems to be happening now is the fact that a new class of artists with a strong technical background is formed. These artists are welcoming generative technologies as ways to amplify their creativity and experimentation, sometimes combining them with traditional techniques and sometimes using them as a tool and a medium. But what has not been thoroughly discussed yet is the position of more traditional artists who have not had the chance to approach and incorporate these technologies into their work. We, at Libre AI are very interested in having a better idea about the participation of those artists in digital art fairs and festivals, as well as if those events are already engaging them.

What are your thoughts about where Generative Art is headed? Leave us your comments here or in Twitter @libre_ai .∎

References and Resources

[1]The Real Future of Art and Artificial Intelligence, With Mario Klingemann and Anna Ridler: https://www.mutualart.com/Article/The-Real-Future-of-Art-and-Artificial-In/D741A0C0C602F7E5

[2] The Real Future of Art and Artificial Intelligence, With Mario Klingemann and Anna Ridler: https://www.mutualart.com/Article/The-Real-Future-of-Art-and-Artificial-In/D741A0C0C602F7E5

[3] New Art Academy Founder Elena Zavelev: ‘The Market Is More and More Ready for Digital Art’: https://observer.com/2019/05/new-art-academy-founder-elena-zavelev-the-market-is-more-and-more-ready-for-digital-art/

[4] SuperRare.co, DadA.nyc, Blockchain Art Exchange and KnownOrigin join forces!: https://medium.com/international-digital-art-festival-idaf/superrare-co-dada-nyc-blockchain-art-exchange-and-knownorigin-join-forces-7b6829282368

[5] Full interview with director Martha Fiennes and leading actress Salma Hayek Pinault on Christie’s website: https://www.christies.com/features/Martha-Fiennes-and-Salma-Hayek-on-Yugen-9431-3.aspx?PID=mslp_related_features1 )

[6] Art+Tech Summit: The A.I. Revolution: https://www.christies.com/presscenter/pdf/9355/RELEASE_Art%20%20Tech%20Summit%202019%20anouncement_9355_1.pdf


About the author: Beth Jochim is the Creative AI Lead at Libre AI, and Director and Co-Founder at Cueva Gallery. She works at the intersection of technology and arts. She is actively involved in different activities that aim to democratize the field of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning, bringing the benefits of AI/ML to a larger audience. Connect whit Beth in LinkedIn or Twitter.


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