Art AI is having a moment. There are record-breaking auctions, artistic controversies and debates about the nature of creativity. But here is something new: a sculpture generated by the AI made from the remains of the computer used to design it.
It is the work of New York artist Ben Snell and is currently on sale at the Phillips auction house in London. It is perhaps the third auction of significance of the art of AI in recent months, but it is the first sculpture to undergo the hammer. Christie sold a printed portrait of AI last October while Sotheby auctioned an AI art video installation in March.
Snell's piece, called Dio follows the basic methodology of these earlier works. The machine learning algorithms are used to scan and digest a database of historical works of art, and then try to reproduce the data they have seen, with their output guided by the artist.
In the case of Dio the training data was a file of more than 1,000 classical sculptures (including canonical pieces such as Discobolo and Michelangelo David ), although Snell keeps abreast of the contribution he made in configuring the algorithm's output.
"I choose not to describe the issues of technique and implementation in more depth, because these issues are inherently alienating," said Snell The Verge on mail electronic. "My function is to communicate and contextualize the behavior of Dio in a familiar way, I believe that its processes are very similar to ours: fundamentally different, but surprisingly similar, my goal is not to make Dio is more human, it's to help us recognize ourselves as computational. "
But while humans and machines share certain similarities in how they see the world (why not?) They are not machines are made by humans, after all, it is possible to give too much credit to AI . Some artists who work in this field say that they are simply channeling the creativity of computers and algorithms, but others protest and say that these systems are artistic tools like any other, created and used by humans.
Snell tends towards last position. "I consider myself, not the computer, the artist," he says, but he also speaks enthusiastically about the agency of his algorithms, saying that " Dio began when trying to recreate each memory sculpture that he saw "and that he asked the computer" to close his eyes and dream in a new way. "He says he chooses to use this figurative language because it makes these digital processes easier. s to relate to humans.
But whatever the relationship between Snell and its machine learning systems, it says Dio will be the "first and last" output of its algorithms .
After Snell finished creating the 3D model, he disassembled the computer, made it and grounded it with a specially designed sealed box. This included the computer cabinet, its hard drive, its RAM and its graphics processing unit. He then printed in 3D a mold of Dio and fused the sculpture in this mold with black resin and the remains of the computer.
In doing so, he says, it was an attempt to limit his control over the algorithms. With the data and the training model used to create the form of Dio now converted into literal dust, sculpture exists as a unique and unrepeatable artefact. "And voila!" Says Snell. " Dio emerges with a newly discovered physical agency."