A woman looks at a work of art created by an algorithm by French collective named OBVIOUS which produces art using artificial intelligence, titled "Portrait of Edmond de Belamy" at Christie's in New York on October 22, 2018.

A woman looks at a work of art created by an algorithm by French collective named OBVIOUS which produces art using artificial intelligence, titled "Portrait of Edmond de Belamy" at Christie's in New York on October 22, 2018.

Last year, a painting called “Portrait of Edmond de Belamy” sold for $432,500 in New York City.

The catch? It was produced by artificial intelligence — one of the first of its kind to come up for auction. And it’s sparked a trend in the art world.

From The Atlantic’s Ian Bogost:

The best way to get away with something is to make it feel new and surprising. Using a computer is hardly enough anymore; today’s machines offer all kinds of ways to generate images that can be output, framed, displayed, and sold—from digital photography to artificial intelligence. Recently, the fashionable choice has become generative adversarial networks, or GANs, the technology that created “Portrait of Edmond de Belamy.” Like other machine-learning methods, GANs use a sample set—in this case, art, or at least images of it—to deduce patterns, and then they use that knowledge to create new pieces. A typical Renaissance portrait, for example, might be composed as a bust or three-quarter view of a subject. The computer may have no idea what a bust is, but if it sees enough of them, it might learn the pattern and try to replicate it in an image.

AI technology does a lot for us. It sorts emails, social media posts and dating app profiles. It queues albums upon request. It answers our questions online.

But what about art? Is AI art just “found art,” or is it something more? Can AI be creative? And if so, how might that redefine what it means to create something?

Show produced by Haili Blassingame. Text by Kathryn Fink.

Guests

  • Marcus du Sautoy Author, The Creativity Code: Art and Innovation in the Age of AI; Professor of Mathematics at the University of Oxford. @MarcusduSautoy

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