With artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) entering what were hitherto exclusively human domains – such as writing and driving – it was only a matter of time before artists started experimenting with them. Many exhibition centers and auction houses around the world have become interested in artworks created with AI. The latest in that list is an exhibition to be held in Kolkata later this month. It will be India’s first AI Art solo exhibition, showcasing works by the pioneering artist Harshit Agarwal.
Emami Art, the Kolkata gallery hosting the exhibition, posed serious questions on its website about how AI will shape the artistic landscape. It started with the question of whether AI art is really the future of contemporary art and whether AI is a competition or collaboration. The exhibit, titled EXO-stential – AI Musings on the Posthuman, will attempt to discuss these issues, the gallery said.
Usually, to create an AI artwork, artists write algorithms taking into account a desired visual outcome. These algorithms give broad clues and allow the machine to “learn” a specific aesthetic by analyzing thousands of images. The machine then creates an image based on what it has learned.
After the AI Art form emerged in 2015, the early years were turbulent, leading only to the creation of terrifyingly familiar but alien forms. The field has developed considerably in the past five years. Emami Art said it seeks to showcase the “extensive practice and diversity” of AI art through this solo exhibition.
The exhibition starts on September 11 and lasts until the end of the month. Emami Art described Harshit Agrawal as a “pioneer” in the evolving genre of AI Art and has been collaborating with it since 2015. His work has been nominated twice for the top tech art prize, the Lumen.
On an Instagram post, Agarwal spoke about the exhibition: “Bringing together my #AI art practice of over 6 years since the beginning of this field. Spanning themes beyond the novelty hype to include themes of authorship, gender perceptions, deep-rooted social inequality and prejudice, identity, seemingly universal notions of the everyday – all through this new lens of AI with its unique capabilities for understanding and alienating complex data.Let us consciously interact with this beast in which we are increasingly immersed, rather than of it on its way to the #posthuman to just get sucked in!”