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With artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) making inroads into what were hitherto exclusive human domains — like writing and driving — it was only a matter of time that artists too began experimenting with it. Many exhibition centres and auction houses around the world have begun taking interest in art pieces created with AI. The latest in that list is an exhibition set to be held in Kolkata later this month. It will be India’s first solo exhibition of AI Art and will feature works of 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 by asking whether AI art is truly the future of contemporary art and whether AI is a competition or collaborator. The exhibition, titled EXO-stential – AI Musings on the Posthuman, will try to discuss these issues, the gallery said.
Usually, to create a piece of AI art, artists write algorithms keeping in mind a desired visual outcome. These algorithms give broad directions and allows the machine to “learn” a specific aesthetic by analysing thousands of images. The machine then creates an image based on what it has learned.
After the AI Art form came into existence in 2015, the initial years were turbulent and only led to the creation of hauntingly familiar yet alien forms. The field has developed considerably in the last five years. Emami Art said it is trying to present the “enlarged practice and diversity” of AI art through this solo exhibition.
The exhibition will begin September 11 and will last till the end of month. Emami Art described Harshit Agrawal as a “pioneer” in the developing genre of AI Art and has worked 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 inception of this field. Spanning themes beyond the novelty hype to explore themes of authorship, gender perceptions, deep rooted social inequities and biases, identity, seemingly universal notions of the everyday- all through this new lens of AI with its unique capabilities of complex data understanding and estrangement. Let’s engage consciously with this beast we’re increasingly being immersed in, journeying into the #posthuman, instead of being simply sucked into it!”