On display at the world’s first AI art gallery in Amsterdam are a series of masterpieces from an alternate universe
True to topic, this article really should’ve been written by ChatGPT or similar software, which arguably would’ve done an equally good if not better job. Journalists and copywriters aren’t the only ones who worry we’ll soon be replaced by a robot or artificial intelligence. Love it or fear it, there’s no denying that AI is here to stay.
Another world this powerful technology is shaking up is the art world, with paintings being entirely created by AI. Although it did take a couple of warm-blooded human beings – Constant Brinkman and Paul Bookelman – to set up a physical gallery in Amsterdam to showcase the works of Irisa Nova, Amalia de la Vega, Lily Chen, and their virtual colleagues.
Programmers by background, the innovative duo began experimenting with chatbots. “As a surprise for Brinkman, I made an artwork using AI,” Bookman said. After creating a few more, they were so blown away by the results that they knew they were onto something. They showed the pieces to a few galleries, but after meeting with resistance – the galleries feared backlash from the artists they represented – they soon struck up the idea of setting up a gallery of their own.
They rebelliously named their venture ‘Dead End Gallery’, alluding to “the end of the established order in the art world”, rather than the tiny cul-de-sac in central Amsterdam where the gallery is situated. Billed as “the world’s first AI gallery”, the space showcases a diverse collection of AI-generated artworks, each bearing the distinctive touch of an AI artist. The artworks span a wide spectrum of styles, from abstract and surreal compositions to hyper-realistic landscapes and portraits.
The masterpieces may have been produced by AI, it still took the ingenuity and patience of a human to feed the software with the right commands and images to build full personas around the artists and create an art exhibition from scratch.
Describing the process, Constant explains they started by asking an AI machine to generate a name for an artist. “We then ask the computer to pretend to be that artist, e.g. Irisa Nova [a name the computer came up with] and ask her to answer questions as if she were a real human, like “Where do you live, where did you study, and what did you do today?” By treating the artist as a genuine individual, Irisa Nova gradually acquires a distinctive personality, her character blossoming with each subsequent interaction. “Finally, we asked her if she’d like to make an artwork for our gallery. She loved the idea.”
From start to finish, the whole process of creating the art exhibition was done by AI – from generating the works of art, writing the accompanying descriptions and curating the series, to deciding the color of the gallery walls, and the pricing and print run of the pieces. While the number of limited editions is typically a round number between 10 and 100, anecdotally the AI choose 42, inspired by Douglas Adams' The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. For computer geeks, the number 42 holds special significance as “the answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe and everything is 42”.
Dead End Gallery pushes the boundaries of what is possible with AI in art. Irisa Nova, whose work invites viewers into a whimsical world of imaginative exploration, embodies this quest. Lily Chen and Maximillian Hoekstra represent a unique lineup showcasing the diversity and potential of AI art. Lily Chen has the singular ability to combine classic creative techniques with contemporary AI, while Maximillian Hoekstra's experimental approaches continuously challenge the definition of what is considered art.
Along with the artworks created by AI artists, there’s also an interactive installation titled 'AIIA - Infinite Infusion' by digital artist Matthias Oostrik on display. Visitors are invited to participate in the artwork by posing in front of a computer screen equipped with a camera. The installation then employs AI technology to generate an infinite number of creative images portraying the visitors, with the images seamlessly morphing into a variety of artistic styles.
The exhibition runs until September 2023.