With artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) making inroads into what were once exclusive human domains – like writing and directing – it was only a matter of time that artists began to experiment with them too. Many exhibition and auction centers around the world began to take an interest in pieces of art created with AI. Last on that list is an exhibition to be held in Calcutta later this month. It will be the first solo exhibition of AI Art in India and will feature works by pioneering artist Harshit Agarwal.
Emami Art, the Calcutta gallery that hosts the exhibition, posed serious questions on its website about how AI will shape the artistic landscape. It all started by asking whether AI art is really the future of contemporary art and whether AI is a competition or a collaborator. The exhibition, titled EXO-stential – AI Musings on the Posthuman, will attempt to address these issues, the gallery said.
Typically, to create an AI piece of art, artists write algorithms with a desired visual result in mind. These algorithms provide general guidelines 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 came into existence in 2015, the initial years were turbulent and only led to the creation of frighteningly familiar but strange shapes. The field has developed considerably over the past five years. Emami Art said it is trying to showcase the “extended practice and diversity” of AI art through this solo exhibition.
The show will start on September 11th and run until the end of the month. Emami Art described Harshit Agrawal as a “pioneer” in the developing genre of AI Art and has been working with him since 2015. His work has been nominated twice for the Lumen high-tech art award.
In an Instagram post, Agarwal spoke about the exhibition: “Bringing together my #AI artistic practice of more than 6 years since the beginning of this field. Covering themes beyond novelty hype to explore themes of authorship, gender perceptions, social inequalities profoundly ingrained and prejudices, identity, seemingly universal notions of everyday life – all through this new AI lens with its unique capabilities of understanding and estrangement of complex data. Let’s consciously engage with this beast we are increasingly immersed in, traveling to the #post-human, instead of just being sucked into it! “