Embracing Your Inner Algorithm: Part 3

Old, NEW Masters

It’s not just music that lends itself to algorithmic creativity. Chris Evan’s quip about AI painting ‘a new Picasso’ has materialised already through a process that detects the ghostly hidden images of paintings beneath some of the famous works we know so well. Picasso’s ‘The Old Guitarist’, for example, has the presence of a woman’s face beneath the surface image. Anthony Bourached and George Cann at University College London used a technique called neural style transfer to bring it back to life.

ING, Microsoft, Delft University of Technology, The Mauritshuis and Museum Het Rembrandthuis’s project:  ‘The Next Rembrandt’ 

The collaboration is inspiring – to create a painting in the style of Rembrandt wasn’t a shew in for genius though. By calibrating a range of portraits – 346 to be exact – by the Dutch master, which included lighting, style, costume and distances between facial features, The result elicited a comment from one critic that the work was:

“a horrible, tasteless, insensitive, and soulless travesty.”

anonymous critic, after discovering that the painting was made by AI

There’s obviously a commercially expedient possiblity of exploiting this ability to re-create or create your very own ‘old master’ from scratch.  In the future you could hang a few ‘original’ oils-on-canvas in your lounge. Although not at the moment: a 2018 AI-generated painting titled “Portrait of Edmond de Belamy” recently sold for $432,500 at a Christie’s auction.

But where is the history? Where is the story? Even though you might feel cheated when you realize something was made by AI, you’re responding to something that ultimately had its source in the human, or to a kind of invitation to partake.

Having said that, witness O man the auction frenzy for a self-portrait of a robot