Christie’s Is First to Sell Art Made by Artificial Intelligence, But What Does That Mean?

One of the noticeable events of 2018 in the Art world was the first sale of A.I. (Artificial Intelligence) Art at Christie's. The outcome was fairly surprising: Paris-based art collective Obvious’ ‘Portrait of Edmond Belamy’ sold for $432,500, nearly 45 times its initial estimate.

Following this came a controversy regarding how this art was generated and the aesthetics of it. Regarding the former, it seems that from their own word, the group did borrow a lot of the code used to generate the images from other coders, which to me is fair enough since the code is public. The original authors of the code complained that little acknowledgement was given to them, but in the end there was no foul play. The used date open to everyone to build their dataset, and ran code from public repositories.

 

Comte de Belamy (courtesy Obvious)

 

On the aesthetics side, some critics have called those printed paintings the work of a 5 year old kindergarden child. In this respect I would argue that possibly because of a lack of computational resources the number of GPU cycles invested to produce those works didn't seem enough to produce something of pleasing aesthetic value. Lets call it A.I. Art version 0.9. It is definitely at the avant-guarde but not yet polished to the extent that it can be so that critics turn positive rather than negative. 

Thanks to our innovative approach, we are proud to propose Art which can finally be call version 1.0 , that is ready for production, ready to be shown to the world.

Like for any new art movement it is important to give it a theoretical founding, and we have developed the idea of "Latentism" which is described in another post in this blog. "Latentism" is a much more appropriate name for what we do than the uber-technical anacronym GAN-ism. GAN is just the name of a tool, and so far there are no art movements called pencil-ism or chalk-ism or brush-ism, so it this occasion again no reason to call it GANism. Only an engineer can dream up such a name. 

Art is beyond techniques, art is beyond tools. It is what stays after civilizations collapse and what we should respect and promote in our society.