The Deep AI Art Fair, now held in Shoreditch, is a showcase of the latest emerging artists making art with artificial intelligence. The fair, curated by Eulan To, Stephene Bejean-Lebenson and Erin Lait, brings together decades of experience in the emerging scene. The catalog is wide and the technology used is often complicated, learned, and requires a great deal of understanding to grasp what is being accomplished to create the paintings and sculptures that fill the space. No doubt there is some technical wizardry at work. What I found most striking about the landscape, however, is not the mechanical acrobatics, but the impressive effect of the completed work. Equal parts hypnotic, unsettling, and creating a perspective quite alien to traditional styles.
Daniel Ambrosi’s Bryant Park ‘(Before the Virus) Infinite Dream’ is a fantastic example of this. He is represented by the Morf Gallery and has used an improved version of the “Deep Dream” software from Google engineer Alexander Mordvintsev to process the evening photography of Midtown Manhattan. Again, the engineering feat of mixing and replicating square sections of the landscape to create an orderly and chaotic staging at the same time is certainly great, but seeing the work in person adds a quality that requires a visit to the fair. While the more determined post-Covid hermits can certainly reproduce the effect with a couple of HDMI cables and downloading a JPEG from Twitter, it approaches work from a distance that really gives its novel qualities. The unpredictable repetition of the scenes distorts your perspective as you move forward and reproduces the cinematic effect of a dolly zoom from a static image. As you sneak up to the LCD screen hanging on the wall, the smaller repetitions of the same scene jarring your approach in real time and, while a little disturbing, feel genuinely unique.
The gallery exhibition of AI art underscores the privilege of these experiences, which function throughout the exhibition space as a series of isolated and very radically different ways in which human visitors can interact with their artificial creation. Like a virtual – albeit often physically imposing – smörgåsbord of technology and visual flair, visitors from the NFT room of the procedural sculptures (karan4ds The Data, 2020 is outstanding alongside Deep’s own NFT GAN_MAN_Style) can wander through the latest installation by Bill Posters Hacktivist– Deepfakes and bounce over a pretty fancy row of pistons sucked onto the booth floor. When I visited, my first impression was that the staff were still under construction, but it just so happened that this particular set of plumbing tools was an example of Alexander Reben’s new absurd AI-inspired sculpture. Also known for his visual AI work “Deep Dream” – “Deeply Artificial Trees” hangs in the back of the room and shows a video that gradually turns a Bob Ross painting tutorial into a chaotic mess of animals during the Google’s algorithm got out of hand – this latest piece of work has turned to text-based AI to generate three-dimensional works. “The Plungers” is something of a “collaboration” between Vines and one of those AI programs in which the artist responded to the AI’s suggestions in an absurd reversal of the usual paradigm for this art. Plastered on a nearby pillar, you can read the computer-generated description of the artwork that inspired Vines to line them up. Strange enough to cause a smile, and then unsettling when the implications of the artificially propelled sculpture and installation begin to condense on the subway ride home, they are unexpectedly provocative.
The works shown here can be seen until October 17th and show the male potential of London’s AI art scene. Looking ahead, maybe the overwhelming feeling the show creates is the sense of urgency and anticipation. These new tools for manipulating and changing the subjectivity of the art world’s audience are subtle at first, but always point to a growth spreading beyond the horizon. Of course, AI art would point to the future, and visitors should be prepared for new excitement about what’s to come.
Jasper Spiers is an art writer based in London, UK. He has been published in The Spectator, MoneyWeek and FAD Magazine with articles examining the philosophical mechanisms of contemporary works of art and the cultures around them.
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