04 August, 2021

All Shapes Derive From The Square

Does AI art signal a ­journey to a post-human future where artists would be mere relics?

Imaginary Landscape by Nao Tokui
All Shapes Derive From The Square

Is the world ready to embrace art made by machines? The hypothesis was put to test by the 252-year-old British auction house Christie’s, during an auction held from Oct­ober 23-25. Portrait of Edmond de Bel­amy, from La Famille de Belamy, a 70x70 cm print on canvas by the French collective Obvious, was bought by an anonymous phone bidder for $432,500, over 40 times the initial Christie’s estimate of $7,000-$10,000. If one were to imagine the origin of this image of an aristocratic gentleman, one would perhaps think of a 17th-century portr­ait studio. A 21st-century AI program would hardly spring to mind. Yet this image is, at least in part, a leap of the machinic imagination. What is rem­arkable is not only its unca­nny resemblance to a past style, but the way it seems to enter the very soul of art: the eerin­ess of the young man’s face, his melting featu­res, pixels fading into oblivion, signifying the effects of time and decay in metaphors of art. It affords you the fundamental experience of art...

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