Groundbreaking Artificial Intelligence art exhibition to open at Somerset House
A truly groundbreaking Artificial Intelligence art exhibition will open at Somerset House on June 18. Entitled Artist+AI: Figures & Form in the Age of Intelligent Machines, it features a new series of works by Scott Eaton, an artist who has worked for Disney and Pixar as well as collaborating with Jeff Koons, Mark Wallinger and Elton John.
Eaton’s work explores the representation of the human figure through various mediums — drawing, sculpture, photography, and generative AI. For this transformative exhibition he utilises the latest Artificial Intelligence technology and for the first time allows viewers to see how this converges with the centuries old practices of drawing and sculpture.
All of the featured works are a result of a dynamic interaction between Scott’s traditionally-trained hand and the AI tools he has ‘taught’ to work as his assistants. In doing so, Eaton, an interdisciplinary artist with a background in anatomy, sculpture and engineering, underscores the impact AI is set to have on art-making and in particular how it will change our perception and understanding of the human form.
‘For as long as humans have made art, the figure has been a primary focus of creative exploration. In each age new tools, techniques and styles influence how the figure is portrayed. Often the tools remain the same — pencil, charcoal, paint, clay — but the style changes — impressionism, cubism, surrealism, abstract expressionism. At certain times, however, there are seismic advances in technology that create entirely new possibilities for representation – photography, moving image, animation … and now AI.’ — Scott Eaton
Eaton creates and trains AI to translate his drawings and animation into photographic, figurative representations as well as abstracted sculptural forms. His interest in this emerging field of AI is not in creating agents that ‘create art’ autonomously, but rather in making art ‘assistants’, AI collaborators that take direction and enhance the creative possibilities available to the human artist.
One of the most exciting works in the exhibition is Eaton’s re-imagining of Peter Paul Ruben’s 1620 masterpiece Fall of the Damned. In order to do this the artist created one thousand hand drawn figures which are then subsequently painted using a trained AI neural network to spectacular effect.
‘In the teaching process, AI learns its ‘craft’ by continually comparing different visual representations — in this instance line drawings and photographs. After millions and millions of views, it gradually begins to understand how to transform a drawing into something photographic, and eventually it learns to faithfully produce figures. At this point it becomes a capable collaborator in the creative process.’ — Scott Eaton
There is global interest in the power of AI across all industries and it seems a number of artists are engaging with it as a new medium, or in Eaton’s case a studio-assistant as well. While instituions and auction houses have cottoned on to the growing interest in AI, as per the Barbican’s current AI festival / exhibition, AI: More Than Human, Eaton’s upcoming exhibition truly offers something unique — the chance to witness the full process of creation.
Indeed, Figures & Form in the Age of the Intelligent Machines is composed of three parts: first, animation showing timelapses of drawings and sculpture emerging from the AI cauldron; second, a series of drawings and prints of the collaborative compositions; and third, a selection of sculptures realised in the round by artist + AI. The work resonates diverse influences ranging from Klimt, Schiele and Bacon to Rodin and Boccioni.
‘The AI has no choice but to do what I ask, no matter how difficult or unreasonable my request. The result is often a wondrous, unexpected, interplay of visual ideas, both mine and the machine’s.’ — Scott Eaton
As Eaton states the results of this unique collaboration are often wondrous and unexpected, I have no doubt that this exhibition will be exactly that.
For more Information:
Somerset House, New Wing, G16, London WC2R 1LA
Opening Hours: 10–6pm
Exhibition Dates: June 18–23