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Artificial Intelligence and Art


Edmond de Bellamy, from La Famillie de Bellamy created by Obvious, a French group; was auctioned and sold for $432,500 at Christie´s, a British auction house. The big difference with this painting is how it was created. It was not created with brushes, pigments, canvas, paper or even a painter. The secret of this painting is the use of Artificial Intelligence. According to Obvious webpage, the creation process consists of data selection, image creation, training and production. In a nutshell, on the train process images are generated based on the selected paintings and that occurs until the machine cannot distinguish between created images and real images, finally the painting is enhanced and printed. The algorithm is named “Generative Adversarial Networks” and it has a lot of creative power on its own.


 AI-Generated art, see here

What is art?

The process of questioning for the only sake of the question is a tiring process that might not leave you anywhere. Understanding that not all the things are supposed to be useful has to be learnt. If you look for answers, the world will be presented in a completely different way. Answering art questions is complicated but being scared of questioning is not an option. We should question all.

If the algorithm is built under the idea of giving it creative control, is creative process art? Can machines make art? Is Edmond de Bellamy beautiful? Is art all about beautifulness? Who is the artist, the developer or the algorithm on its own? Who is being creative, developers or machines? Who are in the system, classic painters or machines?

Art is related with esthetic experiences, with sensibilities, with first impression; with emotions, therefore with beauty.  Art can be defined in a variety of ways:

  • As imitation, in other words, representing what is real. A duplication of the object.
  • As expression, a duplication of the subject. Looking at the artist. The big problem here is, who is the subject? Who is expressing, is it the developer selecting for the paintings? Or is it just the computer trying to separate what is real from what is not?
  • As beauty production. What is beauty?
  • As revolution or collision. Is art a merchandise? What Edmond de Bellamy means? Why creating things with artificial intelligence?
  • Is there a definition? Art is what an artist makes.


In a world where everything in the market is beautiful in order to seduce, what makes a painting or a sculpture different?  When art becomes a merchandise, there is no difference. Should art be able to be reproduce? Like music or a simple copy of a painting. Is art for everybody? The concept of Kitsch is related to the industrialization of art, the aesthetic appropriation from any consumer.  How do we make our life more beautiful? Is it through consuming beautiful things? Like clothes, accessories, tattoos or taking care of our image. Or is it through what is different, recreating us. As Frederic Nietzsche said through a permanent creativity?

Edmond de Bellamy is not the first AI painting, there had been some others that appeal more to abstract or conceptual inclinations. Is important to show the results out of the museums, out of the elite. Like postmodern art, disruption through experimentation without a utopic bash.



Art is context, we live in a world full of history and culture: “art is produced in a context”. And nowadays we are living in machines and techné world and this painting clearly represents that. We have taken out the human and placed the machine, “the rational”, in the top; dehumanizing everything, in favor of the machines. We are allowing computers to tell us what is beautiful and what is not and in the same time what is real and what is not, based on beauty or artistic common-assumptions.

It is not about how beautiful the painting is, or about the worth of it but about looking forward other ideas. Unfortunately, I have not found any art perspective or theory from Obvious. In other words, if they think they are doing art? But I like how art is being reinvented, based on research and allowing other players in the art context. What I like of this painting the most, is that it makes us wonder about artificial intelligence, and remember us to question art world. Art is not to be understood, it is to create dissonance, dislike. In the end, what is artificial intelligence for? What is it possible to do? What is art?