On learning nature with AI.

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Big Data

We live in an age of scale. Of trillion dollar companies. Of social media followers measured in the hundreds of millions. Of efficiency, consumption, and greed being the greatest of our goals and ideals. And it is into this context that emerges a new technology: Artificial Intelligence.

Making Images

The work, titled “Learning Nature,” is built upon an AI machine learning technology known as Generative Adversarial Networks — or GANs.

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Intelligence

In order to train the system I photographed a range of subjects, creating intentionally small sets of related images. I wanted to see if different environments and subjects might reveal how the code works, or what sort of intelligence developed. For example, how might teaching it with carefully composed images be different from a hodgepodge of snapshots? What qualities from those images might be learned, and then expressed, by the system?

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Early in the generation process.
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The progression of a single image.

Art in the age of…

Machines have been helping humans make art for almost as long as humans have been making art. While early machines were merely artist tools, as we moved into the modern era theorists and art historians increasingly began to hold an anxiety around the role of machines in the practice of making art. This anxiety began with the mass reproduction that came out of the invention of the printing press, and became more acute with the advent of photography.

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In the tradition of an artist working with their atelier, a generated image (left) was used as the source for a human painter. The result is a human-made oil painting (right), based on a machine-generated image, trained on human-taken photographs.

Embracing Beauty

We want to reject the work. It’s kind-of like a photo, but is it? The machine is just trying to copy something, isn’t it? It doesn’t really know what it’s making, does it?

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Exploring other subjects... birds, a pond and farmhouse, the woods.

Written by

Art and AI. www.triplecode.com

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