Meet Planet’s First Artist in Residence of 2021 — Holly Grimm

Planet Stories
Published in
4 min readMar 26, 2021
Generated sample from GeoMorphs 2021

Holly Grimm (she/her) is Planet’s first Artist in Residence of 2021. She is a member of the Dinétah (Navajo Nation) and currently resides in Santa Fe, New Mexico. She has a double degree from Stanford University in Studio Art and Engineering (Human/Computer Interface Design).

Credit: Holly Grimm

Her first experience with satellite imagery was working for Earthscan Network where she built a java applet for producing a normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) to measure the health of farmer’s lands.

She loved working with satellite images and was stunned by the beauty of the forms which she saw. They had an aesthetic that was similar to drawings done at Stanford under Nathan Oliveira.

untitled, sumi ink and pigments, 1992. Credit: Holly Grimm

In 2000, she started to work as an independent software developer while continuing her art practice. She did web application development for Healthy Native Communities Partnership and the National Indian Health Board.

untitled acrylic 2014–03–29. Credit: Holly Grimm

After moving back to Santa Fe, she expanded her painting practice with plein air painting and life drawing.

Pilar, Pastel en plein air, 2016–04–10. Credit: Holly Grimm
Life Drawing — Joey, watercolor and ink, 2015–05–10. Credit: Holly Grimm

She first began experimenting with Machine Learning within the context of art as part of Parag Mital’s Kadenze course “Creative Applications of Deep Learning with TensorFlow”. She was immediately fascinated by the painterly quality of the trained models.

Credit: Holly Grimm

As an OpenAI scholar she focused on reinforcement learning and trained an image-to-image translation model on her paintings and drawings. The paper describing this project was accepted into the NeurIPS Workshop on Machine Learning for Creativity and Design in 2018.

Pilar BN-178 Generated by CycleGAN + ACAN, 2018. Credit: Holly Grimm

In 2019, she worked for eight months with six artists to help them incorporate machine learning into their art practice as part of a grant at Google Artist + Machine Intelligence. She trained several voice and image models based on a wide variety of datasets and media.

She expanded her image-to-image translation project from 2018 with the “Subtle Bodies” project trained on her plein air landscapes and life drawings.

Chrysanthemum Flower, GAN-generated, 2019–09–06. Credit: Holly Grimm

In 2020, she created an interface to the GPT-3 model from OpenAI. This served as a tool to assist K Allado-McDowell in writing Pharmako AI, the first book to be co-created with an emergent AI.

Last October she worked with 18 artists, writers, and musicians on a two week project, Aikphrasis Project, where, with GPT-3, she co-curated a set of prompts based on their artistic practice.

Credit: Holly Grimm

Recently, as part of KERNEL Block 2, she designed a decentralized platform for tracking indigenous environmental projects called Dynamiculture. This project will use satellite imagery and IoT edge sensor networks.

Generated samples from GeoMorphs 2021

“Holly’s ability to use technology to turn data into art — harnessing the power of machine learning — truly stood out to us on the selection committee. She expressed a desire to capture how humans change the planet we live on, which resonates perfectly with Planet’s ‘See change’ motto,” says Tanya Harrison Director of Science Strategy at Planet Federal.

As a part of Planet’s Artist in Residence program, she is currently training a Generative Adversarial Network (GAN) on 190k satellite images, for her project GeoMorphs. A second phase will include processing and evaluating satellite imagery for permaculture projects in New Mexico, Arizona, and Kenya.

Holly’s spotlight is a part of Planet’s efforts to highlight Planet’s Wonder Women during Women’s History Month. Here are other ways we’re educating and engaging!