Step into the strange sculpture exhibition created by an artificial intelligence programme
Could computers develop an artistic soul?
That is the question posed by artist Zachary Eastwood-Bloom, who has opened an exhibition of artworks created by artificial intelligence at the Museum of Classical Archaeology in Cambridge.
Zachary fed images extracted from paintings and 3D models of Greek and Roman sculptures into an AI programme.
Simulacra is the resulting exhibition of sculptures created by the AI, which look like famous works viewed through a glass darkly, as if pixelated or distorted into something new and unexpected – still recognisable, but only just.
Zachary said: “I've always been fascinated by an intersection between classical figures and imagery, and digital technology. I've done quite a few bodies of work in that area.”
The sculptures are displayed next to 19th-century plaster casts of Greek and Roman statues that are on permanent display in the museum.
During the machine learning process, Zachary dismissed many of the AI programme’s designs but was taken aback by the strangeness of some of the creations.
“I think my favourite sculpture is one I have called seated female, which is a title that I don’t think gives it enough credit,” he says.
“There’s something very odd about it. The way it sits; it has a leg, it has a head and shoulders. I’m not sure where its arms are. I think it’s the oddest of them all.”
One of the methods the AI used was to draw a box around a classical bust and then take measurements from the edge of the box to the bust. It started to create busts based on what it learned from those measurements.
By using machine learning in his artistic process, Zachary explains he is exploring the ways in which technology can be used to push the boundaries of traditional art forms. His sculptures and images are not simply copies of classical works, but rather, they are unique creations that aim to challenge preconceived notions of what art can be.
He says: “There has just been a call for a halt to work on artificial general intelligence until we understand the risks involved because what we have seen so far feels like a giant leap. We might not be ready for such a big step. So I want people to question what their attitudes are.”
- Simulacra is on display at the Museum of Classical Archaeology inside the Faculty of Classics in the Sidgwick Site, just off Sidgwick Avenue. It is open to the public Tuesday-Friday 10am-5pm, and on Saturdays during university term-time only until June 11.