AICAN, GAN, Cryptopunks

A press release sent to journalists by Obvious earlier this year

…. are you ready for the next revolution in art?

Works by these coders/artists are out there for everyone to see!

These are the artists and coders who are using the blockchain and two upgraded and very different algorithms to create art. Two of the revolutionaries in are AICAN and the other is GAN used by the Obvious Group.

OBVIous is a Paris-based collective who jumped over everything and made Art History. Their canvas Edmond de Belamy, from La Famille de Belamy (2018)  was auctioned off at Christie’s. The estimation was $7000.00 dollars and it sold for $432,000.00 Dollars. Yes… you read that right.

Edmond de Belamy, from La Famille de Belamy (2018) by Obvious using GANS

What happened??

What happened was that artists have been using Artificial Intelligence to create art for the last 50 years but in 2014 Ian Goodfellow came up with the concept of dueling networks and GANS are now a cornerstone of contemporary machine learning. In other words, they got smarter. I could go into much more detail but I suggest you look up some of the works and read up about them.

The other contender who developed a complex algorithm called AICAN was developed by Ahmed Elgammal professor of computer science at Rutgers University. His algorithm draws from art historical knowledge with a mandate to create novel artworks. I ran into him at their booth at Scope in Miami Beach during Art Basel where an assortment of the art could be seen. Each artwork AICAN makes is an answer to the question: “If we teach a machine how to recognize art and styles of art, and then program it to create new images that follow the aesthetics it learned, while deviating from established styles, what would it create?” Prices for the artworks were between $16,000.00-to $25,000.00. At the booth.

The other notable mentions are the artists creating blockchain art, from bitcoin graffiti to more sophisticated artworks such as The Last Bitcoin Supper which sold for nearly $3,000.00 on ebay in 2014. Here the artists are taking the authentication of their art to a whole new level as they not only sell you the art but the digital data that comprises their piece. One artist very creatively and nostalgically showcases the blockchain art in print while adding a waxed stamped envelope next to it containing the digital files that one owns once the painting is bought. Clever and romantic.

John Watkinson’s Cryptopunks #1819, #207, #269, #3122, #5127, #6347, #6675, #722, #728, #872, #8773 (2018)

Well, it’s early days in this movement and it is what happens when we bring in artificial intelligence to complement art…like using artificial intelligence to design a better car. What strikes me first is that it is quite interesting when it deals with the human forms or landscapes- an other-worldliness comes out..why did the machine’s algorithm pick the eyes out as important etc. and what does it leave out?… Did the machines decide just to make modern lines and blots..?  Here’s what I think: the machines will get better and we will somehow be forced to think differently. Exciting times ahead…      


(L-R) Anna Ridler, Untitled (from the Second training set), from the series “Fall of the House of Usher,” 2018; Unity Rising by AICAN feautred at the Scope show in Miami; John Watkinson Cryptopunks #722 with digital files included.


Share This:

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.