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India’s first Artificial Intelligence art exhibition and the future of AI in art

Earlier this year, Nature Morte hosted India’s first ever exhibition on artificial intelligence art — Gradient Descent. The Delhi-based gallery joined hands with 64/1, a curatorial collective which focuses on building people’s understanding of how artists and artificial intelligence can come together to create art for the post-human age. Together, they brought the works of seven artists from across the globe, who create artwork by the collaboration between man and machine, and the artist is a cyborg.
With the growing global dialogue on AI in art, we speak views and the way forward for artificial intelligence art with Aparajita Jain, Co-Director at Nature Morte.

Artist Tom White for Gradient Descent, India's first artificial intelligence exhibition at Nature Morte Gallery (Delhi)
By Tom White
What prompted you to bring an Artificial Intelligence art show to India?

We encountered the genre of AI art quite smugly–I was certain that creativity is one domain which is exclusively human. But as I delved deeper into this and in conversations with our curators, Raghava KK and Karthik Kalyanaraman, I discovered that AI art is remarkably complex and sophisticated, with the potential to change the way we understand art! There was certainly a need for us to kickstart a conversation on AI and creativity in India, the show gave us the chance to build a strong public dialogue on this.

How was the patrons' response to the exhibition? Is there a market for AI art in India?

The audience response has been spectacular! We’ve seen record visitor footfalls, newsletter clicks, email reads. There’s a lot of interest and curiosity from patrons, but we’re seeing young, cutting-edge collectors invest and engage with the works. The recognition of AI as a player in art is inevitable, some of the leading institutions of the world are integrating AI art into their programming: Pierre Hugye’s show at the Serpentine, the landmark Christie’s auction, our show in Delhi are the first steps in this direction.

Does AI art threaten human creativity or has the capability to act as a tool to augment it?
Artist Nao Tokui for Gradient Descent, India's first artificial intelligence exhibition at Nature Morte Gallery (Delhi)
By Nao Tokui

I think it’s about how we define human creativity and the barriers we place on the human condition. The idea of ‘transcendence’ is crucial to understanding how we relate to and understand the future, and AI’s contribution to the creative arts plays a big role in that.

With the continuing debate on the topic, how does one discern the blurred lines of where human involvement ends and AI art starts?

I think our exhibition is a great way to explore this question. Our seven artists have used neural networks and developed distinct training sets, or the information given to the AI. For one our artists, the training set was watercolors made by hand; for another it was a dataset of surgical dissections!

A certain section disagrees with AI art being legitimate art. What is your take on this non-acceptance?

I believe AI art is here to stay–as a genre and as a philosophy in art. It’s intellectually rooted in our ability to transform new technologies. The established collectors are carefully watching the market, and with record sales like Christies, things are looking up.

What is the way forward for art created using AI?

I think the way forward is more exhibitions, shows, dialogue and programming around AI art. The field is new and still revealing exciting possibilities! We’re keeping an eye out for what artists will do with emerging technologies.

Megha Uppal
Senior Associate Editor
An innate love for travel and food has translated into many a trips since childhood for Megha; it also fed her curiosity to know about local cultures. When not writing, she is on the lookout for three things: A great dark chocolate dessert, a beautiful pool where she can practice her backstroke, and art that she can save up for.
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