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San Francisco's "Artificial Imagination"

This year has proved to be a year of impact and innovation for artificial intelligence (AI) technology. The cutting-edge technology has been controversial in the art world, as artwork created by artificial intelligence has been banned from various art competitions and communities. As the art world delves deeper into the conversation of artwork generated by artificial intelligence, a new art exhibit in San Francisco features artwork that is created exclusively from artificial intelligence image generators. The new exhibition at San Francisco’s bitforms gallery, titled “Artificial Imagination,” displays the work of eight different American-based artists through the end of 2022. 

Alexander Reben's Zippers, 2020

“Artificial Imagination” is the first art exhibit that has exclusively featured AI-generated images, videos, and sculptures. It is inspired by and created using the DALL-E system, an AI image generator that renders realistic images from user input. Some of the pieces in the exhibit are created entirely by the program, while others used the program’s recommendations to create a unique piece based on the script. For example, featured artist and MIT-trained roboticist Alexander Reben received instructions for how to create his sculptures through the AI, displaying the AI-generated instructions next to his artwork. 

Ellie Pritts's Bitter Recursion, 2022

Artist Ellie Pritts’ Bitter Recursion is an abstraction of blues, greens, and oranges, with a humanoid face in the center. Pritts, whose work “explores reinterpreted nostalgia via recursive analog and digital processes” created the image using the DALL-E system and a single text prompt. 

August Kamp's but you promised, 2022

August Kamp Views DALL-E “as an imagination interpreter.” Her piece but you promised features an image generated from the text prompt “cosmonaut who is experiencing heartbreak on another planet.” Kamp says, “Conceptualizing one’s ideas is one of the most gate kept processes in the modern world.” The pieces in the exhibit range in price from $2,500 to $5,000, with NFT registration included. 

The endless possibilities of artwork generated via AI raises ethical questions of what is considered art. AI programs are usually accessible and free to the public at large, expanding the access of technology to wider audiences. Bitforms explains the gallery as: “The exhibition seeks to contextualize AI as an art-making apparatus, similar to those that have already entered the canon of art history.” Yet, they are feared as threats to human creativity. Is AI-generated artwork a new way of bridging together technology and creativity, or is it the end of human creativity and exceptionalism? 

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