London’s robotic artists
Artificial art is all the rage in London right now. How different is it to the rest of the art world?
High profile projects, like the Kinetica Art Fair and a robotic recreation of the Last Supper, have been gaining more and more attention in London. And so has The Painting Fool, a new Artificial Intelligence programme that creates new work, without human involvement.
Kinetica Art Fair brings together artists who focus on kinetic, electronic, and robotic art. It’s produced by the Kinetica Museum and is the first of its kind in the UK. Although it has a strong claim to feature some great art, it still suffers from reviews like one in listings magazine Time Out, which said the fair is “lots of cool stuff that moves.”
So although it’s where some of the most interesting and creative artists are working right now, the sector is still looked down on by the rest of the art world as shallow.
A new display at Black Rat Projects in East London shows what robots might talk about if they sat down for a last supper together. And any work referencing the last supper relies on heavy religious overtones. The artist Giles Walker, who spent a year on the piece, says he aimed to “create a snapshot of how I see religion in the 21st century, focus on how religion treats its children and the role they are forced to play within it.” But any message seems lost in the creepy but impressive robotics.
Away from the distractions of robots and other “cool things that move”, the most interesting artificial art in London is being created by a computer programme.
The Painting Fool is a project by Dr Simon Colton, a researcher in computational creativity at Imperial College, London. It uses either external stimulus - a photo, say - as inspiration or it can sense a person’s mood and respond to that.
The Fool itself says “The aim of this project is for me to be taken seriously - one day - as a creative artist in my own right. I have been built to exhibit behaviours that might be deemed as skilful, appreciative and imaginative.”
This all puts into context some of the art blockbusters in London right now. Top of the listings is the new Damian Hirst exhibition, stuffed with work created initially by Hirst but now almost exclusively by assistants. Hirst has only painted 5 of the 1400 spot paintings in existence.
So a computer can create new work responding to its initial programming, or Hirst can instruct his assistants and then jet off on holiday to spend his millions. It’s hard to know who is the real Painting Fool - but it’s certainly not Hirst.
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