What does the emergence of AI models mean for generative art? NFT artists and curators weigh in | artnet news


Overall NFT trading volume is down 97 percent from its 2021 high, but the crypto art horizon can boast one bright spot: the medium and market of generative art.

On December 1 at Art Basel Miami Beach, Tezos and FXhash take the spotlight at the exhibit “Performance in Code: Deciphering Value in Generative Art.” Emerging generative artists such as Ivona Tau and Tyler Boswell will be featured, and visitors can build their own generative NFTs.

The exhibition follows the opening of Refik Anadol’s solo exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, where generative art is given a major museum exhibition. On display is the artist’s latest data-driven architectural installation, created by feeding data from MoMA’s own archives – from photos by Hans Hacke to paintings by Cézanne and van Gogh – all into code that generates random-based waveforms and geometric shapes.

Such institutional recognition follows respectable, if cautious, market interest. Throughout 2022, major auction houses Christie’s, Phillips and Sotheby’s have been selling generative art, with the last auction in April raising a total of $2.3 million. Art Blocks, the platform founded by Erik Calderón (aka Snofro), largely responsible for popularizing on-chain generative art, is doing remarkably well despite the crypto bear market: its market cap as of September 2022 The limit is more than $841 million.

But even if generative art can weather the NFT market (the recent fall of FTX’s spectacular crash), the recent mainstreaming of AI technology could spur further change in the field.

Vera Molnar, (dis)order (1974). Thanks to Phillips

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Generative art emerged in the 1960s, led by the likes of Vera Molnar and Herbert Franke, who used systems-based design thinking to develop random and iterative functions. Practitioners such as Snofro and Dmitri Chernyak have found new life in the form by deploying creative coding and algorithms to generate diversity with each run of smart contracts.

“What all these artists have in common,” said George Bach, a collector and art consultant, “was their relentless commitment to chance and control, a kind of cybernetic seriousness.” According to Bach, who hosted a generative art auction at Philips earlier this year, the form is one of the least understood and underappreciated genres of new media art. While the market may have been slow to adopt generative art, he said, institutions have not.

But more recently, the emergence of AI generators like OpenAI’s DAL-e has made generative art newly accessible and even acceptable. for Janek Simon, the Polish artist whose synthetic folklore In the project, they used AI to reinvent different ethnic traditions, with the new AI models being a game-changer.

,There are at least two eras in generative art: before and after AI,” Simon told Artnet News, pointing to AI programs like DAL-E, Midjourney and Async Art, which he has experimented with. What makes AI art really interesting, he said, “isn’t just projects that use glitches and shoddy features. If you really want to get into AI and generative art, you need to learn how to code.

Refik Anadol Machine Hallucinations: Dreaming of Nature In Galerie König, Berlin. Photo: Roman Merz.

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Due to advanced technology, even generative artists like Simon are hesitant to see AI as a threat to human creativity or artistry. “It would be very difficult for an AI to come up with an idea like putting a urinal on a pedestal,” he said, referring to Marcel Duchamp’s 1917 readymade. Spring,

Chernyak, whose latest generative art collection was created in collaboration with Laszlo Moholy-Nagy’s estate, echoed that sentiment. “I think we live in an increasingly technological world, with increasingly powerful technological devices, and humanity will always exhibit some form of creativity,” he told Artnet News. “It makes perfect sense to me that as these tools become more accessible and the general public becomes more technology-inclined, they will use automation and code for creative pursuits.”

With or without market interest, it seems that the field of generative art is evolving rapidly, aided by a plethora of new tools and software. In addition to Anadol’s showcase at MoMA, Pace Verso, the Web3 arm of Pace Gallery, recruits a number of top generative artists through its partnership with Art Blocks. Most recently, in October, the pair released Loi Hollowell’s first NFT project, a set of 280 generative sculptural abstractions.

These developments, along with an institutional boost, could potentially clear a long-term path for digital arts and NFTs. “The machine offers the opportunity to discover new forms of expression, which the artist adapts according to his own vision,” says digital art curator Aleksandra Artamonovskaja. “For some, the machine is like a paintbrush, while for others, the token is the medium – the canvas for creation.”

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