He’ll be the first to admit it, “I am not a technician, I am not a programming guy, I am someone using artificial intelligence, and specifically in the field of art.” But make no mistake, though not a developer by trade, Florent Aziosmanoff, founder of the Living Art Lab in Paris, and author of Living Art, Foundations (CNRS Editions, Paris 2015) does not shy away from the challenges of AI.
In 1995, Florent was present at MIT’s Media Lab to witness the inception of the TTT program, or, Things That Think. It took a bit of convincing, but he would soon come to recognize the great potential for artificial intelligence, and how it would eventually lend itself to the work of the artist. “The main question for me was, really,” he says, “do we have a new art form [with artificial intelligence]?”
As technology evolved throughout the early 2000’s, and more specifically, as artificial intelligence continued its advancements, Florent understood that the potential for AI and artistry was worth exploring further, “it was not a question of things that think,” he says, “but mostly … things that are looking like if they are thinking … I understood that could be linked to the question of the art expression.”
He would soon return to Paris, and go on to found the art center Le cube, and the Atellier de creation, a production space where artists are trained on the usage of artificial intelligence. In 2014, Florent opened the Living Art Lab, a non-profit organization which focuses on the the implementation of artificial intelligence and art.
As he explains it (on implementing artificial intelligence into a preexisting work of art or media system), “if i put artificial intelligence inside, that changes the system; it means I put behavior into the media system.”
Through this process, the artwork takes on the appearance of intelligence, and also the illusion of thinking for itself. This then allows the media system to “sense its surroundings,” and therefore gives spectators the ability to interact in unison with the artwork.
Once such work is The Living Mona Lisa, created by Florent and his team, which gives life to Leonardo Da Vinci’s illustrious sixteenth century portrait. The media system (or work of art) senses its surroundings, and interacts with museum guests through a series of intricate animations and eye movements.
Now, with artificial intelligence acting as a major factor in the system, the relationship between the spectator and the artwork has changed, is enhanced even, and the viewer and the viewed both actively participate in the creative process.
But rest assured, Florent says, the media system is not thinking on its own, “artificial intelligence – all the systems inside – have been designed by the author,” he explains, “so it means that you are, as usual, linked to an author, or to a creator.”
And this connection to the author/creator leads us back to Florent’s original question: do we have a new art form?
To be an art form, as he explains, an author must be present, and that author must have something in mind they wish to express. But, “sometimes you cannot explain, sometimes you need another way…it’s not possible because it’s too complicated, it’s too difficult, it’s not appropriate, people in front of you are not really in the mood to try to understand what you want to express.”
“What is very important,” Florent says, “is that when we are making artificial intelligence based systems, the key is not inside the system, but in which behavior that provoked in the audience because that’s where the art or the service expression is based.”
With artificial intelligence, the author may manipulate the creative process, and create an emotional response in the viewer’s mind…and isn’t this what artistry is about? A release of emotional stimuli?
Of course, this is more of an intellectual-based question than a technical one, but if the role of the artist is to stimulate an emotional reaction, to create feeling in the audience, then with the help of AI, this is not only accomplished, but it is accomplished in a way that has not been seen before, and with potential that is truly, undeniably limitless!
Note: If you’re out in Austin for SXSW in March, check out The Living Mona Lisa “Painting” 🙂