Ben Snell wrote an a.i. algorithm to create a humanoid sculpture. Then he ground up the whole computer that created the sculpture design and used the ground up dust to mold the sculpture, thus re-birthing the computer into fine art it itself designed.
Artists training a.i. systems to create fine art are no longer a novel idea. Although the discussion persists concerning the matter of whether or not machine-made works are really “art,” a.i. is well on its way to becoming a permanent fixture in the world of fine art. Both Christie’s and Sotheby’s have sold machine-based works. The most recent artist to join them is Ben Snell, whose sculpture was sold for $6,875 at the Phillips auction house.
The statue was created by a computer Snell called “Dio” in homage to the Greek god of wine Dionysus. It processed more than a thousand 3D models of statues, which include canonical works like Michelangelo’s David and the Winged Victory of Samothrace.
The computer then distilled all those works into their fundamental forms, and at last designed a model of its very own working with “the basic morphology of classical sculpture,” as Snell explained. The resulting shape, an abstract, humanoid figure, became the foundation for the sculpture Dio.
As soon as the a.i. system that designed the sculpture was finished, Snell took apart every single component of the computer that contributed to the sculpture and ground each piece to dust using a sander. “I used the raw material of computation to make this sculpture: both its computational processing power and its literal material affordance,” Snell elaborated. He used a specially sealed box, as the ground up dust could contain health hazards. Snell then 3D-printed a mold of Dio and cast the sculpture into this mold making use of black resin as well as the ground remains of the computer.
Given the intellectual, computational, and actual physical labor that went into the creation of Dio, it seems obvious that this is a piece of legitimate art, regardless of what critics may possibly declare regarding the use of artificial intelligence. As more and more artists and designers reveal the way they use a.i., the more comfortable the conventional art world will probably become with this type of artwork, and maybe eventually even becoming its own category of art.