World-leaders in machine learning are drawing on South Australia’s artistic inspiration to push the boundaries between AI and art.
Art and artificial intelligence are merging in a groundbreaking hackathon designed to create original work of art for the Australian Institute of Machine Learning this Friday in Adelaide, South Australia.
The event brings together artists and techies alongside the South Australian-based institute’s first artist-in-residence — the award-winning and avant-garde New York artist Laurie Anderson.
Anderson’s job is to inspire six mixed teams to create challenging new contemporary art works by merging their tech and art skills.
Australian Institute of Machine Learning director Professor Anton van den Hengel said the event was a first for the institute that now houses 130 people and is ranked number three in the world for computer vision research.
“This is powerful technology, machine learning allows cars to drive themselves and Facebook to decide what you want to read,” Prof van den Hengel said.
“Any new technology has a societal impact whether it’s the steam engine or the wheel or the internet, it all changes the way we live and artists are a really important part of the debate of how we live.”
Laurie Anderson — a performance artist, composer, musician, writer and film director whose work has spanned the media spectrum, most recently virtual reality — was the first artist-in-residence at NASA in 2003.
She took up her post on Monday as the inaugural artist-in-residence for South Australia’s new Art Intelligence program, a collaboration between the Australian Institute for Machine Learning and Sia Furler Institute at the University of Adelaide.
Art Intelligence is designed to be a world-first artistic research platform and independent art space bringing together artificial intelligence and machine learning engineers with leading artists.
Prof van den Hengel said already the institute had been working on projects through the platform, ranging from an automatically generated cowboy song generated by artificial intelligence to a new art snob app.
“We analysed all the cowboy songs we could get hold of and the program is now out there writing and singing its own cowboy songs,” Prof van den Hengel said.
“We have a robot down in the basement making drawings, we give it a picture and it figures out how to turn it into art.
“And we have an app called The Art Snob that you point at a piece of art and it makes up a reason as to why that art is important, it can be anything from the Mona Lisa to a banana taped to the wall.”
Laurie Anderson is also working with Prof van den Hengel while she is in Adelaide for the week to conceptualise an art piece to be shared via MURMUR — the institute’s new online and offline exhibition space designed to capture creations from the new artist-engineer collaborations.
Prof van den Hengel hoped the Art Intelligence Hackathon on Friday would produce the first of many new art works in an annual event.
“Hackathons are very well understood, there are a lot of hackathons out there all run by tech people for tech people with a relatively restrained goal but art doesn’t work that way,” he said.
“We want to give the people the freedom to take a risk.
“Hopefully, at the end of the day we will have six fantastic pieces of art that push the boundaries and say something about the intersection of art and AI.
“I think we have, as a technology community, a responsibility to engage with the rest of society.”
The Australian Institute for Machine Learning is a world-leader in the application of machine learning methodologies and the largest university-based research group in machine learning in Australia.
Based at the Lot Fourteen innovation neighbourhood in the CBD of Adelaide, the institute’s work covers Machine Learning Theory, Robotic Vision, Medical Machine Learning, Trusted Autonomous Systems, Surveillance and Tracking, Photogrammetry and 3D Modelling.