Artificial intelligence takes centre stage in Esch2022 In the field of art and culture, the use of artificial intelligence is not new.

Artificial intelligence is becoming increasingly common in our daily lives. And each day, it plays a more significant role. Over the past few years, artificial intelligence has become a central theme in our everyday activities. Whether in the morning, when we access our mobile phone using facial recognition, or search for directions or music recommendations, we are constantly confronted with artificial intelligence. Researchers from the University of Luxembourg have dedicated a pavilion to artificial intelligence as part of Esch2022. Located on the Belval campus, it offers several projects linked to artistic creation. 

Self-driving cars, robot lawnmowers and vacuum cleaners. Each day, artificial intelligence is improving our lives and helping us to make more efficient use of our time. A wide range of applications and technological tools that we use on a daily basis rely upon artificial intelligence. Search engines, personal assistants and automatic translation tools such as Google Translate and DeepL facilitate our personal and professional lives. For its Gmail messaging service, Google offers short messages so that you can now reply to an e-mail in one click.

Artificial intelligence has gradually crept into every facet of our lives: supermarkets, museums, offices, hospitals and public transport. It has already largely become embedded in our daily routine; it is omniscient and is slowly taking root in the social fabric. In the 1950s, it was merely a futuristic dream, now it has become reality. 

Artificial intelligence enters the world of culture

We often talk about artificial intelligence and its impact on everyday life, but less attention is given to its influence on art and artistic creativity. However, it has already infiltrated many contemporary artistic fields such as music, painting and literature.

The use of algorithms is not new in the domains of art and culture. Numerous projects have embraced this concept such as the ILLIAC (Illinois Automatic Computer), which composed experimental music suites in 1957. In the early 1970s, the AARON software created drawings which were exhibited in art galleries, and in the field of literature, Calliope drafted texts as early as 1952.

At present, the influence of artificial intelligence in the cultural sector is on the rise. Google offers several applications, notably Magenta Studio that generates melodies and rhythms using algorithms. Artificial intelligence is widely used by streaming platforms such as Spotify and Deezer to recommend songs and create playlists.

The Next Rembrandt – artificial intelligence can paint too!

Using artificial intelligence, art historians and computer scientists have reproduced a portrait of the famous Dutch painter Rembrandt. To produce the 'Next Rembrandt', they had to copy 300 paintings which were registered on a database.

Then, the algorithm learned the colours, contrasts and composition of the canvases before assimilating the artist's brushstrokes and how he created layers with the paint.

Using deep learning, the algorithm learned how the painter crafted facial details such as the eyes, nose, mouth and facial expressions.

Once the work of art was finished, a 3D printer revealed the original work of a 'digital' painter. 

Esch2022 dedicates a pavilion to artificial intelligence

Artificial intelligence is also on show at the Esch2022 European capital of culture. A pavilion at the University of Belval has even been dedicated to this technology in order to harness public interest in artificial intelligence. 'But it also offers a remarkable opportunity to revisit our relationship with art and the world,' states the Dean of the Faculty of Science, Technology and Medicine, Professor Jean-Marc Schlenker.

Officially launched on 25th September 2020, the 'AI & ART Pavilion' on the Belval campus brings together researchers, artists and the general public. The project comprises three parts. The Singularité 42! space brings together initiatives and aims to connect researchers and artists. The Project Corner(stone) is a space for experimentation and discovery and the Project Magneto will showcase special conferences and events.

During the European Capital of Culture year, various experts in the field of artificial intelligence and artists will meet here to share their know-how. From all the projects presented at the pavilion, we have selected two in order to give you a taste of things to come! The ThalamusProject and the Dancing Avatar. 

ThalamusProject

The objective of this project is to create the video of a song artificially from the 'mind's eye" of artificial intelligence, based on deep learning. To this end, thousands of collected images are used to feed a deep structure (StyleGAN2) in order to create a conceptual representation of the song lyrics. During the learning process, complex neural structures are formed. The artificially created video guides the viewer through the multi-dimensional space of neural structures in the form of a journey across an ever-changing landscape of newly created works of art.

Dancing Avatar

Generating a dance sequence with artificial intelligence techniques can lead to impressive results. The Music to Movement GAN (MM GAN) network generates dance moves. The aim of this project is to produce a classical dance sequence based on the Dying Swan musical piece, using the Dancing2Music dance generator.

The Dancing2Music model is fed with 68,000 video clips of ballet music, 220,000 Zumba clips and 73,000 hip-hop videos, i.e. a total of 71 hours of training data. 

Interview with Jean-Marc Schlenker, Dean of the Faculty of Science, Technology and Medicine. 

1. Please can you tell us about your pavilion?

The 'AI & Art Pavilion' is a project created by the University's Department of Computer Science and coordinated by Professor Leon Van der Torre, in cooperation with several of his colleagues, in particular Professor Christoph Schommer, as well as artists and young researchers. It explores a broad range of issues covering the relationship between art and artificial intelligence. It allows visitors to better understand recent developments in artificial intelligence but also to question our relationship with art in a fun and entertaining way. The pavilion has been created as a meeting place for the public, artists - notably those actively involved in the project - and computer scientists working in the field of artificial intelligence as well as scientists from other disciplines. Readers can find a more detailed description of the project at the following address: https://esch2022.uni.lu/projects/aiart/

2. You have created a pavilion dedicated to art and artificial intelligence. What is the objective of this pavilion?

Visitors to this pavilion will discover some of the most remarkable and latest advances in artificial intelligence. For example, they will be able to see some particularly impressive deep learning techniques in action. Through experiments and fun activities, visitors will be able to question the true nature of art and our interpretation of images.

Also, they will be able to listen to the insights of artists who have cast a light on the interactions between our digital existence and our physical presence. Their visit to the pavilion should provide them with new knowledge as well as raise further questions. One of the strengths and original concepts of the pavilion is the possibility to interact directly with artists and researchers, which is actively encouraged. The pavilion aims to be a meeting place where people can share experiences, rather than just a static exhibition.

3. How many projects do you offer and which one is particularly important to you? And why?

The project has three main pillars; each pillar brings together several activities. It is quite difficult to choose one of these activities over another! Each visitor will be able to choose the one that resonates most with their own personal questions and preferences. The pavilion is open every day, but visitors can also select specific time slots and can share their thoughts with artists and artificial intelligence researchers. Specific information can be found on the Computational Creativity Hub website: http://cch.uni.lu

 

'The pavilion aims to be a meeting place where people can share experiences, rather than just a static exhibition.'

Jean-Marc Schlenker, Dean of the Faculty of Science, Technology and Medicine.

4. What impact does artificial intelligence have on art and culture?

Over the past few years, the development of artificial intelligence has led us to question our interpretation of art. For example, some programs using the latest artificial intelligence techniques are capable of producing highly convincing works of art in the style of a particular painter or composer. The line between art and technology has become blurred. Can we speak, or will we be able to speak in the future, of an 'artist' computer program? In certain fields of art, as in other domains, programs using artificial intelligence can mimic the performance of the best human experts. It is troubling.

5. By casting an eye over all these projects, one could imagine that one day art will be replaced by artificial intelligence.

This is a question that is at the heart of the pavilion's activities. Can art that has been generated by computer software really be considered art? If not, what does a piece of art created by a human have that computer-generated art cannot achieve, and why is this the case? Through art, it is our human experience that is questioned by technological progress.

6. How can artificial intelligence foster an artist's own imagination? How can it play a role in the creative process?

Artificial intelligence provides artists with a broad range of new tools that are just waiting to be explored. Visitors to the pavilion will get to see artificial intelligence devices in operation which, once fed and guided by artists' ideas, help to produce remarkable works of art. As is the case in other fields, computer tools make it possible to extend and also free the human imagination.

7. The impact of artificial intelligence on art: dehumanisation of art or humanisation of computers?

This is a profound question and one to which each visitor will be able to come to his/her own answer. It goes without saying that in the preparation of the pavilion, the artists played a key role. Artificial intelligence has given artists a new means of expression; it has not replaced them.