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Artificial Intelligence: A new exhibition looks at art curation by algorithm

REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui with Sir Peter Lely, Two Ladies of the Lake Family (c.1660)

Seeing how AI programmes use algorithms to interpret images, and replicate our human connection in the modern world: that’s the premise of Tate Britain’s new exhibition, Recognition. The exhibition uses artificial intelligence technologies (such as object and facial recognition) to pair photos from news agency Reuters with paintings from the Tate collection.

Visitors are able to view the virtual gallery created by the programme, and learn about why it chose each specific art/photo match, as well as share their favourite choices made by the machine. They can also help out the AI by making their own comparisons between Reuters’ real-time news images and the museum’s archives.

REUTERS/Edgar Su with L. S. Lowry, Industrial Landscape (1955)

REUTERS/Edgar Su with L. S. Lowry, Industrial Landscape (1955)

The aim of the project is to find out whether, over the course of three months, the AI programme can learn and improve on its pairings, using its own observations as well as the input of Tate visitors.

Eric Horvitz, director of Microsoft Research Lab at Redmond and IK Prize judge, said of the project: “Ongoing advances in AI technologies are enabling new partnerships between people and machines. The Recognition project was motivated by the promise of this kind of collaboration. We envision a world where humans and machines work together in new ways to do amazing things.”

The project has been created by four designers – Angelo Semeraro, Coralie Gourguechon, Monica Lanaro and Isaac Vallentin – from Italian research centre Fabrica. The team worked with Jolibrain, who specialise in “pretty AI”, to create the programme at the heart of the project.

REUTERS/Peter Nicholls with Sir Stanley Spencer, The Roundabout (1923)

REUTERS/Peter Nicholls with Sir Stanley Spencer, The Roundabout (1923)

REUTERS/Regis Duvignau with Henry Scott Tuke, August Blue (1893-4)

REUTERS/Regis Duvignau with Henry Scott Tuke, August Blue (1893-4)

Running until 27 November, Recognition is the winner of IK Prize 2016, a digital innovation award held in partnership with Microsoft. Last year, the award went to Tate Sensorium, a show that paired paintings from the Tate collection with scent, taste, sound and texture.

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