Who knew neural networks could envision naked ladies like a surrealist artist? Robbie Barrat says he "really think that AI-created art is going to be one of the major upcoming art movements in the near future".
Barrat is self-taught in both AI and art and is a recent high school graduate from West Virginia that created and trained the neural network. "The idea of using AI as a tool to create art is different than nearly all generative art done on computers before." As artificial intelligence has had a crack at just about everything else, from existential memes to the more disturbing fake porn, a neural network has been trained to produce its own take on nude art.
Barrat started with feeding a Generative Adversarial Network (GAN) thousands of nude portraits from across different centuries and strains of art. "Basically what happens is you train the GAN to take in random vectors (lists of numbers), and output portraits," he explains. Two neural networks, a discriminator and the generator work in tandem. "The generator comes up with paintings that fool the discriminator, and the discriminator tries to learn how to tell the difference between real paintings from the dataset and fake paintings the generator feeds it."
AI, however, gets better at doing what they are programmed to do over time, which, in this case, is to produce more realistic portraits, sometimes they fall into what Barrat calls "local minima". It basically means they find a way to keep fooling each other without getting better at the task.
"In this case, the generator keeps generating fleshy blobs that fool the discriminator pretty well, so overall they stop getting better at painting," he said.
The results of the AI produced art are somewhat bizarre and abstract with moments of flesh and blobs, as the AI reinterprets classic nude art into something halfway between fascinating and creepy. Barrat compares the AI-nude art with the work of conceptual artist Sol LeWitt and his digital generative art. While LeWitt's artworks were "still rule-based, room for interpretation of the rules is still there, just like in my AI assisted artwork, but completely unlike what happens in more traditional rule-based generative art," adds Barrat.
He believes that AI-generated art is going to be integral for moving art forward and could mould into its own movement entirely. Barrat's project presents a totally new idea; where a machine creates original content, rather than just following the rules given to it.
"I want to get AI to generate new types of art we haven't seen before; not force some human perspective on it," says Barrat. "If the resulting images were realistic nude portraits; it wouldn't be nearly as exciting as the strange and alien bags of meat it paints."
Barrat wants to use AI to make its own new and original artworks, not just to let AI mimic the exact same way these artists from the 1600s painted.