Dreaming in Digital

In the 1980s, engineer Harold Cohen (1928-2016) devised a computer program that could create abstract drawings. Named AARON, it is both an early example of digital art – the collaboration between artist and technology ­­– and Artificial Intelligence (AI). As the years progressed, newer versions of AARON drew figures, plants and animals autonomously – even adding colour by 1995. Further significant breakthroughs have been made in the decades since; in August 2022, Jason Allen won the Colorado State Fair Fine Arts Exhibition with Théâtre D’opéra Spatial, a piece generated using the AI tool Midjourney.

Refik Anadol (b. 1985) is at the forefront of new media and machine intelligence. The Los Angeles-based artist uses algorithms to extract and compiles information from images and text available online – public metadata – to generate immersive and interactive experiences. Quantum Memories (2020), for example, presented an alternative view of nature generated from 200 million photos of Earth, its atmosphere and landscapes.

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