"Explorers of Unknown Planets": Practices and Politics of Artificial Intelligence in Visual Arts

People involved

Lead researcher: Baptiste Caramiaux
Collaborator: Sarah Fdili Alaoui (Université Paris-Saclay)


Alongside recent advances in artificial intelligence (AI), a new art practice has emerged in recent years that borrows and transforms these advances in the production of artworks. The actors of this emergent practice are coming from contemporary art, media and digital arts. These artists have developed an original practice of AI within their creative field. In this article, we propose a qualitative study to explore the nature of this practice. We interviewed five internationally renowned artists about how AI is integrated into their work. Through a thematic analysis of the interviews, we first find that their practice relies on crafting algorithms and data as materials. We uncover how they explicitly use this material unpredictability rather than avoid it. Secondly, we highlight the politics of their practice that consist of resisting the culture of AI research, as well as its inherent power dynamics. We also highlight how their relationship with the technology is imbued with ethics and how they rethink their role with respect to the technology. In this paper, we aim to provide the CSCW community with a way to expand the framework in which AI can be understood not only as a tool but also as cultural and political design material.

Project description

The project began in 2019 as AI Art began to develop within the world of contemporary art and digital art. In order to better answer the questions raised by the use of these technologies in the creative and artistic fields, we have started discussions with recognized artists in the field. Importantly, this research project is also a critical response to the often simplistic communication around AI in art in the media.

(Feature image generated using stable diffusion web using the prompt ‘Representation of AI Art’ as Pixel Art)