A painting named Edmond de Belamy, which was created using artificial intelligence (AI), has reportedly sold for nearly half a million dollars at London-based auction house, Christie’s, thus making it the first work of art created by AI to have ever been sold.
The artwork was produced by Pierre Fautrel, Hugo Caselles-Dupré and Gauthier Vernier, three Frenchmen who started the artificial intelligence company, Obvious.
They created a machine learning system, feeding the system with algorithms of 15,000 pre-20th century artworks.
The machine, using the algorithm it received, recreated the artworks thereby producing its own portraits – including the Edmond de Belamy.
Initially predicted to sell between $7,000 and $10,000, the painting smashed expectation, selling for $430,000 at an auction sale last week. The artwork was bought by an unnamed buyer.
“All the data has similarities, so common features,” says Gauthier Vernier, one of the founders of the AI company.
“So, first algorithm creates new examples of those images and tries to fool the second algorithm into thinking that those pictures created are, actually, real portraits, so human-made.
“We’re looking at these portraits the same way a painter would do it. Like walking in a gallery, taking some inspiration. Except that we feed this inspiration to the algorithm, and the algorithm is the part that does the visual creation.”
But this new innovation has faced questions on whether it is a work of art, considering that art is a human endeavour and “is a medium through which human consciousness expresses itself”.
Despite being groundbreaking work in terms of machine learning, can we accept ‘Edmond de Belamy’ as art?