Is the experience of art subverted in a world classified by AI?


This is a virtual tour about the categorisation of artworks on Google Arts & Culture (the curator table). The platform uses Artificial Intelligence, trained on their database, to classify the images by analysing the pixels and find ‘new connections’.  The tour is a way to let Google arts & culture visitors question the impact of the classification system on the experience of the artworks and the narrative about ‘art’ that Google Arts & Culture confronts them with when letting the artworks be AI-classified by showing the biased category system.


During research discoveries were made; using the search bar of the Curator Table and typing in, for example, the word “happiness” a big number of images appeared. Among them a poster featuring a quote of Hitler, without any historical context or explanation. Noticing this the team tried the same with different words that would be at random or chosen thoughtfully. The AI can recognise concrete features in images such as an apple or a boat. But when it comes to more abstract terms, the images popping up seem pretty random. So how does an AI relate images to words such as happiness and freedom, that are so closely linked to the experience of being human?

Created in collaboration with Quinty Uiterwaal & Julia Wilhelm.

Rosa Zwiers & Quinty Uiterwaal & Julia Wilhelm: concept, sound design.
Rosa Zwiers: graphic design, video, video editing.

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