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  • Writer's pictureDimitri Ozerkov

Opening of the exhibition “Artificial Intelligence and the Dialogue of Cultures”

On 6 June 2019 the exhibition “Artificial Intelligence and the Dialogue of Cultures” opened in the General Staff building. It is devoted to the artistic possibilities of artificial intelligence and presents works by fourteen artists and creative teams from ten different countries.

The display will become part of the cultural programme of this year’s Petersburg Economic Forum.

“The exhibition is a splendid symbol of the collaboration between the Hermitage and the Russian Direct Investment Fund, and of collaboration between artificial and human intelligence. You will see an example of how the latest technologies can be humanized and therein, it seems to me, lies the main task of culture,” Mikhail Piotrovsky, General Director of the State Hermitage, said at the opening ceremony. He particularly noted “the wonderful picture of the birth of architectural images [Refik Anadol’s Recollections of Hidden Spaces II]. It is the same as Claude Monet di with Rouen Cathedral, only here there are more technical possibilities” and also the installation by Konstantin Novoselov “where a great scientist, a Nobel Prize-winner, shows the difference between how artificial and human intelligence works. They are different, but they can work together.”

“This is a unique partnership. The Hermitage is not only one of the largest, but also one of the most innovative museums in the world. This is one of the first exhibitions of artificial intelligence in Russia, which has become an example both of the interaction of artificial intelligence and the human being and of the interaction of all our countries represented here. Art connects and connections between countries are extremely important,” Kirill Dmitriev, CEO of the Russian Direct Investment Fund, emphasized.

Vladimir Medinsky, the Minister of Culture of the Russian Federation, particularly noted the international character of the exhibition: “The works of 14 creators, or rather 14 countries, are represented here. How should we call the creators of these works? Are they artists or teams, representatives, algorithms? The exhibition of artificial intelligence, one of the first in Europe on such a scale, is taking place within the walls of one of the world’s largest museums and it poses not so much educational tasks as philosophical questions. Here we can talk about intellectual property rights, about the art of the future and about what that future will be like in general.”

The Saudi Arabian Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih in turn noted that “of the 16 artificial intelligence objects presented here in the exhibition, two have been made by representatives of Saudi Arabia. These are female artists and the very fact of their participation here speaks, among other things, of the colossal changes that are taking place in our country.”

The exhibition “Artificial Intelligence and the Dialogue of Cultures” proposes a new view of the relationship between artist and viewer. AI is developing rapidly and its new characteristics today make it possible to accomplish broader tasks, including ones that are traditionally considered creative and customarily assumed to be the exclusive province of human beings.

Contemporary art based on artificial intelligence technologies gained recognition after the sale of the Portrait of Edmond Belamy, a picture created by the French art group Obvious, at a Christie’s auction on 25 October 2018 for $432,500. That event set people talking about the start of the union of two worlds: art born of human intelligence and intelligence created by artificial means.

The exhibition has been organized by the State Hermitage and the Russian Direct Investment Fund as part of the Hermitage 20/21 project.

The exhibition curators are Dmitry Ozerkov, head of the State Hermitage’s Department of Contemporary Art, and Victoria Kondrashova, Director of the Aksenov Family Foundation.

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