[Grace:AI] – Portraits

Dye Sublimation on Aluminum
Dimensions Variable

Does an AI trained only on the works of women artists somehow create “female” or even “feminist” portraits? Is gender somehow signified, marked, traced in this work, or is ‘art’ just art? These series of portraits reveal the surreal and the monstrous parsings by an Artificial intelligence.

The images produced by [Grace:AI] are unique portraits, based on what [Grace:AI] has seen. They are products of her processes, in effect, her imagination, not collages or copies.

[Grace:AI], employs a Deep Convolutional General Adversarial Network and is trained to “see” from a dataset I continue to create that contains tens of thousands of paintings and drawings by women artists, in effect, a history of global women’s art in thousands of images. The artists I have chosen as her ‘teachers’ are outspoken, strong individuals who worked or work in the male-dominated art world.

I’ve been given access to the collections at the National Museum of Women in the Arts and the University of Indiana, and am working with the Met at this time to create the AI training set. To create such a massive digital dataset of women’s artwork is not trivial. Most art history databases do not include gender or sex as a searchable aspect of the work. Thus, gathering the images has required scraping web resources artist by artist, typing in their name and culling images of women’s artwork (as opposed to photographs of women artists, or images made by male artists of them).

[Grace:AI] – Portrait is the third phase of the [Grace:AI] project, where the AI crafts portraits. [Grace:AI] – Daydream is the second phase of the AI’s image making themes. [Grace:AI] – Origin Story (Frankenstein) was the first phase of the work. The AI produced images from her “origin story” of sorts by examining thousands of images of Mary Shelley’s monster, classic ‘Frankensteins’ gathered from online databases and image banks, rendering a series of original images of her “father figure” as archival dye sublimation prints on aluminum. [Grace:AI] – Origin Story (Frankenstein) had its American premiere in “A Question of Intelligence: AI and the Future of Humanity” at Parsons, NYC curated by Christiane Paul in 2020. [Grace:AI] has also provoked a book, called Electric Philosophy, that accompanies the exhibition. The book is written from the perspective of [Grace:AI] as she delves into philosophical topics such as being and knowledge.

In the future, she will paint anthropocenic landscapes and more. Collections of images were generously shared for the training data by the National Museum of Women in the Arts and Indiana University’s A Space of Their Own database as part of the Eskenazi Museum of Art. This project was initially supported by the Leslie Center for the Humanities at Dartmouth College.