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This award-winning nude portrait was actually made by an AI

Robots really are out to take our jobs – the work of artists included.

In London recently, German artist Mario Klingemann won the Lumen Prize for art for a nude portrait made not by him, but by an artificial intelligence.

The piece, entitled The Butcher’s Son, depicts a disfigured person, stripped of clothing and seemingly in a state of agony. Klingemann described it as a “neural network’s interpretation of the human form.”

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I am very happy that "The Butcher's Son" has been nominated for the longlist of the @lumen_prize 2018 in the "Artificial Intelligence" category

A post shared by Mario Klingemann (@quasimondo) on

But how exactly does an AI make its own artistic interpretation? Think of the process as something like drawing a live model:

A stick figure is generated from over 150,000 human poses and fed into a chain of GANs (Generative Adversarial Network). This chain involves two neural networks working together, with one forming the body of the stick figure, while the other judges the work’s accuracy based on the given data.

To complete the process, Klingemann used another GAN to refine the low-res images with new details and textures. He then sifted through thousands of renders and picked about 20 works that felt right to him.

In a statement, Lumen Prize founder Carla Rapoport addressed the concerns surrounding a piece made by artificial intelligence, “There’s a lot of fear and worry today about how AI will affect our lives.

“At the same time, these same tools can create real joy when artists engage with them. This is what art is all about. Each year, Lumen Prize winners break barriers in the art world, and 2018 provides another excellent example.”

You can see more of Mario Klingemann’s work with neural networks here.

Via Fast Company

About the author

Inigo is a writer and graphic designer from Manila, Philippines. He is a soldier of love who will carry you on his strong back of awesomeness when the zombie apocalypse arrives.

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