Salvador Dalí once remarked ‘If someday I may die, although it is unlikely, I hope that people in cafes will say “Dalí has died, but not entirely.”’ This year, the surrealist artist may have gotten his wish 30 years after his death as the Dalí Museum in St. Petersburg, Florida will bring Dalí back from the dead to guide you through his namesake museum. An AI version of the artist will be unveiled at the museum in April as part of an interactive experience called ‘Dalí Lives.’ ‘In a sense,’ says Dalí museum executive director Dr. Hank Hine, ‘we have made his words prophetic. We’ve brought him back to life!’
When ‘Dalí Lives’ begins, museum visitors will be able to walk up to one of the many human-sized screens located in the museum, press a button, and engage with the stunningly realistic AI version of the surrealist master. The programme will add the Dalí Museum to the ranks of museums and institutions utilizing AI and AR to enhance the experience of their guests and bring their collections to life.
For over six months, the museum worked with creative ad agency Goodby Silverstein & Partners (GS&P) in San Francisco to bring Dalí to life. Painstakingly organizing and analyzing footage, photographs, interviews, and various other archival means to better understand the artist, his movements, his speech, and his demeanor the AI Dalí began to take shape. GS&P then taught the AI algorithm to use these Dalí features and idiosyncrasies to mimic the artist in an uncanny way. In addition to using quotes from the late artist himself, the AI version of Dalí will also comment on current events and local sports teams bringing him into the 21st century.
In 2014 the Dalí Museum first partnered up with GS&P during an exhibition called ‘Gala Contemplating You.’ During that show, the creative agency made kiosks that took the selfies of museum-goers and made them into replicas of a 1976 painting of Dalí’s wife. A 2016 exhibition called ‘Dreams of Dalí’ found the two organizations in collaboration once again creating a VR experience that put visitors inside Dalí’s 1934 painting Archaeological Reminiscence of Millet’s ‘Angelus’. After these installations, the museum found that 97% of their guests wanted more of these types of exhibitions so when ‘Dalí Lives’ began to take shape, another partnership with GS&P was a no-brainer.
‘We’re trying to make the work more easily digestible,” Hines told artnet News in a statement. ‘People who go to art school are taught to have a silent inquiry of a painting, to visually probe it and ask it questions about why it is the way it is. But that’s an acquired skill, and without an entry to the works it’s much more difficult. Drawing from Dalí’s own interest in media and the potential of new technologies, we have a commitment to find ways for our visitors to find delight and special kind of entry into Dalí’s spirit.’