Sotheby’s is the latest player to foray into the market for artworks created using artificial intelligence after selling a work by Mario Klingemann in London last week. The work, entitled Memories of Passersby I, is an innovative installation that uses neural networks to create an infinite stream of imaginary portraits projected onto two large screens. The work sold for £40,000 with fees.
The most recent market test for an AI generated artwork took place last October at Christie’s when they sold a work by the French collective Obvious for $432,500, more than 40 times its estimate. The portrait, entitled Edmond de Belamy, from La Famille de Belamy, depicted a non-existent nobleman generated via algorithms that scanned over 15,000 portrait paintings spanning many centuries.
The work sold by Christie’s was promoted and widely hailed as the first AI artwork to be sold at auction, resulting in a media frenzy as well as a heated debate on the attribution over the code used to generate the artwork. To compare, pre-sale estimates for Klingemann’s work at Sotheby’s were more subdued, despite the work carrying a far more complex technological makeup
Klingemann produced the work in an edition of three with two artist’s proofs, using multiple Generative Adversarial Networks (GANs) to create the portraits in real time, with the images changing before the viewer.
The movement of AI produced art arose in the past few years, partly due to coding advancements. The movement started in 2015 with a program called DeepDream, which was created unintentionally by an engineer at Google. He was attempting to find a way to visualise the works of a neural network system designed to analyse batches of images. To accomplish this, he gave the system an input and asked it to increase the number of objects it can detect. The outcome was a wide collection of never seen before images.