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Scott Eaton Artist+AI: Figures & Form in the Age of Intelligent Machines

The first thing that strikes me when meeting Scott Eaton the artist behind “Artist+AI figure and form” in the age of intelligent machines at Somerset House (19 June – 23 June) is his passion for his project, a project he has been working on for 2 and half years. He essentially programmed his neural network (AI), starting with a “baby’s brain that can learn anything but knows nothing yet” (Eaton’s words describing the network before you program it)to become his art assistant using over 100,000 photographs of over 300 people of different shapes and colour. Nudes in different angles, sitting and standing but always with the light coming from the same direction which later transpires being strikingly beautiful when the work comes out of the neural network.

The exhibition combines the latest in generative artificial intelligence (AI) with old practices of drawing and sculpture. In doing so, Eaton, a multifaceted artist with a background in anatomy, sculpture and engineering, underscores the impact AI is set to have on art-making and in particular how it will change our perception and understanding of the human form.

Eaton adds: ‘In the teaching process, AI learns its ‘craft’ by continually comparing different visual representations – in this instance line drawings and photographs. After millions and millions of views, it gradually begins to understand how to transform a drawing into something photographic, and eventually it learns to faithfully produce figures. At this point it becomes a capable collaborator in the creative process.

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The exhibition is composed of three parts, animation showing time-lapses of drawings and sculpture emerging from the AI and a series of drawings and prints of the collaborative compositions and last a selection of sculptures realised by the collaboration between artist + AI. The work shows influences ranging from Klimt, Schiele and Bacon to Rodin, Boccioni and Rubens.

Scott Eaton (b. 1973, Washington) is an American artist, designer, and photographer. Eaton received his masters degree from the MIT Media Lab and subsequently studied academic drawing and sculpture in Florence, Italy. Eaton is one of the pioneering artists in the field of digital sculpture and his work combines a deep understanding of human anatomy and traditional sculpture techniques with the power of modern digital tools. Eaton worked for many years as an animator – his clients include Pixar, Disney, Sony, Microsoft, Warner Bros. In recent years he has focused on creative technology, anatomy, and art, collaborating on project with artists and institutions including Jeff Koons.

I find the exhibition truly mesmerising I could get lost in the videos for hours, at the same time I find that Eaton is doing something essential in this odd times of big changes that we are living in, he shows us that AI can be used not only by big companies or governments that it’s here to stay and we can use it to enhance our occupations, the perception of the world and the arts too. Try to not miss this exhibition if you are in London the next few days, it’s a free but ticketed event you can get tickets on www.scotteaton.com.

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