A range of symbiotic interactions between humans and machines are on display in AI Am I? ARTificial Intelligence as Generated by Alexander Reben, on view at the Crocker through April 28, 2024. By presenting works created before and after the advent of current-generation large models, this unique exhibition explores both the recent history and emergent futures of AI in art.
Across his work with robots, software, and algorithms, artist Alexander Reben examines what he calls “human-machine symbiosis”, which isn’t simply a semantic flourish. It reflects Reben’s sense of our emerging and evolving relationships with machines as he sidesteps the extremes that dominate conversations about AI, instead imagining futures in which symbiosis between humans and machines prompts novel forms of creativity in both.
Because of the presumed “magic” of AI models, it is easy to wonder if Reben has abdicated artistic responsibility, but this could be a misunderstanding of his process and concept. As with any artistic material, these tools demand considerable time, effort, and research to develop as an expressive medium. Each multi-step body of work on view in the exhibition contends with the scale and volume that generative AI is capable of producing, potentially deepening Reben’s responsibilities as artistic collaborator, curator, and editor.
Photography, printmaking, and even paint pigments were all new technologies at one point, and humanity has confronted the effects of automation before. However, artificial intelligence provokes a novel question: How do humans relate to tools that can learn and improve themselves? Through this exhibition at the Crocker Art Museum, Reben aims to extend the inquiry by asking: Are machines entities with whom we should cooperate? And if so, to what degree?
For more information, visit crockerart.org.