The Whitney Museum of American Art is taking a further step into the world of merging artificial intelligence with art, or rather the future of curating. The museum recently launched The Next Biennial Should Be Curated by a Machine on their artport – their portal to Internet art and online gallery space for commissions of net art. The purpose of the project is to reimagine the future of curating in the light of artificial intelligence as a self-learning human-machine system.
The project, which was founded by artist duo UBERMORGAN, digital humanist Leonardo Impett, and curator Joasia Krysa, uses a group of machine learning processes, B3(NSCAM), to “curate” a series of imagined, constantly evolving biennial universes. The software takes data sets from sources such as the Liverpool and Whitney biennials and Rolling Stone Magazine to calculate a future probability for words to appear, generating endless combinations of possible biennials in flux. These imagined occurrences manifest in texts that take the form of artist biographies, curatorial statements, press releases, and art magazine reviews and engage in a continuous process of rewriting themselves, where they ultimately show up in browser windows that appear on top of a variety of visual backgrounds. Constructed by artificial intelligence, what appears on your screen alludes to 64 parallel universes of possible biennials.
“The alternate, parallel universes constructed by the [artificial intelligence] reflect the curatorial and institutional desires embedded in the data on which the software has been trained,” Christiane Paul, adjunct curator of digital art at the Whitney Museum, said. “The [artificial intelligence] engages in a kind of cultural Apophenia, the tendency to see meaningful connections between seemingly unrelated things, and reveals hidden patterns.”
In simpler terms, audiences enter the project and initially see a twisting black and white vortex, with 64 spinning wheels scattered over the screen. Clicking on a spinning wheel launches a new biennial created from various sources from NASA imagery to popular culture. Each different universe plays the soundtrack of a TikTok playlist. Using popular TikTok playlists is meant to “reference the mix of creative expression and preconfigured elements in digital tools.” Giving more weight to one data set over another or generating variations of biographies for artists with the same first or last name creates the respective universes.
In the end, the various textual and graphic biennial universes narrate and visualize artificial intelligence’s goal – to curate based on what it has learned from sources compiled by people and human understandings of art. The Next Biennial Should Be Curated by a Machine is a complex project that ties art, popular culture, music, science, and TikTok in another innovative step into the world of artificial intelligence.