Using AI to make art is surprisingly interesting.
In 1975, French race car driver Herve Poulain invited friend and artist Alexander Calder to paint the first BMW Art Car. It was a 3.0 CSL that Poulain would race in that year's 24 Hour of Le Mans. The team didn't finish, but it was the first in a long line that included famous artists such as Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Frank Stella and others. But for this year's Frieze New York art fair, the company is doing something different.
Today BMW debuted "The Ultimate AI Masterpiece," an 8-Series Gran Coupe that was "painted" by artificial intelligence as a visual art installation at the show, which also coincides with the 50th anniversary of BMW Group Cultural Engagement.
The installation was fashioned with help from creative technologist Nathan Shipley of Goodby, Silverstein and Partners and Gary Yeh, art connoisseur and founder of artDrunk. The pair used the NVIDIA StyleGan artificial intelligence model to "cross reference over 50,000 images of artwork spanning 900 years of history."
It then curated a set of 50 works from historically famous and contemporary artists that BMW has worked with. The AI then generated new works of art, merging what it learned from the styles it "studied." The new works were then projection mapped onto a virtual 8-Series Gran Coupe.
"For 50 years, BMW has supported the arts and culture through numerous initiatives as a way engage and interact with consumers around the world in an authentic way," said Uwe Dreher, vice president of marketing, BMW of North America. "As we continue these efforts into 2021 and look for new and creative ways to engage audiences, we shift to a virtual setting where we are combining centuries-old art and the latest AI technology to create something completely new and exciting."
Shipley and Yeh joined each other virtually to document the creative process, which you can see in the documentary video above.
"AI is an emerging medium of creative expression. It's a fascinating space where art meets algorithm," said Shipley. "Combining the historical works with the curated modern works and projecting the evolving images onto the 8 Series Gran Coupe serves a direct nod to BMW's history of uniting automobiles, art, and technology."
As we can see from the images, the AI tries out a bunch of different styles, brush strokes and colors, some more abstract than others. One of our particular favorites is the white 8-Series that looks like it was shaded in pencil.
You can see them now at Frieze New York taking place at The Shed in Manhattan from May 5-9. In addition to the cars, it will feature 60 major galleries with a strong representation from the city of New York.