IJCAI 2015

IJCAI-15It is a great honour to be an invited speaker at this year’s IJCAI (24th International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence) in the AI & The Arts track. This year the conference is located at Buenos Aires, Argentina – the first time in South America.

The title of my keynote talk will be “Art is a System”, which will look at specific approaches for AI research in the arts in order to better understand human creative processes and practice.


Most approaches to AI and the Arts are conceptualised as problems involving the production or classification of produced artefacts. This is unsurprising as we naturally think of human artists creating artefacts as the main activity that exemplifies this societal role. One implicit assumption of this conceptualisation is that art making is simply a problem of production, i.e. it is fixated on the problem of generating appropriate output.

In this talk I will offer a different view of Art and AI. Rather than focusing on the production of objects, we consider art as a system of exchanges, relationships and interactions and investigate what this means for AI approaches; past, present and future. A systems view enables us to reimagine the role of AI in artistic practice, and more broadly in non-anthropocentric creativity. Current approaches focus on the automation of human creativity, which I would argue is both a technical and ethical cul-de-sac. A systems view – which can incorporate machines as artists, critics, provocateurs, assistants or catalysts in an artistic ecosystem – allows us to imagine new roles for AI and the Arts and new kinds of art.

In addition, I’ll also be presenting a new paper (co-authored with Mark d’Inverno):
Heroic vs Collaborative AI for the Arts [pdf version of the paper]


This paper considers the kinds of AI systems we want involved in art and art practice. We explore this relationship from three perspectives: as artists interested in expanding and developing our own creative practice; as AI researchers interested in building new AI systems that contribute to the understanding and development of art and art practice; and as audience members interested in experiencing art. We examine the nature of both art practice and experiencing art to ask how AI can contribute. To do so, we review the history of work in intelligent agents which broadly speaking sits in two camps: autonomous agents (systems that can exhibit intelligent behaviour independently) in one, and multi-agent systems (systems which interact with other systems in communities of agents) in the other.

In this context we consider the nature of the relationship between AI and Art and introduce two opposing concepts: that of “Heroic AI”, to describe the situation where the software takes on the role of the lone creative hero and “Collaborative AI” where the system supports, challenges and provokes the creative activity of humans. We then set out what we believe are the main challenges for AI research in understanding its potential relationship to art and art practice.

The conference also included an AI art exhibition, ARTE@IJCAI at the Centre Cultural Borges, which included a new version of Niche Constructions, implemented with robotic drawing machines.

Niche Constructing Robot