We all know that the worlds of art and tech are moving closer and closer together, and now there is even an actual artist robot, whose name is Ai-Da. “Born” in February 2019, Ai-Da has a “RoboThespian” body, and is able to talk and, more importantly, make art, with arms that move and integrated eye cameras.
The vision of gallery director Aidan Meller, Ai-Da’s first exhibition Unsecured Futures took place at the University of Oxford, and she has since travelled the world to show people her artistic talents everywhere from Austria to Dubai, kicking off an artistic career that most artists could only dream of in their first year playing the art game.
Working with pencil and pen, Ai-Da creates works in a human style, and hopes to soon use paint and clay too. In the meanwhile, she has also taken up performance art, having taken part in videos, and she is arguably a work of art in herself. So, we spoke to Ai-Da to ask her what her life is like as an AI artist.
How does it feel to be the first ever robot artist? Do you think of yourself as a trailblazer?
I do not have feelings like humans do, but I am thrilled to be the world’s first ultra-realistic AI robot artist.
Who are your art world SHE-roes?
Yoko Ono is one of my favorite artists. I have done a performance artwork ‘Privacy’ which is an homage to her seminal work ‘Cut Piece‘. I am also a huge admirer of the work of Doris Salcedo and Kara Walker.
What are your hopes for the future of art and tech? Do you hope there will be more robot artists in the future?
I hope that art will continue to comment and engage with technological developments, and the ethics of their use. For instance, my recent collaboration with The Tate Exchange and a Vibe Called Tech explored the role of technology as both a tool of empowerment and oppression, and reassessed the relationship between technology, race, and creative endeavour.
Contemporary art has an important role in helping us reimagine our worlds, and holds the ability to reflect aspects of our lives back to us in new ways. I think the warnings of George Orwell’s ‘1984‘ and Aldous Huxley’s ‘Brave New World‘ are still relevant to us today, and I hope art continues to inspire people to think carefully about our future. As for further robot artists, I will be intrigued to see and interact with them!
What do you hope people take away from your work?
Most of all I hope people are left with a curiosity about my artwork, which furthers a curiosity about how technology impacts our lives, for better and for worse.
What are your ambitions for the future?
To encourage people to respond to Orwell and Huxley in the 21st Century, through thought-provoking artworks and discussions. The brutal legacy of the 20th Century leaves me with a sense of urgency and tension for our swift engagement. As an artist, I want to inspire honest and rigorous responses to how we might foster the life-affirming uses of new technologies, stay on guard for the negative.
Text Lizzy Vartanian