Computational Design Laboratory

Varvara Gulajeva’s CD Lecture(10/14)

Artist Guided Neural Networks: Automated Creativity or Tools for Extending Minds?

October 14 at 5pm – 6:30pm ET | MMCH 303


Technology, like AI, is present in the generation and the distribution of culture. How do artists exploit neural networks for creative purposes, and what impact have these algorithms on contemporary practices? Through practice-based research methods, we have been exploring the potentials and limits of current AI technology, more precisely neural networks in the context of image, text, and form. From the proof of concept, deep learning (DL) has evolved into a tool that is applied for art production. Even more, we see a specific genre or cluster emerging that specifically concentrates on art made with AI. In terms of DL development, in a relatively short time, the generation of high-resolution images and 3D objects has been achieved. What is more exciting, there are models, like CLIP and text2mesh, that do not need the same kind of media input as the output. The first one is the text-to-image model. Such a twist contributes toward creativity arousal, which manifests itself in art practice and feeds back to the developers’ pipeline. Yet again, we see how the artists act as catalysts for technology development.
Such novel creative scenarios and processes are enabled not only by available AI models but by the hard work behind implementing these new technologies into real-time and autonomous applications with custom-made data sets and algorithms. AI does not create a ‘push the button’ masterpiece but requires quite a deep understanding of the technology behind it and a creative mind to come up with high-quality work. Our previous research has shown that the most interesting and valuable results are achieved when DL tools are combined with human input. Thus, AI opens new avenues for inspiration and offers novel tool sets but fails to automate creativity.


Dr Varvara Guljajeva is an artist and researcher holding the position of Assistant Professor in Computational Media and Arts Thrust at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (Guangzhou). Previously, she held positions at the Estonian Academy of Arts and Elisava Design School in Barcelona. Varvara was invited as a visiting researcher to XRL, Creative School of Media in the Hong Kong City University, IAMAS (Ogaki, Japan), LJMU (Liverpool, UK), Interface Cultures in the Linz University of Art, and Design, Blekinge Institute of Technology (Karlshamn, Sweden). Her PhD thesis “From Interaction to Post-Participation: The Disappearing Role of the Active Participant” (defended in 2018 in the Estonian Academy of Arts) was selected as the highest-ranking abstracts by Leonardo Labs in 2020. As an artist, she works together with Mar Canet forming an artist duo Varvara & Mar. Often the duo’s work is inspired by the information age. In their practice, they confront social changes and the impact of the technological era. The duo has been exhibiting in international shows since 2009. Their works were shown at MAD in New York, FACT in Liverpool, Santa Monica in Barcelona, Barbican in London, Onassis Cultural Centre in Athens, Ars Electronica museum in Linz, ZKM in Karlsruhe, and more.

Author: Yang Bai
Category: News