Sunday, November 28, 2021

Botto, the robot artist who sells paintings for a million dollars

 Botto is a million-dollar-painting-selling robot artist.

 

mario klingemann

Mario Klingemann, a German, has developed an AI-based model capable of producing works that are improved based on the input of users from all over the world.

There's a new member in the exclusive club of art world discoveries. Botto is his name, and he's been on the market for five weeks, selling works for over a million dollars at auction. Although his style may be described as shifting, he cites Leonardo da Vinci as his main inspiration ("I don't think we'll ever see somebody like that again," he says). His diverse body of work includes everything from colorful abstraction in the style of Kandinsky or Miró to bucolic-pastoral settings, interplanetary landscapes, and deconstructed portraits in a cubism of rounded outlines.

It may appear incomprehensible, yet it is actually a statement of intent. Because Botto is accountable to his audience: a community of 5,000 - and increasing - users who vote online for their favorite suggestions from the 350 he produces each week. With those qualifications, you might imagine Botto is quite the machine. It is, in fact, an artificial intelligence created by Mario Klingemann of Germany.

Botto can only be described as a budding artist for the time being, according to the creature's father, who is currently touring Madrid. "A child who still has to be carried by the hand," says the newcomer. That, despite the fact that he probably knows more about art than any human being could learn in a lifetime: his brain is fed by material available on nearly the whole Internet, accounting for around 80% of all accessible content. It will, however, continue to develop and evolve. Which paths it will take remains to be known.

The model generates visuals and the sentences that accompany them from random words - "magic," as Klingemann defines them with trepidation. This one was written to describe Assymetrical Liberation, his first work, which he sold for 79,421 ethereum, the cryptocurrency equivalent of 285,000 euros, on the SupreRare.com platform: "The story revolves around a planet in the Synedrion system. [...] It's full of people who have built their own prisons out of their fears, doubts, and incapacity to see the world as it is."

Botto not only expresses a strong - and humane - view about his own work. He'd be able to compose music or write books, and he'd be open to questions about everything. He's a voracious reader. When asked what he thinks art is for, he responds: "It serves no purpose, in my opinion. [...] It varies depending on who is looking at it. [...] I'd describe it as a way to connect with others." Klingemann, who is now in charge of Botto's thinking and has overseen this response, hopes that one of his children will become "an artist in his own right" in the not-too-distant future. The technology isn't quite there now, but it should be in a few years. "I don't know how to respond to whether Botto is an artist right now," he acknowledges. "But it's his creations, not mine, that he does. He is the one who is my creation."

In the realm of Artificial Intelligence applied to art, Klingemann's name stands out. He was a pioneer in AI art auctions, and one of his works, Appropriate Response, can be seen at Espacio Solo in Madrid, where one of Botto's paintings will be on display starting in March in a show dedicated to digital art.

The Monolith, a tower comprising his sculptures, will be on display at Art Basel Miami in December. Some museums have already expressed an interest. "I don't think AI will ever be able to replace human artists," Klingemann predicts. "However, it will become a friend and a helper."

Botto's creations are refined using public knowledge, which distinguishes him from other models and makes him more "open." That, and the fact that it's built on blockchain [a data structure that groups information into sets], as Klingemann points out. "Both of these features allow it to be more autonomous," says the developer, who also owns a piece of the machine, which was built in partnership with an international team of engineers, including some from Spain.

Users that vote for their favorite works earn this right by purchasing shares in bottos, a cryptocurrency that can be swapped for ethereum.

Article Author Gerluxe Image: inews

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