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Lev Manovich

One billion Rembrandts? Inside Visual AI Revolution

Auditori COAC - Col·legi Oficial Arquitectes de Catalunya
Plaça Nova, 5 Barcelona

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Lev Manovich is the most cited author in the world in digital culture, digital art and new media fields; one of three most cited in media theory and digital humanities. He was included in the list of “25 People Shaping the Future of Design” and the list of “50 Most Interesting People Building the Future”. Currently he is a Presidential Professor at The Graduate Center, City University of New York, and a Director of the Cultural Analytics Lab.

Over last three decades, he published 180 articles and 15 books that include Cultural Analytics, Instagram and Contemporary Image, and The Language of New Media described as “the most suggestive and broad-ranging media history since Marshall McLuhan.” Manovich’s digital art projects were shown in 112 international exhibitions in Centre Pompidou, ICA London, ZKM, KIASMA, and other leading venues.

One billion Rembrandts? Inside Visual AI Revolution

In an article about people using AI image synthesis tools, Financial Times called this “a pivotal moment in the history of art.” (10/27/2022). Wall Street Journal referred to these tools as “full of potential unknowns” (10/19/2022) and also compared their arrival to another major technological revolution in art - the adoption of photography in the 19th century (8/19/2022). New Yorker magazine stated: “How we work — even think — changes when we can instantly command convincing images into existence.” (9/19/2022) New York Times wrote that “A.I.-based image generators like DALL-E 2, Midjourney and Stable Diffusion have made it possible for anyone to create unique, hyper-realistic images just by typing a few words into a text box.” (10/21/2022)

Are we indeed living through a major revolution in visual culture? Is it true that “anybody” can create “unique” images using this technology? In my talk I will critically evaluate some of the claims made about AI Image Synthesis, and suggest alternative ways of understanding it. The talk draws on the latest chapter in the book “Artificial Aesthetics: a Critical Guide to AI, Design and Media” (Manovich and Arielli, 2021-) being published online at manovich.net.