Artificial intelligence (AI) is not only transforming the way that we communicate, work, and learn, but also the way that we create and appreciate art. Can AI also curate an exhibition? That's the question that the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University explored in its latest show, “Act as if you are a curator: an AI-generated exhibition.” The exhibition, which runs from September 9, 2023 to January 14, 2024, features 25 artworks from the museum's collection, selected and arranged by ChatGPT, a powerful AI chatbot that can read and generate text in response to questions, requests, or conversation.

ChatGPT uses a deep learning technique called Generative Pre-trained Transformer (GPT), which can learn from large amounts of text data and produce coherent and diverse texts on various topics, but it cannot access the museum's online database of artworks. To overcome this limitation, students and faculty in Duke's Art, Art History and Visual Studies Department and the Duke Digital Art History and Visual Culture Research Lab created a tool to extract publicly accessible information from the museum's collection database and transform it into machine-readable data that ChatGPT can understand. They then developed a series of prompts and instructions for ChatGPT that asked it to select artworks for the exhibition based on certain criteria, such as theme, medium, date, or color. They also asked ChatGPT to generate wall texts and labels for the artworks, as well as instructions for placing them in the gallery.

The exhibition is an experiment that aims to explore the applications and implications of AI in the field of art and curating. It raises questions such as: What is the role of human expertise and judgment in selecting and interpreting artworks? How can AI enhance or challenge our understanding and appreciation of art? What are the ethical and social issues that arise from using AI to create and curate art?

The Nasher Museum invites visitors to engage with these questions and share their feedback and opinions on the exhibition. The museum also provides additional resources and articles on the topic of AI and art on its website . The exhibition is part of a larger initiative by the museum to explore the impact of technology on art and society, which includes other exhibitions such as “Artificial Imagination,” which features AI-generated images, and “Digital Disruption,” which examines how digital technologies have transformed art making and viewing. More information on this exhibition and other events organized by Nasher Museum can be found on their site.

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