The Third Place, an independent art centre in St. Petersburg is currently hosting an exhibition called Psychotherapist for Artificial Intelligence.
While Midjourney and other neural-network-based tools for creating images have recently caused controversy in the art world, more artists and writers are treating AI as their partner, not the enemy, and use it as a tool. Moscow Conceptualist artist Pavel Pepperstein (b.1966) has co-written a book of fiction called ‘Trying to Wake Up’ with a neural network. The collection contains twenty-four stories, half of them written by the author himself, and the other half generated on the basis of Pepperstein's works and interviews, and texts of classical literature.
Among Russian artists working with AI is Yegor Kraft (b. 1986). In the project ‘Content Aware Studies’, presented at the Anna Nova Gallery in St.Petersburg, he used machine learning and artificial intelligence technologies to try to reconstruct the loss of ancient sculpture, as well as generate ‘antique’ works that did not exist before.
::vtol::, or Dmitry Morozov (b. 1984), makes complex robotic devices that produce poetic work. For example, in the multimedia installation ‘Low Pressure Calculations’, on view at the State Hermitage Museum, he uses contactless RFID technology, fans, automatic doors and a thermal printer to create what can be described as wind music. All the elements are controlled by an algorithm that has to keep track of repetitive and established sequences to avoid them and make the sound as natural as possible.
Between 2018 and 2021 the Hermitage staged several exhibitions dedicated to artificial intelligence and digital art. Over the past two years, this tradition has not been maintained, and alternative venues, galleries and cultural spaces, are helping to fill the gap. One of the notable recent examples is Psychotherapist for AI (until February 26), a show put together by curators Anastasia Garnova and Il Gurn at the Third Place, one of St.Petersburg’s independent venues.
The exhibition space is located in the Lopukhin-Naryshkin mansion, an historicist building with lots of stucco, preserved fireplaces, an impressive grand staircase, mosaics on the floor, columns, and carved doors. At various times it was home to Prince Lopukhin, the philanthropist Naryshkin, the infamous statesman Pobedonostsev, the Red Railwayman club, the train drivers' school and later the squat (hence the graffiti and tagging on the walls). The building is now in the process of restoration.
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