Moises Sanabria on AI in the White Cube

Venezuelan-born, Miami-based Moises Sanabria can be considered a master of the digital. Co-founder of tech-focused creative collective Art404, Sanabria works with AI, machine learning and VR as well as film, and often relates his work to pop- and internet culture. His projects have featured in a range of publications from The Guardian to Dazed & Confused magazine, and from BuzzFeed to Business Insider. It’s a testament to the breadth and relevance of his work, and his astute insight into the implications of integrating new technologies in our societies.

In this interview Electric Artefacts and Sanabria discuss the integration of AI in the creative industry, the varying aspects of online and offline, and the balancing of focus.

Tell us about your medium, in what ways does Machine Learning spark your interests?

I’m inspired by poetic computation, the belief that the field of humanities can advance the direction of technology.

The Machine Learning ecosystem enhances my understanding of patterns in everyday life and invokes me to create works that discuss neural commodification, the impact of open-source software, and the future of fair-use.

Moises Sanabria & Tom Galle, PC Liquid Cooled Nike Air Max Deluxe OG, 2018

How do you see Machine Learning spreading throughout the creative industry in the next 5 years?

Creative ML tools allow artists to curate generative predictions created by the machine learning models. This new curation process that artists take upon further adds art direction to machine learning as a medium. Creative exploration in the field will grow in dialogue with the adoption of ML happening in every product and service. In 5 years, the standardization of a creative machine learning practice will diversify content production at all levels of industry. I believe the artistic dialogue the medium provides allows for necessary critique of the technology and improves the direction of AI ethics.

Turning specifically to fine art, does being exhibited either online or offline influence your work’s impact on a viewer?

I believe the physical experience of being in the presence of an artwork enhances the piece. The physical experience can be through a digital screen as well as a brick-and-mortar exhibition space.

In a virtual exhibition, the piece, ​“Beyond Sculpture”​ allows me to highlight it’s generative properties, and in a physical exhibition ground the work in the context and dialogue of contemporary sculpture.
Moises Sanabria, Beyond Sculpture II, 2020

Could you tell us about the process of making “Beyond Sculpture,” the work exhibited in our Inaugural Exhibition. Did you have any visual references in mind?

“Beyond Sculpture”, i​s the idea of artificially defining 20th and 21st century aesthetics of contemporary sculpture through a neural network. The machine learning model is trained to generate objects in the white cube, a context-less space with its even white walls and unnatural lighting. By teaching a model to find patterns in the diverse multi-material history of white cube fine art sculpture, I’m interested in how the machine calculates the sublime nature of contemporary art.

I’m inspired by the sculptural electronic constructions of artist Nam-June Paik, drawing from his body of work the mixing of digital and physical mediums. I’m also influenced by the conceptual sculptures of artist Sol Lewitt and his intuition to imbue objects with generative anti-material ideas.

What is the biggest challenge to your practice?

The part of my practice that is taking me a lifetime to master is gracefully juggling my focus between my honest present opportunity and my realistic expectations of my future. To continuously balance and intertwine technological evolution with poetic artistic expression.

Moises Sanabria & Tom Galle, 2017

To learn more about Moises Sanabria, explore his work at Electric Artefacts’ Inaugural Show here.

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