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    As part of the ongoing dialogue over artificial intelligence and art Christie’s is set to become the first major auction house to offer a work of art created by an algorithm. Portrait of Edmond de Belamy ($7,000-10,000), created by artificial intelligence and conceived by the Paris-based collective Obvious, which will be included in the Prints & Multiples auction in New York from October 23-25. It is estimated at $7,000-10,000.

    The portrait depicts a gentleman, possibly French and — to judge by his dark frock coat and plain white collar — a man of the church. The work appears unfinished: the facial features are somewhat indistinct and there are blank areas of canvas. The portrait, however, is not the product of a human mind. It is one of a group of 11 unique portraits of the fictional Belamy family conceived by the Paris based collective Obvious consisting of Hugo Caselles-Dupré, Pierre Fautrel and Gauthier Vernier.

    Obvious is engaged in exploring the interface between art and artificial intelligence, using a method known as a ‘generative adversarial network’ or the acronym GAN. This series is referred to as “La Famille de Belamy,” was named as a tribute to the inventor of GANs, Ian Goodfellow (“Goodfellow” is roughly translated to “Bel ami” in French). Created by an algorithm composed of two parts, The Generator and the Discriminator, the system was fed a data set of 15,000 portraits. has to ask if this is some sort of flash in the pan or does it represent a new future.  No doubt AI can be taught the technical details of how to paint but can it ever evoke an emotional human response or can it achieve the essential human dimension that marks a great work of art?

    UPDATE: IT SOLD FOR $432,000

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