Museums and Galleries Are Embracing Digital Art, Exploring AI
July 20, 2023

Museums and Galleries Are Embracing Digital Art, Exploring AI

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“Web3 is expanding art institutions’ reach into audiences it didn’t have access to before,” said Madeleine Pierpont, Web3 Associate for the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA). “Digital art is one of the most accessible art forms of any art form that exists because it can live in so many places in our lives.”

The insight was one of many that emerged from a panel discussion at the world’s largest art auction house, Christie’s, in New York. This year’s  Art+Tech Summit  program included a session titled “AI, Digital Assets and the Future of Museums and Galleries.”

The conversation largely revolved around how Web3, Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs) and AI are impacting the art landscape worldwide. 

Digital art isn’t new to MoMA, Pierpont said, pointing to the institution’s involvement in the space since 1960. The more recent emergence of blockchain and NFTs has prompted MoMA to create a multidisciplinary Web3 team.

Lukas Amacher, Managing Director of 1OF1—a collector’s club that specializes in digital art—explained that the zeitgeist is “art in the digital age, rather than digital art.” According to him, NFT’s are the “enabler” that told them “collecting digital objects makes sense now.”

“I think the Web3 world suffers from the same illness that the art world suffers from—they’re both very, very siloed, and both very self referential,” he said. “What we’re trying to do is build a bridge between the two and try to help explain what we see going on in the digital world, because we think that the best art is always a reflection of the human condition through the lens of its era, and we clearly live in a digital time.”

“The decentralized nature of it and the real possibilities that it offers you institutions are vast,” said Anthony Troisi, Director of Finance & Operations for the Miami Institute of Contemporary Art. We’re just scratching the surface on what that looks like.”

The cryptocurrency space, meanwhile, is still in its infancy, Troisi said.

“We recognize that it is very early,” he said, adding that his institute is working with the tech community to “create best practices” and exploring what this new reality means. 

Artificial Intelligence (AI), which has gained a substantial amount of momentum over the past months, was briefly addressed during the session, with Amacher saying it could shift the fundamental focus of visual art.

“I think we’re moving from an age where the image is a final object to an age where the image is a process and there is no more final image—they’re all an interpretation of the previous image, which basically means that, funnily enough, the concept is becoming more important and the aesthetics are not as relevant.”

The moderator, New Museum Deputy Director Isolde Brielmaier, asked about the threat AI might pose to the curatorial process.

“I think AI is a tool—I don’t see much legitimacy in the of threat of AI on artistic production and curation,” Pierpoint said. “We all understand that AI might be a part of our practice, if it has the potential to add more complexity and elevate the starting point of thinking about your art.”

Anthony Troisi was on board with her view, claiming the “human curation aspect is always first and foremost,” although in his view, AI can “facilitate some of the more labor intensive research components of the curation task and possibly draw connections that you wouldn’t otherwise have drawn individually.”

The Art + Tech conference continues through tomorrow.

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