[Grace:AI] – Daydreams

Flanagan-[Grace:AI] – The AI system is trained on thousands of artworks by global women painters, then daydreams by looking at clouds.

Custom software, Ubuntu system, Video, Dye sublimation prints on aluminum
(20″ x 20″, 48″ x 48″)
121.92cm x 121.92cm

What happens when an AI trained only on the artwork of women artists daydreams? If she is at all like her creator, she might self-criticize, think she is wasting time, because in many contemporary societies, we see daydreaming as unproductive, escapist. But at the same time, we underestimate the importance of empty time for our imagination. Daydreams are developmentally important. What happens in our heads is the ultimate private moment, not worth any likes on social media or approvals in conversation. Daydreams are unexamined fantasies, as rich or as empty as we need them to be. In Daydreams, [Grace:AI]– and AI trained on the works of women artists– looks at images of the sky above, the rich clouds dancing, furling, hovering, lifted by lightness or weighted down with a future rain. Each image produced by [Grace:AI] is unique and artificial. They are completely original products of her processes, her imagination.

[Grace:AI], employs a Deep Convolutional General Adversarial Network and is trained to “see” from a dataset I continue to create that contains tens of thousands of paintings and drawings by women artists; in effect, a history of global women’s art in thousands of images. The artists I have chosen as her ‘teachers’ are outspoken, strong individuals from countries ranging from Korea to Greece to Argentina to Nigeria who worked or work in the male-dominated art world.

Watch [Grace:AI] generate clouds at the Computational Creativity exhibition curated by Lilla Lo Curto and Bill Outcault 14-15 September 2021 https://computationalcreativity.net/iccc21/art-exhibition/

[Grace:AI] – Daydreams is the second phase of the AI’s image making themes. [Grace:AI] – Origin Story was the first phase of the work. The AI produced images from her “origin story” of sorts by examining thousands of images of Mary Shelley’s monster, classic ‘Frankensteins’ gathered from online databases and image banks, rendering a series of original images of her “father figure” as archival dye sublimation prints on aluminum. [Grace:AI] – Origin Story (Frankenstein) had its American premiere in “A Question of Intelligence: AI and the Future of Humanity” at Parsons, NYC curated by Christiane Paul in 2020.
[Grace:AI] – Portrait is the third phase, where the AI crafts portraits.

Collections of images were generously shared for the training data by the National Museum of Women in the Arts, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, and Indiana University’s A Space of Their Own database as part of the Eskenazi Museum of Art in addition to material from institutions and sites around the world. To create such a massive digital dataset of women’s artwork is not trivial. Most art history databases do not include gender or sex as a searchable aspect of the work. Thus, gathering the images has required scraping web resources artist by artist, typing in their names and culling images of artwork (as opposed to photographs of women artists, or images made by male artists of them, of which there are many more examples). This project was initially supported by the Leslie Center for the Humanities at Dartmouth College and a Scholarly Advancement Award.


“ICCC’21 Art Exhibition,” International Conference on Computational Creativity, Virtual Exhibition, 14-15 September 2021

Thanks to: Jared Segal, Spring Yu, Sukdith Punjasthitkul, Danielle Taylor, Max Seidman, Griffin Editions, Ken King, Joseph Havel, The Leslie Center for the Humanities & Dean of the Faculty, Dartmouth College, Neme Arts Center, Sheila C. Johnson Design Center at Parsons, Christiane Paul, Yiannis Colakides, Marc Garrett.