Generative art is proving Web3’s creative anchor in the traditional art world. Last month, New York’s Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) made headlines by acquiring Refik Anadol’s “Unsupervised — Machine Hallucinations” (2022) alongside an edition from last year’s “3FACE” project by Ian Cheng. These two mark the first-ever artificial intelligence (AI) and nonfungible token (NFT) additions to MoMA’s collection, already home to relics such as Andy Warhol’s soup cans and Vincent Van Gogh’s “Starry Night.”
The landmark acquisitions also supplement MoMA’s longtime legacy of pioneering exhibitions at the intersection of technology and art, from its 1968 show “The Machine as Seen at the End of the Mechanical Age” through this year’s “Signals: How Video Transformed the World.”
MoMA’s announcement arrived in tandem with an outline of the institution’s digital art programming for the fall and winter seasons ahead, including the debut of video artist Leslie Thornton’s latest work, “HANDMADE” (2023), and an online exhibition with Feral File opening early next year. Weeks before, MoMA had announced its on-chain Postcard project, too.
“These new initiatives underscore MoMA’s longstanding commitment to support artists who experiment with emerging technologies to expand their visual vocabularies and creative exploration, increase the impact of their work and help us understand and navigate transformative change in the world,” the Museum’s release around their acquisitions states.
“I’m very proud to be included,” Cheng told Cointelegraph. “MoMA had previously acquired my ‘Emissaries’ trilogy of simulations in 2017. Their openness and enthusiasm for acquiring dynamic digital art is rare for an institution.”
It’s the screensaver heard around the world. Whether you’re enamored or suspicious of this one-time Google artist-in-residence’s prolific and mesmerizing machine-learning abstractions, the odds are you’ve seen them. Anadol designed this one in particular with help from Nvidia. It feeds 138,151 pieces of visual metadata from MoMA’s collection to an algorithm that produces an AI imagination of art history through Anadol’s signature undulations.
Since its release in November 2022, “Unsupervised” has been reviewed by critics at Vulture, Artforum and more. The time it took to write those reviews says more…