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Algorithmic Assemblages: Do Machines Dream of Art?


Amid recent discourse surrounding Artificial Intelligence (AI)-generated art, its implications for the future of human artists, and art itself, this exhibit challenges the typical roles of man and machine. Instead of prompting AI to create art, we let a computer algorithm prompt us. 

Our algorithm comes from artist Holland Hopson’s 2019 installation: A Work of Art for Every Entry in Index—Subjects—Library of Congress (to view the project, click the tab titled "Holland Hopson's Work" in the top banner). In it, Hopson’s own algorithm combines phrases from a list of artistic media and the United States Library of Congress Subjects Index to generate possible, but very likely unreal, works of art. These item descriptions are generated every 30 seconds in an endless loop on an LCD screen as computer images resembling notecards. Algorithmic Assemblages: Do Machines Dream of Art? moves beyond this screen and actualizes 10 objects assembled by Hopson’s algorithm.

Algorithmically-derived classification systems, like that from the Library of Congress, can provide a framework for artistic creation; however, human creativity and imagination are needed to turn classification into a meaningful and generative, rather than merely descriptive, activity. Because of this novel aspect of our project, we found ourselves exploring various possible approaches to materializing these whimsical, even absurd, item descriptions. Those approaches fell generally into three categories: the literal, the abstract, and the humorous. In the following webpages, we encourage you to explore what each of these approaches meant to us, through images of our pieces accompanied by artist statements. 

This website is the digital version of a physical exhibit that will run from March 30-April 13, 2023 on the first floor of the iSchool (UTA), room 1.506. To encourage further discovery through our virtual component, we have included links to websites explaining the different elements of each art piece’s algorithmically-generated description. Feel free to use these links to explore the artistic possibilities of the Library of Congress Subject Headings!

Many thanks to our professor, Sarah Norris, for all of her guidance and support!