Grey Room

Algorithmic Images: Artificial Intelligence and Visual Culture

Antonio Somaini

Grégory Chatonsky. Complétion 1.0, 2021. Still from video installation. © and courtesy the artist. Commissioned by the Centre national des arts plastiques (CNAP).


Since the beginning of the 2010s, the vast field of digital images has been increasingly impacted by different kinds of deep-learning algorithms—one of the forms of so-called artificial intelligence (AI)—that profoundly transform the ways in which images are captured, generated, modified, and seen. I describe the main kinds of deep-learning algorithms that are behind the current transformations and explain in simple terms how they function and how they have been applied within visual culture at large and within a series of contemporary artistic practices that may be particularly relevant in helping us navigate this new landscape. The impact of these algorithms on images is so profound that it raises a series of key aesthetic, epistemological, ontological, and political questions that need to be tackled from both theoretical and media-archaeological perspectives.