AI-created statue inspired by five famous sculptors on show in Sweden

Called the Impossible Statue, the work is 150cm tall and weighs 500kg

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The works of a historical dream team of five master sculptors, including Michelangelo, Rodin and Takamura, have been used to train artificial intelligence to design a sculpture dubbed the Impossible Statue, now on show in a Swedish museum.

"This is a true statue created by five different masters who would never have been able to collaborate in real life," said Pauliina Lunde, a spokeswoman for Swedish machine engineering group Sandvik, which used three AI software programmes to create the artwork.

Shaking up traditional conceptions about creativity and art, the stainless steel statue depicts an androgynous person with the lower half of the body covered by a swath of material, holding a bronze globe in one hand.

The sculpture is inspired by the works of five masters, including Michelangelo, Rodin and Takamura. AFP

On show at Stockholm's National Museum of Science and Technology, the statue measures 150cm and weighs 500kg.

The idea was to create a mix of styles from five famed sculptors who each made their mark on their era: Michelangelo (Italy, 1475-1564), Auguste Rodin (France, 1840-1917), Kathe Kollwitz (Germany, 1867-1945), Kotaro Takamura (Japan, 1883-1956) and Augusta Savage (US, 1892-1962).

"Something about it makes me feel like this is not made by a human being," Julia Olderius, in charge of concept development at the museum, told AFP.

Visitors will note the muscular body inspired by Michelangelo, and the hand holding the globe inspired by Takamura. Sandvik's engineers trained the AI by feeding images of sculptures created by the five artists.

The software then proposed several images in 2D which it believed reflected key aspects from each of the artists.

"In the end we had 2D images of the sculpture in which we could see the different masters reflected. Then we put these 2D images into 3D modeling," Olderius said.

But is it art, or technological prowess?

"I don't think you can define what art is. It's up to every human being to see, 'this is art, this is not art'. And it's up to the audience to decide," Olderius said.

Amid debate about the role of AI in the art world, Olderius said she was optimistic.

"I don't think you have to be afraid of what AI is doing with creativity or concepts or art and design," she said. "I just think you have to adapt to a new future where technology is a part of how we create concepts and art."

Updated: June 10, 2023, 10:27 AM