Dubai exhibition pits man against machine, artists versus AI

The National dives into Deep Blue, an immersive showcase that turns NFTs and crypto into reality at the Theatre of Digital Art

Deep Blue: Man + Machine is running for two days at the Theatre of Digital Art, Souk Madinat. Pawan Singh / The National
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Digital art is becoming more mainstream.

Recently, there has been an influx of artists creating and sharing digital art created using various AI tools.

But digital art doesn’t only have to be experienced through a screen.

Deep Blue: Man + Machine is an immersive audio-visual showcase taking place at Dubai's Theatre of Digital Art, Souk Madinat, on Saturday and Sunday. It is a stepping stone towards navigating the metaverse, NFTs and crypto.

Organised by the Morrow collective, an arts initiative aiming to bridge the gap between traditional and crypto art, the exhibition includes an interpretative dance performance, a curator’s tour, a workshop on curating digital art and a metaverse VR experience.

“We want people to have this have this experience, have this realisation that digital art is not restricted,” Morrow collective curator Anna Seaman tells The National.

“It is about bringing in the fact that there are ideas of concept creation, narrative, a story and something to think about as well when it comes to digital art and an event like this.”

Deep Blue was chess-playing software run on an IBM supercomputer. Seaman was interested in the concept and history of Deep Blue and how it relates to questions about how technology has integrated into all aspects of our lives.

She believes the intrigue and concerns specifically around AI across society can only really be explored within the arts.

“I truly believe that where else other than in the field of art can we have these ideas?” Seaman says. “We're not in science, we're not telling you X and Y, we are exploring ideas.”

Ten artists from the Morrow collective were asked to respond to the theme of man versus machine. They are Audrey Miller and Stanislav Bartnikas in Dubai, Gary Cartlidge, Martha Fiennes and Jake-Andrew in the UK, Glass Crane in the US, Hipworth and Zam in Australia, Lamia Eda Kula in Turkey, and Tomas Mujica Perez in Spain.

Their varying styles and perspectives result in art that can be experienced in several ways at the event.

The most immersive of those is a 15-minute film that combines digital works with music and is projected across the theatre. Viewers are submerged in the art, which flashes and moves across the walls and ceiling, while two dancers in the physical space engage in an interpretive and improvised performance.

“We asked the artists to respond to this theme, because there's no right answer to this question,” Seaman adds.

“That's part of the fear-driven thought around this idea that machines are going to take over the world. We don't know the potential of technology yet. We're really just scraping the surface. And some of the artists in here, address that in really interesting ways.”

Deep Blue: Man + Machine runs on Saturday and Sunday; Theatre of Digital Art, Souk Madinat. More information is available at

Updated: August 26, 2023, 7:03 AM