Big Data and Art: Can machine learning technology recreate the work of Gaudi?

Big Data and Art: Can machine learning technology recreate the work of Gaudi?

How Big Data is being used in the world of art and design

Of course, the Watson system doesn’t have arms (yet!) – so it still needs human help to create a physical sculpture. In fact, as Jonas Nwuke, IBM Watson manager, is keen to point out, its role is “augmentation”, rather than as a replacement for human creativity. In this case, a team of designers from New York agency SOFTLab were charged with creating the sculpture “informed” by Watson.

As Nwuke told me “…if you can distill some of the essence of the original artist’s work then you can give that to Watson and it can go out and find it in other places – other images and pieces of information – and bring it back to the artists, who can use what it finds as an inspiration or a starting point.”

The human sculptors and designers responsible for putting together the finished work of art from wrought iron, which was unveiled at the Mobile World Congress 2017, said that Watson suggested a theme of natural organic shapes and structures, such as beehives, crabs and shellfish, which had not immediately been apparent to them. The result is a structure which is “unmistakably reminiscent” of Gaudi’s work, yet at the same time very distinctive.


The technical details

IBM’s machine learning system was fed hundreds of images of Gaudi’s work, as well as images related to Barcelona and its culture. Documents such as biographies, historical articles and song lyrics on the theme were then added to the mix. Watson’s visual recognition, natural language processing and colour-matching tools were then used to identify objects, themes and ideas – Gaudi’s, as well as those that inspired him – and use them as the foundation of its own work.


Ideas and insights you can steal

A lot has been written lately about how AI, machine learning and robotics will see many people out of a job within the next few years. In this example, machine learning and humans came together to create something that otherwise may never have occurred. This shows how human creativity can be augmented by artificial intelligence, not necessarily replaced. That’s a useful, and very timely, lesson.

You can read more about how all types of companies and industries are using Big Data to drive success in Big Data in Practice: How 45 Successful Companies Used Big Data Analytics to Deliver Extraordinary Results.



Written by

Bernard Marr

Bernard Marr is a world-renowned futurist, influencer and thought leader in the field of business and technology. He is the author of 18 best-selling books, writes a regular column for Forbes and advises and coaches many of the world’s best-known organisations. He has 2 million social media followers and was ranked by LinkedIn as one of the top 5 business influencers in the world and the No 1 influencer in the UK.

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