AI art beyond the gallery: exploring the capacity of cultural institutions to impact tech policy

  • Led by Prof Mercedes Bunz, King’s College London
  • Partnered with: Serpentine Galleries

This fellowship investigates how a cultural institution’s invested in AI art can shape public policy. The fellow will study the commissioning of AI exhibitions and engage with policymakers to translate this knowledge into impactful policy recommendations.

When cultural institutions like Serpentine commission works that employ AI, they learn a lot about the technology. This project looks at how AI art can be influential beyond the gallery to government policies, offering a fresh viewpoint based on an acquired deep technical understanding of AI from an arts and humanities angle. Responding to the emergence of art and tech departments in cultural institutions the project asks: “How can art organisations use the insights they obtain when commissioning and producing works with AI beyond the gallery to inform and impact tech policy?” To answer this question, the project will collaborate with Serpentine’s Creative AI Lab. Serpentine’s Arts Technologies department, which has initiated the Creative AI Lab, has demonstrated a long-term investment in critical and interdisciplinary perspectives on emerging technologies through artistic interventions that work towards a vibrant, imaginative, and creative vision of responsible AI futures.

The research is invested in exploring the opening of a dialogue between Art Technologies departments such as the one at Serpentine and policy makers and civic initiatives sharing the knowledge gained during their commissioning process. Using methods from technology studies, this project will explore how the technical knowledge within a cultural institution makes it an exceptional space to translate learnings for policymaking. To do so, it will observe the development and prototyping of artworks that employ AI. At the same time, interviews, surveys, and workshops with UK policymakers and civic initiatives will be held to understand how artistic research such as the above could be best translated to inform policy. The project will disseminate the findings in a report created in collaboration with Serpentine and will initiate workshops and a conference that will connect policy makers and civic initiatives with art and technology curators and experts from UK art institutions. Through this, the project aims to carve a path for artistic AI research to become a significant and recognised factor in policymaking leading to a broader and more humane understanding of AI.

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