From driving to writing, artificial intelligence has worked its way into almost all aspects of everyday life. Reflections of this advancing technology in art and design were only imminent. The contemporary art landscape has witnessed a shift towards creativity, interjected by machine learning, yielding a new generation of art that is not a direct product of the human mind. Although there has been a fair amount of resistance against AI art in the creative community, there have also been multiple artists who are experimenting with the potential of this burgeoning technology. Apart from striding towards the future, can AI also immortalise relics from centuries, bygone?
Studio Nucleo is a collective of artists and designers based in Turin, Italy. Helmed by Italian designer and functional artist Piergiorgio Robino, the practice has built a reputation for its experimental approach to material research and development, positioning itself at the intersection of art, architecture and furniture design. With a desire to dive into the untapped potential of artificial intelligence in art, the design collective embarks on a journey of reincarnating their extant artworks in the universe of AI. Interweaving art and technology, the designers transmute creations such as Souvenir of the Last Century and Metal Fossil—a process wherein the art and its muse coincide in parallel worlds. “This project aligns with our design philosophy, which centers on pushing the boundaries of traditional design to create something new and unexpected,” says Robino. “Our focus on technology as a tool for innovation has allowed us to create art that is not only visually stunning but also thought-provoking and conceptually rich."
Souvenir of the last century is a series of memories upcycled into new physical forms. For the collection, the studio explored materials, experiences, and points of reference—unearthing relics of the past century, in discarded materials belonging to its era. The poignant scars that reside as emblems of passing time are preserved in a contrasting shell of 3D printing production. By embedding veteran craftsmanship in resin, the creators perpetuate memories of mastery and rare skill in a troupe of furniture designs. “With Souvenir of the last century, Studio Nucleo has restored and preserved memories, mummifying fragments from the past, and mixing them up with the physical presence and the action of now,” says the Italian artist. “By creating souvenirs of the last century, also souvenirs for the future have become materialised,” he adds.
These preserved antiquities experience a second stage of contemporisation with the AI project that Studio Nucleo recently commenced. “We began by selecting a series of our existing artworks, including Souvenir of the Last Century, using AI to modify them and experimenting with different algorithms and techniques to create unique and visually stunning pieces,” says Robino. The exploration employing Midjourney culminated in a series of surreal artworks that bring forth the power of technology in transforming creative expression. The Souvenir chair design and stool design appear as if they are pushed through a portal into a futuristic milieu, ensconced in the desert sand, while the fossilised past shines through their see-through bodies. The treatment is reproduced on another artwork by the studio dubbed Metal Fossil, a table design in nickel and copper. Despite switching dimensions from the physical to the digital world, the pieces remain true to their materiality and concept—the sheen of metal surfaces is retained, and the scars defining the original art pieces are conserved.
The AI-modified artworks that the designers have been currently unveiling on social media are only the beginning of a larger vision. The studio plans to take this project even further by transforming the existing images and new, unedited photos into NFTs. The planned course of development conforms to the growing trend of investing in digital art and highlights the percolation of new technologies in the art world. But the protagonist of the series is unequivocally its narratives and storytelling, something the artists achieve by bridging the gap between the past, present, and future. The project emerges as a powerful example of how technology can fuel the creative process and push the boundaries of traditional art—as opposed to being an antagonist in the art world. By creating a project that is not only visually appealing but also equally stirring, Studio Nucleo expresses a willingness to evolve with time—in the process yielding fossils of tomorrow using the fossils of yesterday.
What do you think?