AI Artist Spotlight: Memo Akten
As the art industry continues to grow, artists are constantly discovering new and more creative ways of generating unique pieces of art. One of the latest techniques is the use of artificial intelligence (AI) to generate text-to-image AI artwork. This has also given rise to non-fungible tokens (NFTs), which have given artists a reliable way to earn income from their digital pieces.
However, the emergence of NFTs in the crypto world has come with its fair share of effects on the environment, as the system is based on fossil fuels that have pushed energy consumption and CO2 emissions up drastically. These discoveries were made by artists who recently set out to study the environmental effect of NFTs.
One of those artists is Memo Akten, an environmentally conscious digital visual artist, whose recent findings were published on Medium. He has been working and trialling new technologies, particularly the use of AI in art; Akten has also been analysing AI-image generators with the hope of understanding the core of human nature.
Born in 1975 in Istanbul, Turkey, Memo Akten is a digital visual artist and creative scientist recognized globally for his annexation of advanced technologies, devices, and software systems to create unique multimedia experiences.
Akten hopes to use these experiences to “change our perception of our relationship with science, technology, nature, and culture.” Akten has created numerous artworks using AI systems, including Forms, which won the Golden Nica at the Prix Ars Electronica in 2013. He collaborated with another popular visual artist, Quayola, to create Forms, which comprises an assortment of studies on how humans move and reverberate in space and time.
His inquisitive mind and deep interest in AI led him to undertake a huge project called Learning to See, which consists of a sequence of works created using machine learning algorithms. He wanted to test the system’s ability to create the same works as those created by humans–the pieces were therefore inspired by ordinary objects surrounding him.
Akten’s most recent work is known as Meditations, which is a series of continuing video and sound installations that take you on a spiritual journey–this series is delivered through the resourcefulness of a deep artificial neural network. Together with other renowned digital artists like Mario Klingemann, Sougwen Chung, and Sofia Crespo, Akten has put a spotlight on AI art and its impact on the environment.
Akten graduated from Bogazici University with a Bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering in 1997. In 2012, he created an exhibition known as Meet Your Creator, which involved a live dramatic performance using kinetic light systems operated by quadrotor drones. This exhibition was produced for the Saatchi & Saatchi New Directors’ Platform.
As noted above, Akten was awarded the Prix Ars Electronica Golden Nica award for his amazing 3D project titled Forms, which he co-created with Quayola. His works have been included in numerous publications, including Wallpaper, Dezeen, Eye Magazine, Dazed, Wired, Financial Times, and The Guardian.
Because Akten is a big fan of open-source software, he’s a major contributor to the openFrameworks project. He also offers local and international lectures and workshops, and owns a creative technology studio known as The Mega Super Awesome Visuals Company (MSA Visuals), which he founded in 2007. This company has since evolved into Marshmallow Laser Feast.