AI Artist Spotlight: Robbie Barrat
Robbie Barrat is one of the youngest artists to utilise artificial intelligence to push the limits of what neural networks can create, specialising within the field of traditional arts. Through his works, Barrat has discovered a way through which traditional art can be reinvented with AI.
Barrat was born in Dublin in 1999. He grew up in West Virginia and worked at INVIDIA as a researcher in a bioinformatics lab at Stanford University.
Barrat’s work stands out because he aims to explore a variety of domains through machine learning and generative adversarial networks (GANs) in the realm of fashion, art history, and architecture. His work has put him at the forefront of the AI-generated art movement, along with artists like Stephanie Dinkins and David Cope.
Upon viewing AI-generated nude portraits created by Barrat, L'Avant Galerie Vossen urged Barrat to work with French painter Ronan Barrot.
One of the main exhibitions Barrat made in collaboration included “BARRAT/BARROT: Infinite Skulls–an unprecedented encounter between a painter and an artist-researcher in artificial intelligence." This artwork featured an infinite number of skulls, and there have been hundreds of related paintings made since. This collaboration has gone on to include digital and analog creators and paved the way for new forms of creative partnerships.
Portraits and Landscapes
Through the implementation of what is known as a “Progressive Growing of GAN,” alongside the implementation of thousands of nude portraits from sources such as WikiArt, Barrat trained an AI to produce new nude portraits. However, the machine was lacking when it came to giving these figures proper attributes, so it generated blobs of flesh. This was an early indication of how machines viewed humans based on the data they were fed.
Barrat attempted the same work with portraits, in which a neural network was trained to create new paintings. These ended up being both realistic and surreal at the same time; the result of this experiment was the conclusion that the longer a network is trained, the more it will produce murky and dark paintings.
Barrat’s creation of AI-made sculptures was the result of a 3D DCGAN, which took inspiration from GAN trained on 32x32x32 voxelizations of Thingi10k–this is a collection of 10,000 3D printable objects and sculptures. The newly generated objects were always able to be 3D printed, but they were typically abstract.
Barrat began this project to generate architecture, but the lack of a dataset held back this project.
Neural Network Balenciaga
Another notable project of Barrat’s is when he used an array of Balenciaga runway shows, catalogues, and campaigns to train a Pix2PixHD network to reconstruct outfits from Densepose silhouettes. This resulted in novel outfits inspired by Balenciaga’s past years under Demna Gvasalia.
Why Robbie Barrat Loves AI
Barrat considers AI to be an artistic medium as well as a helpful technological tool. His interest in AI comes from how the machine can misinterpret training materials—something widely evident across his works.