Stuttgart art museum takes visitors on timely tour with AI exhibit
Stars and Stripes February 16, 2023
The latest exhibit to hit one of Stuttgart’s biggest downtown art museums couldn’t be timelier.
In recent weeks, the public launch of artificial intelligence chatbot ChatGPT has taken much of the world by storm with its conversational ability and capacity to churn out everything from speeches to college term papers and presentations.
The technology has put its significance for how people work and live at the forefront. While nothing new — AI in some form dates back to the 1950s — it’s increasingly on the minds of many.
Enter the Kunstmuseum in Stuttgart and its newest exhibit “SHIFT, AI and a future community,” which imagines some of the implications of artificial intelligence for society.
The museum says the exhibit emphasizes the notion “that digital technology is permanently changing the idea of a community in which humans, nature and technology form a cooperative relationship.”
Much of it went over my head, but some of the art was fun to take in nonetheless. The exhibit takes up three floors and can be navigated in about one hour if you aren’t in a rush.
One of the highlights for me was a 3D short film based on the idea that legendary German actress Marlene Dietrich was brought back using the DNA of a strand of hair that was put up for auction.
The dialogue in the film relies on an AI program that produces text by mimicking normal human speech patterns.
The underlying aim of the film seems to be to get viewers to contemplate whether technical possibilities are in conflict with whatever it means to be truly human. Or something like that. Regardless, it was fun to look at.
Other eye-catchers include a robotic creation by artist Louisa Clement, who made a doll that resembles her. The machine is loaded with personal information about the artist, allowing it to impersonate the artist.
In all, there are about eight displays. All of them are somewhat weird. And a couple take on the obligatory fear of a dystopian future in which humans are on the sidelines.
“Amazonian flesh, how to hang in trees during a strike,” is a jungle-like contraption of cables that allows a visitor to sit around and do nothing. The idea, apparently a commentary on Amazon the company, seems to be that wage labor is on the way out while bots take over everything.
Housed inside the landmark glass cube building in the center of downtown, the museum has lots of other art on permanent display in addition to shorter-term special exhibits such as SHIFT, which runs until May 21.
If AI isn’t your thing, the museum is still worth dropping by for its permanent collection, which features lots of paintings by 20th century German painter Otto Dix, famous for creations focused on the gritty underbelly of street life.
Address: Kleiner Schlossplatz 1, Stuttgart, Germany
Hours: Tuesday-Sunday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; on Friday, the museum is open until 9 p.m.; closed Monday
Cost: 11 euros for the exhibit and the rest of the museum collection.