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This Spring, Dalí Museum Visitors Will Be Welcomed by AI Version of the Artist Himself

A surreal(ist) encounter, indeed

The majority of the AI's language draws on real quotes from the artist, but the resurrected Dali will also comment on current events (Courtesy of the Dali Museum)
smithsonian.com

In a move that would have appealed to its namesake’s flair for larger-than-life dramatics, the Salvador Dalí Museum is presenting an interactive iteration of the mustachioed modern art master himself this spring.

With just a click of a button, Taylor Dafoe writes for artnet News, the Surrealist artist will materialize on giant screens set up throughout the St. Petersburg, Florida, institution, ready to offer insights on his creative process and, most curiously, current events that the real Dalí has missed out on in the decades since his death in 1989.

Called “Dalí Lives,” the venture—which will debut in April—draws on archival footage, photographs and interviews, as well as new footage featuring a Dalí lookalike.

According to a press release, the Dalí Museum partnered with creative advertising agency Goodby Silverstein & Partners (GS&P) to produce the AI experience. It marks the third collaboration between the museum and GS&P. In 2014, Stuart Elliott reports for The New York Times, the gallery hosted an exhibition featuring a photo kiosks where visitors could take a selfie. These images were stitched together to create a pixelated digital reproduction of a 1976 painting by the Surrealist, which wthen projected onto the wall beside Dalí’s original portrait.

Interestingly, Susana Martinez-Conde notes for Scientific American, the canvas, a dream-like portrait of the artist’s wife titled “Gala Contemplating the Mediterranean Sea which at Twenty Meters Becomes the Portrait of Abraham Lincoln-Homage to Rothko (Second Version),” was itself painted after Dalí read a Scientific American article on face perception.

A second partnering in 2016 resulted in “Dreams of Dalí,” a virtual reality experience that brought visitors inside of the artist’s 1934 work, “Archaeological Reminiscence of Millet’s ‘Angelus.’”

This time around, the museum drew on hundreds of archival sources to teach an algorithm the artist’s mannerisms and appearance. Next, the team recruited an actor to deliver various monologues, most of which draw on quotes attributed to Dalí himself but also feature an array of what the statement describes as “dynamic present-day messages.”

Three promotional videos released in conjunction with the museum’s announcement offer an enticing sneak peek of how that might translate on screen.

In the longest of the three clips, the virtual reality Dalí meditates on the artist's real philosophy on death, which he saw as a natural, and therefore welcome, result of life—at least when it came to others. When pondering his own mortality, however, Dalí declared his death a distant near-impossibility.

“I understand that better now,” the Dalí approximation declares, pausing a moment to let those words sink in before teasing, conspiratorially: “[Still,] I do not believe in my death. Do you?”

Hank Hine, executive director of the Dalí Museum, tells artnet News’ Dafoe that they let the artist's own ideas guide the project. “Dalí was famous for his sense of his own eternal significance. It’s almost like, if had left instructions for us, this project would have been among them,” he says.

As Dalí himself once proclaimed, “If someday I may die, although it is unlikely, I hope that the people in the cafes will say, ‘Dalí has died, but not entirely.’”

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