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Comments from Ernest Edmonds, pioneer of AI in art

It is exciting to have the Art-AI Festival in Leicester this year and very appropriate to see the strong support from De Montfort University. DMU’s involvement goes back nearly 50 years, when it was Leicester Polytechnic.

(available on Amazon)

Two Invention of Problems events around 1970 showed art experiments and presented talks on the subject, including by one of the most important pioneers of AI in art, Edward Ihnatowicz. He returned later in the 70s for what was probably the first full conference on the subject, Human and Robot Behaviour. That was a meeting of scientific and artistic minds coming from such groups as Edinburgh’s AI Lab and the Royal College of Art.

A few years later another pioneer of Art and AI, the late Harold Cohen, spent some time at Leicester Polytechnic inspiring both staff and students. Today DMU’s Institute of Creative Technologies (IOCT) is a strong player in the Art-AI field with several members using AI in their art and music as a standard part of their practice.

(both available on Amazon)

Craig Vear is an internationally renowned composer whose music employs AI and I myself have employed AI in various aspects of my art for most of my career. The latest work of Fabrizio Poltronieri, a relatively recent recruit to IOCT, can be seen as part of the festival.

(Fabrizio Poltronieri’s installation for the Art-AI Festival,

located in Highcross Shopping Centre)


Ernest Edmonds

Professor of Computational Art

Institute of Creative Technologies

De Montfort University


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Welcome to the Art-AI Festival and site!

We are delighted to present our Festival Programme, and look forward to seeing you at one or more of our events over the course of two-weeks, many of which are FREE!  We look forward to a wide-ranging discussion on the role of AI in arts, or more generally in our everyday lives.

The inspiration for our programme has been the significant increase in media attention on AIs over the last few months.  We aim to bust a few myths and illustrate the scope of the technology as it stands today.  To do this, our programme comprises provocative installations that challenge you to think about the role of the AIs: Poltronieri’s #LoveApparatus poses the question, can an AI love you? and Yoldas’ Kitty AI shows you how an AI can go ‘bad’ and take over the world!  HumanMachine is an AI Improv performance by Mirowski’s alter ego, Albert, with AI robot A.L.ex – their performance illustrates the scope of the technology from which the audience will be invited to decide if the robot passes the Turing Test, which evaluates whether a machine can demonstrate human-like intelligence in words, thoughts and actions.

Throughout the Festival, artists and curators will present their overview of the challenges of working with AIs in different domains and its current application to the arts, such as Poltronieri (Institute of Creative Technologies, De Montfort), Elliott (independent curator and advisor to World Economic Forum on AI in creative industries), Roberts (Birmingham researcher-curator) and Ashton (curator). MIT Medialab’s Fuste presents Paper Cubes (for children 7-12yrs), a project supported by Google. Robot Maze (for children 3-7yrs) provides a drop-in opportunity for younger people to learn about the basics in a hands-on family-oriented workshop. A short film season tops and tails our programme including, among others, the original Ghost in the Shell, the iconic anime by Oshii that portrays man and machine as one, and AlphaGo, a docu-drama that illustrates the real potential of AIs today.

Do get in touch and give us your feedback (via any of the social media channels), or feel free to ask questions that we will try to answer on the Festival blog.

You can contact the lead organizer at –, @tgharwood or @ioct_dmu

on behalf of the Festival Team, we hope you enjoy the Festival!

Tracy Harwood, Institute of Creative Technologies, De Montfort University

Luba Elliott, independent

Chris Tyrer, Phoenix

Tina Barton, Highcross Shopping Centre

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