BMW today unveiled a virtual art installation that projects AI-generated artwork onto a virtual rendition of the automaker’s 8 Series Gran Coupe.
Dubbed “The Ultimate AI Masterpiece,” the installation harnessed NVIDIA StyleGAN — a generative model for high-resolution images — to create original artwork projection-mapped onto the virtual vehicle. The project debuts in conjunction with the contemporary art festival Frieze New York, and marks the 50th year of cultural engagement by the BMW Group.
“For 50 years, BMW has supported arts and culture through numerous initiatives as a way to engage and interact with consumers around the world in an authentic way,” said Uwe Dreher, vice president of marketing, BMW of North America. “As we continue these efforts into 2021, and look for new and creative ways to engage audiences, we shift to a virtual setting where we are combining centuries-old art and the latest AI technology to create something completely new and exciting.”
Collaborators Gary Yeh, founder of the art media company ArtDrunk, and Nathan Shipley, director of creative technology at Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, trained NVIDIA StyleGAN on 50,000 images of art across nine centuries as well as 50 contemporary works from artists BMW has worked with in past years. The trained model merges the learnings from classical art along with styles from the contemporary artists.
“AI is an emerging medium of creative expression. It’s a fascinating space where art meets algorithm,” said Shipley. “Combining the historical works with the curated modern works and projecting the evolving images onto the 8 Series Gran Coupe serves a direct nod to BMW’s history of uniting automobiles, art, and technology.”
The project uses the BMW car as a canvas to showcase each creator’s style — like that of South Korean charcoal artist Lee Bae.
“In this case the AI learned from Lee Bae’s work. In a way, it sees those textures,” Shipley said. “And then on its own the AI generates this evolving stream of new textures. They’re informed by his work, but they’re also unique.”