On any given day in a lab in New Jersey, a humming machine traces the lines of a hand-drawn image: a woman’s face drawn by Matisse. The machine highlights each new line it sees, recording and cataloging its thickness, shape, and the artist it was created by.
But the computer isn’t merely scanning the image, it’s learning. The Art and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory at Rutgers University is currently teaching the machine to appreciate and understand art, and the subtle differences within a painting or drawing.
“The A.I. will be able to tell a Van Gogh versus a Matisse, for example, based on the visual elements that are somehow unconscious to the artist,” explains Ahmed Elgammal, Professor and Director of the lab.
Scientists have been exploring artificial intelligence in relation to art for years, and while artificial intelligence systems can now make paintings of their own dreams, humans still have the only brains capable of appreciating them. This is where the Art and Artificial Intelligence lab comes in. Computer scientists there hope to bring artificial minds closer to mimicking human intelligence, and their work may also help solve a problem that has plagued the art world for hundreds of years: art forgeries.