Charismatic Megapigment

In this installation, a green painting by Charley Peters is analysed in detail by a robotic camera and screen roaming across its surface, built by Tobias Revell.  This camera feeds a machine learning system, built by myself, which is trained on a hand-built database of 100,000 images that have been classified as ‘green’ by Google’s own machine vision technologies. These images frequently show the political and industrial exploitation of sustainability, ‘eco’ and ‘wellbeing’ narratives that are evident alongside images of climate protest and satellite evidence of deforestation that are revealed when such a vast examination of the online presence of the colour green is made.

As the camera moves continuously across the painting, every intimate view it captures is compared to the database and the nearest matching image is displayed on the screen. Through this, the system is both focused upon the formal qualities of the non-objective painting, and engaged in an endless conceptual search for the current political and social ‘meaning’ within abstraction and the colour green itself.

Rather than perpetuating the ‘AI as author’ myth, Charismatic Megapigment highlights the political nature of exploring the contemporary form and meaning of the colour green, while presenting AI as a new arena for exploring both formalist and conceptual art practice – in a work that is itself a collaboration between a formalist painter and two conceptually-driven critical digital practitioners.