‘People don’t buy art, they buy artists’: Robot artists–work, identity,and expertise

Ashton, Daniel and Patel, Karen (2024) ‘People don’t buy art, they buy artists’: Robot artists–work, identity,and expertise. Convergence. ISSN 1354-8565

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This article critically examines the construction of the artistic identity and career of Ai-Da,‘theworld’sfirst ultra-realistic humanoid robot artist’. Engaging with scholarship on posthumanism andcreative assemblages, and creative work, identity and expertise, this article conceptualises Ai-Da’sdistinctive positioning and focuses on the practices used to construct a creative worker identity andcareer. The article uses qualitative content analysis to examine journalistic coverage, promotionaland presentation activities, exhibitions and performances, and social media postings over a four-year period from Ai-Da’sfirst launch to international visibility. The analysis shows how Ai-Da ispositioned as a high-profile, border crossing artist, engaging in debates about Artificial Intelligence(AI), art, and the environment. It considers the creative assemblage of Ai-Da as a humanoid robotartist, the creator Aidan Meller and the team working with him, and the wider contextual factors ofaesthetic expertise, networks and knowledge of art worlds which have shaped Ai-Da’s artisticidentity and career trajectory. The focus on how Ai-Da signals expertise on social media helps toframe the specific techniques used to speak about and for Ai-Da on social media platforms andwider media coverage. This includes articulating inspiration, showcasing artistic processes andcultivating audience relationships. In concluding, the implications of connecting critical perspectiveson creative work with developments in art, AI and robot artists are explored:firstly, for un-derstanding how the practices for constructing an artistic identity shape the development of robotartists; secondly, for understanding how developments in art and AI can frame reflections on artisticidentity and careers

Item Type: Article
Identification Number: https://doi.org/10.1177/13548565231220310
14 October 2023Accepted
11 January 2024Published Online
Uncontrolled Keywords: Creative work, artistic identity, expertise, social media, artificial intelligence, posthumanism, robots,assemblages
Subjects: CAH24 - media, journalism and communications > CAH24-01 - media, journalism and communications > CAH24-01-05 - media studies
Divisions: Faculty of Arts, Design and Media > College of English and Media
Depositing User: Karen Patel
Date Deposited: 24 Jan 2024 10:54
Last Modified: 24 Jan 2024 10:54
URI: https://www.open-access.bcu.ac.uk/id/eprint/15158

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