See Inside the World’s First A.I. Art Hackathon, Where Artists Trevor Jones and Hackatao Sparked a Human-Machine Alliance

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A.I. art may be sparking all manner of outrage for its incursion into a human-dominated domain, but not at the Non-Fungible Conference in Lisbon. Earlier in June, the Web3-focused symposium leaned into the buzzy medium, playing host to the world’s first-ever A.I. art hackathon, organized by NFT platform MakersPlace. 

And just what is an A.I. art hackathon? Quite simply, it was an event that saw digital artists generating work—live and on-the-spot—based on creative prompts. 

Over two days, BLΛC, DVK the artist, DigitalCoy, and Illustrata created art inspired by author Sasha Stiles’s poem, “Ars Autopoetica.” It was a process made more unexpected by fellow digital artists Trevor Jones and Hackatao who introduced spontaneous “mystery artifacts” throughout (one of which was Jones’s famed Bitcoin Angel).  

The fruits of these labors were released on MakersPlace as open and limited edition NFTs on June 7; a further drop of 1/1s launches on June 15. 

A scene from MakersPlace’s A.I. Art Hackathon at NFC Lisbon. Photo: MakersPlace.

In effect, the hackathon was an occasion for creative collaborations, said Kayvan Ghaffari, head of legal at MakersPlace. 

“The artists were collaborating, not in competition with one another, but in aiding one another,” he told Artnet News. “At the table, they were looking at each other’s screens, they were asking each other for recommendations or advice.”

As an event that heralds the launch of MakersPlace’s “A.I. Generative Art” marketplace category, the hackathon was of course as much a plug for the emerging genre as it was a bid to demystify it and expand its bounds. That entailed making transparent in real time the myriad creative processes that go into producing an A.I. work.

Case in point: the works created by the above four artists went far beyond the digital medium. They were swiftly printed by robotics company Artmatr, with the resulting canvases chopped and collaged by digital artist Coldie into a single physical artwork. That piece, signed by all the participating creators, will be raffled off to holders of all eight limited-edition NFTs, created by the four artists alongside Jones and Hackatao, on June 23.

This was the wildest thing I’ve ever been a part of doing performance art at @NFCsummit w @makersplace @artmatrco https://t.co/CwajFF91Hj

— Coldie (@Coldie) June 11, 2023

The collaboration happening at the hackathon, then, occurs not just among artists, but also between humans and machines—an exercise that Ghaffari sees as injecting a “soul” into computer-generated works.  

“We have four humans using technology to create art. What if we also had another technology to create a more human form of art?” he explained. “A lot of people will say a painting is art, because they assume that it’s created by a human. Well, what if it wasn’t?”  

Below, see more images of the event and the artworks it produced. 

MakersPlace’s A.I. Art Hackathon at NFC Lisbon. Photo: MakersPlace.

DigitalCoy and Trevor Jones, (2023). Courtesy of MakersPlace.

BLΛC and Trevor Jones, (2023). Courtesy of MakersPlace.

Trevor Jones, DigitalCoy, and Illustra at MakersPlace’s A.I. Art Hackathon at NFC Lisbon. Photo: MakersPlace.

Illustrata.ai and Hackatao, (2023). Courtesy of MakersPlace.

Illustra and Trevor Jones, Artistic Echoes (2023). Courtesy of MakersPlace.

Coldie with the final collaged painting. Photo: MakersPlace.

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