What is DARCI?
DARCI (Digitial ARtist Communicating Intention)
is a computer system designed to eventually produce original and meaningful images – to
be an artist. Much like a human artist, DARCI will develop her craft by observing and then
emulating existing work, and by experimenting on her own. These skills require the
development of an appreciation of art, something that itself requires training and
experience. DARCI experiences the world through images, and, much like humans, she receives
training through interactions with other people. Anyone can teach DARCI by describing a
particular image to DARCI. Through this interactive process, DARCI forms associations
between images and language. DARCI, still nascent, can currently only form associations
between the low-level features of an image and adjectives. However, even given these
limitations, DARCI has a significant capacity for understanding and expression. Given
enough training, DARCI is capable of convincingly describing images with adjectives.
Furthermore, she can assign quantitative values to the image-adjective associations.
For example, she can indicate how “abstract” she thinks an image is. These values act as
the core means by which she can evaluate, and thus appreciate, her own artifacts as well as
the works of others.
What is Fitness Function?
Fitness Function is an exhibit in which DARCI acts
as the sole juror by evaluating submissions using the aforementioned process. As a trial,
we ran a short-term exhibit at the Brigham Young University Harris Fine Arts Center, from
March 19-31, 2010.
The floor plan of the show consisted of one wall
for exhibiting accepted submissions (three parallel wires held clips to which accepted
artwork was attached.) On the opposite wall vinyl lettering announced the show, gave the
show’s statement and provided directions on how to submit artwork to the show. Beside the
directions, DARCI (a computer) and a printer sat waiting for submissions. Each participant
could submit as many images as they wanted, with each image limited to 4MB in size. The
participant would upload the image, label the image with their name, title, and email
address and then submit the image to DARCI for evaluation. Each image received a score that
was in the range 0 – 100. Images that scored 70 or higher were admitted into the show and
the accepted image was automatically printed on the color laser printer on standard
(8.5” x 11”) paper. The participants were thus able to immediately hang their work on the
wires with the provided clips.
How were submissions judged?
DARCI used two evaluation criteria for this show.
The first involved DARCI being trained (exclusively by studio art students) to learn
various adjective descriptions of visual art. We then selected a specific adjective that
DARCI had learned, and DARCI had to decide how well each image fit that adjective. For the
show, the adjective was “surreal.” The second evaluation criterion was established with the
help of museum curators from the BYU Museum of Art. They provided DARCI with examples of
“good art” and “bad art” in order to teach her to determine what good art is. The final
fitness function combined these two criteria with equal weight, effectively evaluating
submissions for whether or not they represented “good surreal art.” The exhibit received
a total of 742 submitted images, of which 125 (16%) made it into the show by scoring at
least 70, and 11 (1.5%) received a jury award by scoring at least 90.