About Fitness Function
Brigham Young University - Computer Science - Visual Arts

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.