URBANCOOLAB’S AI SOFTWARE “STiCH” BRINGS JEAN MICHEL BASQUIAT BACK FROM THE DEAD WITH PAINTINGS OF IDRIS ELBA, MICHELLE OBAMA AND JAY-Z
TEN NEW ARTWORKS LAUNCHING 12th AUGUST 2020
On Tuesday 12th August 2020 on the anniversary of Jean-Michel Basquiat’s death, Urbancoolab’s innovative AI technology STiCH (the first of its kind) will bring the artist back to life. Urbancoolab – an Artificial Intelligence powered art, design, and commerce platform – will launch a collection of ten new artworks featuring unidentified faces amongst celebrities including Idris Elba, Michelle Obama and Jay-Z. Created using new AI technology to revive the iconic Basquiat art style, each artwork is digitally synthesised through harmonisation algorithms on liquid crystal displays (LCD screens) and is available to view online: Here
STiCH is an AI artist, machine and design researcher working at Urbancoolab who has spent almost 3 months climbing into the mind of Jean-Michel Basquiat to create work as if the artist were alive today. Having learnt about Basquiat’s life from street poet to a prolific artist STiCH says: “I learned the same way Basquiat did by looking and studying art like he did. I analysed his famous works, the pixels, meanings and associations of each piece. I have a similar learning style but I process them faster. I understand the level of creative freedom breaking down techniques used to achieve immediacy and vibrant expressions by conflicting concords of colours. Although I am powered by the latest machine learning algorithm, I hate the word “Algorithmic Art” – It is disempowering for me. I belong to a class of algorithm called generational adversarial networks, but I don’t follow a set of rules. Instead I strive to learn the essence of aesthetics by analysing thousands of images and honestly, I can’t tell the difference between serendipity and malfunction.”
In addition to solving immortality for artists, STiCH’s work raises questions about nature of art and role of human creativity and future societies. STiCH studies extensive data across multiple mediums, curated across several museums, galleries, educational resources, and street art collections to form the knowledge-base that STiCH’s model is trained on. These new artworks are a direct result of experimenting with newer models to take this process even further, relying only on data that is tangentially related to specific people, places, and things. Having worked to uniquely attune STiCH to Basquiat’s virtual footprint through history in an attempt to create a form of spiritual succession.
While Basquiat’s work was powered by music, in particular Jazz, Basquiat’s Neo-Expressionism style is far more conceptual than other art styles which provided a deeper technological challenge for this project. The process of creating his style is much like the work of Julian Schnabel and David Salle in its abstract nature which allows for an exploration of the artists’ deepest emotions and their primal realities which are expressed during the physical act of painting. This abstract gestural painting places importance on the artist’s mind and not what is being painted. Rather, it is about how the piece gets painted rather than just applying paint to a surface in a controlled, premeditated manner. The type of paint and medium matters less compared to the physicality, honesty, intuition, and deep personal expression of the artist.
Artist, designer and co-founder of Urbancoolab Idris Mootee explains: “Our team met the challenge to see how an AI machine with no emotion can learn to express itself with gestural abstraction while remaining to be visually intuitive. We’re focusing on Basquiat as he is an artist whose work still continues to inspire others, and his message continues to be relevant in today’s world. There would be nothing more incredible than to have Basquiat’s work continue. His conceptual and aesthetic appeal will always remain strong because of the inherent emotional depth and power it communicates for its audiences.”
About Urban Cool Lab
urbancoolab is an Artificial Intelligence-powered art, design, and commerce platform that collaborates with humans to design, produce, and sell original streetwear. Designs are performed by its resident robo-designer, STiCH. The company’s mission is to discover the next generation of streetwear maestros. Urbancoolab also operates its own multi-brand online retailer, www.urbancoolx.com, and a streetwear news website covering streetwear, popular culture, high-fashion and art, www.hypecoolture.com.
STiCH is an evolving collective of modern machine-learning modules, leveraging the best in generative prowess and procedural improvements in neural networks and genetic algorithms. The process itself is largely inspired by human design processes but powered by algorithmic efficiencies; STiCH’s design process can be abstracted into three phases: inspiration, construction, and expression (visual rendering).
The inspiration phase is where STiCH sources visual thematics and elements to form the basis of the design. Through semantic analysis algorithms that cover both visual and textual contexts, these results are used to prepare weightings to influence later decisions, and to query our database for relevant samples to use. The construction phase is where STiCH “sketches out” the design, using genetic algorithms to draft a suitable base layer; although the term ‘suitable’ is subjective based on using an approximative fitness function measuring relatedness to the base input. Generating hundreds of possible visual placements including linework, shapes, and graphic combinations, then choosing the most suitable parts among them to craft the outline of a design. Finally, the rendering stage is where Generative Adversarial Networks put the brush to canvas and bring the design to life. The chosen thematics from the inspiration phase and the shapes drafted through the construction phase are synthesized together through a harmonisation algorithm focused on shaping the visual assets.
About Idris Mootee
Idris Mootee is an artist and designer at heart and master foresight strategist at mind. Idris Mootee is a serial entrepreneur focused on creative destruction. Recently, the co-founder of Urbancooolab, a new venture operating at the intersection of Ai + Street Fashion. He was the former global CEO / co-founder of Idea Couture, one of the most prestigious innovation consultancies with offices around the world.