In one of the coolest stories to come across our desk in a minute, BMW presents "The Ultimate AI Masterpiece,” a unique exploration of art and technology that uses artificial intelligence to generate entirely new works.

“The Ultimate AI Masterpiece” virtual art installation was created in partnership with creative technologist Nathan Shipley of Goodby  Silverstein & Partners, and Gary Yeh, founder of ArtDrunk.

The pair leveraged the NVIDIA StyleGAN artificial intelligence model to cross-reference over 50,000 images of artwork spanning 900 years of history, supplemented by a curated set of 50 works from renowned and emerging contemporary artists familiar to the BMW family. The AI then generalized what these paintings looked like and created new ones, using the car as the canvas. It's a radical new way of presenting art that speaks to the car giant's rich history of both culture and innovation.

"We’re using AI to generate art and project it onto the surface of BMW’s 8 Series Grand Coupe," said Shipley, before explaining how BMW has a rich history of working in the arts as well as innovation. The project, which you can check out on YouTube, will be presented at Frieze New York, with the pair selecting a handful of their favorite artists.

Keen to find out more, Highsnobiety caught up with Shipley and Yeh.

We had been seeing work that people were doing in 2018 and 2019 with generative AI. It was like, 'well, what if instead of just one painted car it was actually this evolving, animated thing? Could we put LEDs on the skin of the car? Or have a computer inside that's generating the art that goes on the surface of the car?' It turns out that's really expensive. So we started playing around with generative AI stuff and then began projecting onto the car. It's been in the works for almost two years now.

Nathan Shipley on how the project came to fruition
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BMW

I remember thinking about the ethics of AI. Specifically when speaking of automated vehicles. There's a team of engineers that program a car to go one way or another and in the case of an accident. So we pondered the ramifications of that. There's a lot of ethics questions around engineers determining the lives of so many people.

I think it applies similarly to this type of product when talking in an art and culture context. I guess diversity in the art world is a hot topic right now. If the only curators like me and Nathan are solely inputting Western artists into the algorithm, what does that mean for generations to come? That the AI is only creating Western-based work and does that sideline, you know, Asian or Eastern art history? Those are some of the questions that came up in terms of what this could mean.

Gary Yeh on the ethics of AI
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BMW

We selected some stills that are our favorite moments that are specific to artists that we really like. We also have some that are generated from all of the artists that Gary put together and then some that are based on the history of art. So I think there are seven or eight hero stills that we're showing. And then we've also got a video that describes the project.

Nathan Shipley on presenting the project at Frieze
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BMW

What is the art here? Because there's what the algorithm is generating, and then there are the choices made, and how that's mapped to the car, and the way [in which] that art transforms on the surface of the car, too. So it's got a few levels to it.

Nathan Shipley on the art

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