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From Christie’s to the Sorbonne, a clear journey through art and science

In this exclusive interview we have the pleasure of delving into the fascinating world of Obvious, a group of artists at the intersection of art and science. Through the words of Gauthier Vernier, co-founder of Obvious, discover the compelling story of their origins, historic achievements and bold vision of the future, where art and technology come together to push the boundaries of creativity.

To kick off this interview, can you briefly introduce the genesis of Obvious and your background, especially for our readers who may not know you yet?

Gautier Vernier, co-founder of Obvious Group : The idea for Obvious emerged in 2017, when Hugo, an AI researcher, found a scientific paper describing Generative Adversarial Networks (GANs) and shared this discovery with Pierre and me while we shared an apartment. Discovered in 2014, these algorithms are little known and even less used. However, their capabilities fascinate us and their work raises questions. We then decide to create works of art using these algorithms, to ask as many people these questions as possible.

One of the works from our first series quickly came to the fore: Edmund de Bellamy. It sold at auction at Christie’s New York in 2018 for $435,000. Since then, we have been working on creating art using artificial intelligence algorithms. Our series questions humanity’s complex relationship with technology, fueled by both fear and hope of what seems to escape control.

Our collection addresses this topic through series that can be physical or digital (Obvious is also the first French artist to create NFTs), guided by the prevailing belief that science and art are two concepts that feed each other, and that the technological revolution experience the call for an artistic renaissance.

The past year has been an eventful one for Obvious, between your integration into the Danysz Gallery, the Canal+ documentary (produced by MĂ©diawan) chronicling your extraordinary journey, and your scientific research partnership with the Sorbonne University in Paris. Can you tell us the most remarkable moments from these experiences?

Gautier Vernier : Last year was really a turning point for us. first and foremost Documentary on Canal+ By revisiting our early years as artists, we were able to create a retrospective of our first five years. This documentary allowed us to appreciate and share the time we spent together, the path we took, including our series, our participation in the exhibition and our collaborations with brands and institutions such as Alpine, Lapierre or even the Paris Opera. , our work has been shown in the largest museums in the world and all the wonderful encounters we have had along the way.

This year we also saw the realization of our vision of a new model, a unique entity dedicated to academic research and artistic creation. This entity benefits from the support of the Sorbonne University and the National Research Agency for the scientific aspect, and from Obvious’s reputation in the art world. It embodies the synergy between art and science, a virtuous circle that we want to develop, and that allows us to develop new scientific methods related to our artistic needs, whether these are inherent to Obvious or whether brands have enabled them for collaboration, and to share our scientific discoveries with more people through art. .

Can you tell us more about your current scientific project, from its inception to its current state of development, and about your collaboration with your partners?

Gautier Vernier The first axis we wanted to explore with this new model is the axle Think of imagesOr algorithms that can reconstruct images from brain data. These pieces are driven by our quest as artists to express our purest thoughts and deepest souls. We were therefore interested in algorithms capable of reconstructing images directly from the mind’s perceptions. Therefore, we started a series of experiments with image visualization in MRI. This approach has resulted in a scientific discovery of the process of creating images that represent our thoughts.

Clear, think of the photo of 2024Clear, think of the photo of 2024
Clear, think of the photo of 2024

What are the next steps planned for this project? Can you tell us more about its economic model?

Gautier Vernier : To activate our symbiotic vision of art and science, this project has ramifications in the research world, but also in the art world. We first published a scientific paper in collaboration with Charles Millerio, MD, a neurologist at the ICM, Institute for Brain Research, that detailed the approach we tried. This open source article aims to advance science.

In addition, we are developing a series of physical and digital works to present this concept in an artistic way.
This series will be on display at the Danish exhibition in October 2024 and was chosen by the Center Pompidou as part of a trip jointly organized by the Professional Committee of Art Exhibitions and the André Breton Society to accompany the major exhibition. outside the walls celebrating the centenary of Surrealism in the autumn at the Center Pompidou.
The idea is that collectors, by purchasing works, finance the activities of artists, which for us are no longer limited to conceptual and visual creativity, but also to scientific research and the sharing of new creative tools. In fact, all our research developments are shared as open source.

Where do you, as a trio of visionaries, see clarity in 5 years? What challenges do you face in achieving this vision? Which brands, companies, institutions or laboratories do you dream of working with?

Gautier Vernier : Given the development we have seen in the past five years, it is very difficult to predict what will happen in the next five years. However, we have a clear vision: to bring the synergy between art and science to a climax. We do not believe that we have invented anything, and this view was very present in the Renaissance. Therefore, we can hope to develop in the manner of the Renaissance workshop, a physical place where researchers and artists meet and put their talents at the service of ambitious projects, both artistic and technical. Just as these workshops had sponsors, we would like to work with companies to discover new horizons and take on new challenges. Our interest lies in ambitious initiatives and we dream of collaborating with those who represent excellence both in science (OpenAI, Large Hadron Collider, Deepmind, Neuralink, Project CETI, Arctic Code Vault), and in of art (MoMA, Le Louvre, Vasarely Fondation, Museum Leeum) and culture. (The Sphere, Balenciaga, Arctery’x, Salomon, Nike, Lacoste, Paris SG).

We are also open to collaborating with other artists on projects that allow for the sharing of skills and visions. Naturally, we want to continue to bring our creativity to the general public through museums.

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