By Anesha George
When Rembrandt was 26, he created one of his first masterpieces, The Anatomy Lesson of Dr Nicolaes Tulp, an oil-on-canvas that showed medical professionals studying the human body, at a time (the 17th century) when medical science was still in a nascent stage.
In 2018, Bengaluru’s Harshit Agrawal, also 26, was inspired by Rembrandt’s painting to create something path-breaking of his own. He fed images of surgeries into a software algorithm and used artificial intelligence (AI) to create art based on the images. The result was abstract crimson canvases that could be interpreted as clouds, flowers or fibroids.
“While Rembrandt was addressing the power of medical science in his art I wanted to talk about the fascinating world of AI,” says the artist and human-computer interaction researcher. He first began tinkering with AI while studying at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 2015. This series of works titled The Anatomy Lesson of Dr Algorithm, and was showcased at Gradient Descent, a first-of-its-kind AI art exhibition held at Delhi’s Nature Morte gallery in August.