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The Imitation Game surveys the extraordinary uses (and abuses) of artificial intelligence (AI) in the production of contemporary visual culture. The exhibition follows a chronological narrative that first examines the development of artificial intelligence from the 1950s to the present. Building on this foundation, it then emphasizes the explosive growth of AI over the past decade across creative disciplines—including animation, architecture, art, fashion, graphic design, urban design and video games.

From the early moments of its creation, AI has captured the imaginations of cultural producers around the world. The idea that machines could think and express themselves independently of their human makers has been received with great skepticism, some joy, and a healthy dose of anxiety. 

Unsurprisingly, much of the early research on AI engaged with human-centred ideas of imitation and emulation. Most notably, in 1950, Alan Turing formulated an “imitation game” for testing a machine’s capacity to display intelligent behaviour in a manner that would be indistinguishable from natural human behaviour. Around the same time, researchers began to explore the possibility of an artificial neural network modelled directly on the human brain.

These early investigations set frameworks for much of the invention that followed in the 20th century. In the past decade, huge advances in the design and production of computing hardware have laid the groundwork for an unprecedented growth of AI as a fundamental tool with wide creative applications. 

The exhibition begins with an interactive introduction inviting visitors to identify diverse areas of cultural production influenced by AI. Twenty “objects of wonder” have been selected to offer a chronological history of AI and visual culture. And two special projects by artists Sougwen Chung and Scott Eaton offer compelling insights into the collaborative and creative powers of AI.

This exhibition is organized by the Vancouver Art Gallery and curated by Bruce Grenville, Senior Curator and Glenn Entis, Guest Curator

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Generously supported by:
Jane Irwin and Ross Hill
The Poseley Family
Rick Erickson and Donna Partridge

Supporting Sponsor:

AI Youth Programs Sponsor:

Additional support from:
The S.M. Blair Family Foundation
Traction on Demand

Mary Chapman, Public Humanities Hub, University of British Columbia
Wilkins Chung, Manifold.xyz
Adam Finkelstein, Princeton University
Andrew Glassner, WETA
Aaron Hertzmann, Adobe Research
Henry LaBounta
Terrence Masson, School of Visual Arts New York
Jaspreet Oberoi, 1QBit Inc.
David Salesin, Google Research
Ben Shneiderman, University of Maryland & University of British Columbia