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  • Writer's pictureBeyond the Canvas

The whispering kaleidoscopes of Maria Mavropoulou - MAST Foundation, Bologna

Today I have learnt something, it felt like a breakthrough. Without daring to wade into the AI-generated art controversy, today I found myself welcoming the contribution that this technology can make to both the artistic process and its output. Today I did not see interference or appropriation, nor did I see creativity being stifled or human talent being replaced. Today I walked away thinking AI is an opportunity rather than a threat.

The work of Maria Mavropoulou (Athens, 1989), one of this year's MAST Photography Grant on Industry and Work finalists, In Their own image, in the image of God, They created Them, makes use of text-to-image conversion software to give life to a mesmerising multiplicity of images, which the artist calls Technototems. Mavropoulou told the algorithm the subjects she wanted to work on (tools, machines, pipes, valves, etc.) and the tool returned a set of images that she then modified, rendering them symmetrical and specular, like stained glass kaleidoscopes in a cathedral. The result is an extraordinary wedding of the uber technological with the spiritual, greatly enhanced by a sound installation of a female voice that gently whispers some of the code used to generate the images.

The MAST Foundation's Photo Gallery sets out to showcase industrial photography, which in my mind is hard to do as often you're not working with the visually appealing in the traditional sense. This show is impeccably curated, no one is left wondering what the heck they are looking at and everyone leaves inspired and having learnt something.

Bravo Urs Stahel and everyone involved.

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