The announcement that the 10th edition of Bucharest Biennial in 2022 will be curated by a robot named robot named Jarvis received mix reactions from the art world. The evolution of AI has made possible for many industries to be more efficient in productions as machines are deemed to be more reliable when error is minimal to nill and can work much longer hours. Machines taking over some human jobs were expected. Today these innovations are no longer bound in factories but often found in the frontlines of service industries such as hospitality, F&B, medical and others. However it is rather difficult to comprehend how AI can take over an art curator’s job especially when this job demands multiple disciplines and compounded unique tasks.
According to IESA Arts & Culture, the job responsibilities of an art curator consists of the following,
- Acquiring, collecting and cataloging works of art
- Researching, writing articles and giving lectures
- Negotiating the loans of items, organizing exhibitions, installing and writing documentation
And the skills and qualifications required are,
- General knowledge of art and in depth specialist expertise in art history
- Excellent relationship building skills to create partnership with art institutions, artists and collectors
- Event management skill for organizing exhibitions, working with all actors involved in the project
It is quite clear that a curator’s job is not a single directional job. According to Spinnwerk founder Razvan Ion when talking to The Art Newspaper, Jarvis will be trained for two years curatorship training program “using materials from the world’s renowned MA’s of curating and contemporary art history from most respected universities” and then “ … select several participants/artists/creators for the biennial based on his knowledge”. If being a curator only needs to be like Jarvis, then any person good in data collection and analysis can apply to be a curator. Universities around the world must as well remove the art curatorial programs.
The skills, knowledge and experience needed to be involved in the art world are not just data collection and analysis. Before, a good scanner and printer could produce a piece of Picasso. Today, a robot with the right program can paint one a Picasso but still it is a programmed imitation piece. On the other hand, producing a robot to replace a curator is not possible at least for the next few years. The derivatives demanded especially from the human factors are almost impossible unless the robot is fitted with a human mind like Robocop.
The announcement of Jarvis was undoubtedly influenced by the Covid-19 pandemic that has crippled the world. The art industry included had not been spared and this crisis pushed the arts and culture further into the digital and virtual world. The art world needs some fresh ideas fast to bring back the confidence of those supporting art in this new normal to survive. Whoever or whichever that come up with new concepts or innovations is definitely going to capture the market’s attention and lead the pack. Jarvis may not be the ideal curator but definitely one that falls into the art of marketing and branding.
根据巴黎高等艺术与文化学院(IESA Arts & Culture)的说法，
Image(s) courtesy of thestar.com.my