The University of Salford Art Collection to launch its first artificial intelligence inspired project

Categories: School of Science, Engineering and Environment

The University of Salford Art Collection has commissioned a new artwork that will use artificial intelligence (AI) to explore art, nature and technology.

The work is being created by Anna Ridler, a leading artist who will use AI to compare images of nature, pollution and man-made objects in our environment. To make this happen, the artist is asking for help and is crowd sourcing  photographs of both human-made and natural specimens that you find in your garden, on the street, or on a local walk, ideally in the Salford area or the northwest of England. 


Anna gave a popular talk at the University of Salford in March this year, but due to the lockdown, further visits and workshops to the University to gather images with students and local communities have been cancelled or postponed. This has prompted a change in direction of the work.


Anna said: "This project looks at the whole scope of working with technology as part of a creative practice, and particularly focuses on the human element that goes into shaping data. By asking people to look at their surroundings and choosing to gather examples, it hopes to offer an alternative way of collecting information: one that is based on participation and choice to create something”


Using the data received from the photographs submitted, Anna’s AI programme will then generate its own images, which will be exhibited as an artwork at the Salford Museum and Art Gallery in early 2021.


The work will build up a fascinating picture of our environment, exploring the state of our local areas post-lockdown, questioning if nature has thrived and if pollution has been reduced. The new artwork will enter the University’s permanent Art Collection, and you can even choose to submit your name with your photo, and have it credited in all future exhibitions. 


Stephanie Fletcher, Assistant Curator for the University of Salford Art Collection said: “Ridler’s project will capture an important experience of our changing environments during the Covid-19 pandemic. Perhaps you have been taking more local walks and noticing nature more closely, which is flourishing in areas due to drops in traffic pollution or trying to grow your own plants and vegetables in gardens or windowsills. However, now that restrictions are beginning to lift in areas, will our public spaces return to the same levels of littering and pollution?”


She continued: “Anna’s practice also importantly works to reveal the actual processes behind technology, rather than just speculating on fantastical future tech scenarios. This comes at an important time as we rapidly increase our use of technology on a daily basis, for both work and play. The work will not only be a challenging and valuable addition to the collection, but also the first AI based work that we’ve acquired”


The deadline for submissions is Friday, October 30 and the artwork is set to be completed by 2021. If you would like to find out more about the project and the photograph formats required, please contact salforddataset@gmail.com


To follow the story of the creation of this latest commission at The University of Salford Art Collection, search for #SalfordDataSet on social media or follow @uos_artcollection on Instagram and @UoSArts on Twitter. 

For all press office enquiries please email communications@salford.ac.uk.