Artificial Intelligence is increasingly widespread and its use divides opinion. In the artistic field in particular, the use of this medium is often contested, accused of supplanting creativity and imagination. But there is one artist who is attempting to free AI from this relegation and to make critical sense of its use. His name is Matteo Urbani (on Instagram @nurabi_lab) and his research in this field is aimed all the more at understanding how AI works rather than stopping at the illustrative aspect – which builds the most mainstream part of its use – with the aim of objectifying, thus making visible, the digital data hidden within a system, otherwise unexpressed. In a broader sense, Urbani’s research reasons on the encounter and collision between the anthropic and natural worlds, on alterations and the consequent creation of complex hybrid ecosystems. In this vein, it is evident how the approach to AI was almost automatic and functional for his investigation. AI thus becomes a direct and active co-creator of a shared imaginary, generated by the same collision between man-artist and artifice-computer tool.
Matteo Urbani therefore tends towards the stimulation of AI by searching for those hidden data that would otherwise not be expressed and would remain in computer limbo. This is where the artist’s creativity and reflection come in, capable of processing existing but intangible information with a personal interpretative key. In this sense, the Quantum series is exemplary, through which the artist carries out an iconographic research that echoes his own installation research. Urbani generates hybrid ecosystems in which nature – here represented by the animal component, such as fish and cows, but also vegetable in the case of flowers – is incorporated by technology and digital progress. The result is a gloomy imagery with an apocalyptic flavour that stimulates reflection and makes explicit the need to become aware of digital functioning, rather than looking at the end result. The artist himself declares: “All the discussion that revolves around the use of AI as a creative tool must not end up as an obstacle to the diffusion of the medium itself, which in any case is irreversible, but on the contrary can also be part of a critical process that leads us, as artists, to reflect on the mechanisms that govern it and, why not, to speculate on the possible applications, even exasperating the outputs.”