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Anne Spalter

The Arts

BMAC presents online talks on spaceships, artificial intelligence, and NFT

BRATTLEBORO—The Brattleboro Museum & Art Center (BMAC) will present two free online talks in connection with the NFT art exhibit “Anne Spalter: The Wonder of It All,” which features AI-generated digital videos of fantastical, morphing spaceships. Register at brattleboromuseum.org.

“Spaceships and Art: A Match Made in the Imagination” is a Zoom presentation by Ron Miller on the history of spaceships in art, on Thursday, April 28, at 7 p.m.

The author of Spaceships: An Illustrated History of the Real and the Imagined, Miller will discuss how the idea of traveling into space and to other worlds was visualized by artists decades before the reality of space flight, how the development of rocketry and spacecraft influenced artists, and how the arts have sometimes influenced the scientists and engineers behind space travel.

“Pay No Attention to the Artist Behind the Curtain: A Behind-the-Scenes Look at Artificial Intelligence and NFTs” is a talk by digital mixed-media artist Anne Spalter and programmer Todd Dailey, on Monday, May 2, at 7 p.m. via Zoom.

“The Wonder of It All” is BMAC’s first-ever exhibition of NFTs, or non-fungible tokens, a medium that has exploded in popularity in the past two years.

“An NFT is a cryptocurrency token with associated information that can include connections to art images as well as artist and collector information,” Spalter said in a news release. “Although digital art is not new, and neither are the ideas of certificates of authenticity or online commerce, in NFTs these forces have merged into a powerful juggernaut.”

Dailey created a custom AI pipeline that Spalter used to create the NFTs on view in “The Wonder of It All.” A text-to-image process allowed Spalter to type in a phrase and receive a picture in return.

“NFTs have disrupted the landscape for artists, collectors, and consumers in an unprecedented manner,” Spalter said. “The shift away from AI art being considered ‘digital art’ to simply ‘art’ just like any other piece in a museum is historic.

“By far the most invigorating plane of this new frontier is its widespread accessibility for makers and buyers alike. Todd and I look forward to furthering that by walking those at any level of tech savvy (including none at all!) through the processes used in ‘The Wonder of It All.’”

Spalter is a digital mixed-media artist who founded the original digital fine arts courses at Brown University and The Rhode Island School of Design in the 1990s and authored the internationally taught textbook The Computer in the Visual Arts.

Spalter’s work is in the permanent collections of the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, the Rhode Island School of Design Museum, and The Museum of CryptoArt.

Dailey is a tech worker in the San Francisco Bay Area. Outside of work, he pursues a lot of self-described “nerdy” passions, including programming in Python, tinkering with Raspberry Pi, creating 3D prints, and drawing on a plotter. Over the quarantine period, he connected with Spalter and discovered the world of machine learning and NFTs.

“Anne Spalter: The Wonder of It All” is on view at BMAC through Sunday, June 12.

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Originally published in The Commons issue #661 (Wednesday, April 27, 2022). This story appeared on page B1.

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