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Salvador Dali

Salvador Dalí Lives


A simulation made with artificial intelligence brings to life the eccentric Spanish genius in an experience as bizarre as it is fascinating.

“Dalí is immortal and will never die,” the surrealist painter once promised. It’s curious that he phrased it thus, as if he were speaking of someone else, or of a concept. In addition to having been one of history’s first superstar artists (at least in the age of television), he also had the vision to construct a character as mysterious as it was eccentric, and to exploit that character to its fullest. That idea, that “Dalí,” may certainly have been suspected of being immortal.

A speaker of an especially original language, the Catalan painter was deeply touched by psychoanalysis: sex, fixations, and death populate his art as they do the art of few others. Now, 30 years after his death, Dalí is alive in a museum in Saint Petersburg, Florida. The Salvador Dalí Museum announced that this April its headquarters will host the great object of its inspiration. A video experience, Dalí Lives will be projected into all the galleries of the museum.

The project involved a search through hundreds of Dalí’s interviews, quotations, and video footage. From these, the agency GS&P developed an artificial intelligence algorithm to “memorize” aspects of Dalí’s face. They found an actor of similar physical characteristics, and from these two elements, the program generated a version identical to Dalí to match the face and the expressions of the actor. Finally, the museum used texts written by Dalí —combined with phrases spoken in the present day— and then had them re-interpreted by this strange phantom.

The results are impressive, very nearly disturbing, and remind us that technology, specifically artificial intelligence, is capable of what might have only been dreamt but a short time ago. With a disquieting improbable quality, the artificial Dalí reminds us that despite his physical death, the painter’s enormous influence hasn’t died and probably never will.


Image: Carl Van Vechten – Library of Congress

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