On 29 September, The National Gallery of the Faroe Islands, in the capital, Tórshavn, will open the ‘Imagine The Faroe Islands’ exhibition. It will be the first time a National Gallery has featured images created solely by artificial intelligence on its walls.

The technology at the heart of the exhibition, in the form of Midjourney’s brand-new AI platform, posed a simple question: “What if the greatest artists ever living had painted the Faroe Islands…?”

Due to the islands’ extremely remote location, 200 miles north of Scotland, to the west of Norway and to the east of Iceland, most of the greatest artists throughout the ages never had the opportunity to visit the Faroes for themselves. If they had, it would undoubtedly have inspired their works considerably.

However, artificial intelligence can now, for the first time, give us an idea of how the greatest artists over the past century or more might have painted the Faroe Islands.

By analysing many billions of brush strokes across a huge range of paintings and pictures, a computer can learn to understand shapes, techniques, colours, moods and objects – and also the personal style adopted by some of the greatest artists. A computer can, therefore, be asked to create new pictures of the Faroe Islands just as individual artists might have done, in those artists’ own, very recognisable, style.

Karina Lykke Grand, Director of the National Gallery of the Faroe Islands, said, “When I first heard of AI and MidJourney, and how it was possible to create new pictures just as individual artists might themselves have done, I was immediately intrigued. It was fascinating to see how, by giving prompts to the system, you can gain an idea about how, perhaps, Van Gogh or Picasso, having seen the Faroes for themselves, might have recreated the islands on canvas in their own style.

“Normally, our exhibitions feature very talented local Faroese artists. But we think that these new possibilities have led to an interesting crossover between technology and art that we wanted to explore and which our guests can take part in whether they are artists or not.

Our exhibition will attract the attention of many people who perhaps wouldn’t normally head to an Art Gallery. I think we’ll see a mix of science and technology experts, artists who can’t quite believe what can be created by a machine, and many people who find the concept exciting and wish to see it in action – and perhaps to try it for themselves.”

“We warmly invite all to visit this technological exhibition to try the Midjourney software for themselves – see the short explanatory film here: https://vimeo.com/752870177/f6bb9f20cc. It is simply fascinating to see what such immense computing power can create.”

The exhibition, titled ‘Imagine The Faroe Islands’, will feature images inspired by some of the world’s greatest artists, will open on Thursday, 29 September 2022, at 1600 hours and runs until 30 October 2022.

It raises interesting questions about what art is, what computers may do in the future, and how the greats of the art world over the centuries might have represented the Faroe Islands had they been able to travel to see the archipelago for themselves.

In addition to the exciting Artificial Intelligence pictures, the art museum also has a beautiful collection of art by the greatest Faroese artists. In an art-historical sense, Faroese visual art did not develop much before the early part of the 20th century. Despite the size of the country – just 54,000 inhabitants – and the fact that Faroese art history is comparatively young, the quality of Faroese art is remarkably high.

Faroese visual art has rarely been as widely expressed as it is today. In the work of the younger generation of Faroese artists, the traditional interest in the Faroese landscape as subject matter seems to have declined, while interest in the human mind, existential or philosophical questions, or internal-facing landscapes, seems to have increased.

The islands contain many gifted artists, some of whom are represented on the National Gallery of the Faroe Islands’ homepage, which can be reached at www.art.fo.

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