Always Wanted to Ask Salvador Dalí a Question? Now You Can Through the Magic of A.I.

The Dalí Museum has created an A.I. version of the Surrealist artist that can answer questions.

Salvador Dali in 1971. Photo: AFP via Getty Images.

In the runup to the 120th birthday of Surrealist icon Salvador Dalí on May 11, his namesake museum has launched a version of the artist that visitors can converse with, powered by artificial intelligence.

Created by creative ad agency Goodby Silverstein & Partners (GS&P) using the artist’s writings and audio recordings, the new project is powered by several machine learning models, including GPT-4 from OpenAI and Eleven V2 from ElevenLabs. The museum previously unveiled the project at the SXSW conference. 

Visitors to the museum, in St. Petersburg, Florida, pick up a version of the artist’s famed Lobster Telephone (1938) to pose questions to digital version of the artist. 

When Hank Hine, the museum’s director, asked, “What should a visitor to the Dalí Museum be sure to see?” the A.I. artist answered, “In the labyrinth of the imagination that unfurls within the Dalí Museum of St. Petersburg, one must seek the melting clocks in the Disintegration of the Persistence of Memory, where time drips like a dream refusing to be contained.”

Courtesy Salvador Dalí Museum.

The artist speaks in a promotional video: “For years, people have attempted to understand my work, trying to find meaning in the Surreal, to make sense of the dreams of a historic genius. But how can anyone possibly know what is inside the burning mind of Salvador Dalí? No! They simply cannot. They are mere mortal human beings. But now, I can tell you.”

We at Artnet News are not in St. Petersburg, but if we were, we have some questions in mind that we might ask the AI Dalí. For one: what’s up with the mustache? What do you think of tarot reader Pilar Abel Martinez’s claim to be descended from you? How do you react to recent denunciations of you based on your admiration of Hitler, your purported cruelty, and your enabling fakes on the market by signing blank pieces of paper? Who should play you in a movie based on your life?

The museum has worked with GS&P twice before. In 2019, the museum presented “Dalí Lives,” which similarly allowed visitors to interact with a digital Dalí. “Dalí was famous for his sense of his own eternal significance,” Hine said at the time. “It’s almost like, if had left instructions for us, this project would have been among them.” Another project last year drew on the Surrealists’ reliance on the unconscious as an engine of creativity: the museum collaborated with GS&P and OpenAI to create “Dream Tapestry,” in which visitors submitted a text description of a dream, which was used to create digital paintings.

“Dalí was fascinated by the latest tools and technologies of his era and continually explored various artistic mediums,” said Jeff Goodby, co-founder and co-chairman of GS&P. “‘Ask Dalí’ provides a delightful new way to interact with machine learning technology. Dalí’s poetic writings, in an imaginative style all his own, are the basis of the training, which provides dynamic and unpredictable answers to visitors’ questions.”

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