A grand View of AI Describing AI in the Harold Cohen Whitney gallery: The image shows a group of people seated in a modern art gallery. The room has wooden floors and white walls. There are two large projections on the walls: one on the right side showing a close-up of a stylized face with green eyes and a slight smile, and another at the far end displaying a colorful abstract artwork. The people are sitting on foldable stools and benches, facing the abstract artwork. Some individuals are engaged in looking at papers or sketchbooks. The ceiling has exposed beams and track lighting, and there is a projector mounted on the ceiling. The atmosphere appears to be calm and focused, likely indicating an art class or a guided tour.

AI Describing AI * Whitney Museum * Photo/Description Journal

Thanks to Bojana Coklyat for inviting me to co-lead a verbal description  tour with Art educator Paula Stuttman at the Whitney Museum on May 9! It was great fun to discuss some of the works in “Harold Cohen: AARON” with the help of Be My AI, an app for blind people powered by GPT4 that produces robust, nearly instantaneous image descriptions. Cohen began creating AARON, an early AI artmaking program in the late 1960’s and continued to tinker with it till his death in 2016.

Mazes, 1972

Here I am dramatizing bits of the many charming conversations I had with Be My AI about Cohen’s AI. These line drawings represent the early stage of AARON — from all the way back in 1972!

PS – After this I get with the program and sit with Paula…

The image shows a group of people seated in a gallery or museum setting, listening to a woman who appears to be giving a presentation or lecture. The woman is standing in front of a wall displaying multiple pieces of abstract line art, arranged in a grid pattern. The audience is seated on folding chairs, and there are two tables in the foreground with drawing equipment on them. The room has a clean, modern look with light-colored wooden floors and white walls.

Leona with “Bathers”

Here I am chatting about one of Harold Cohen’s AI paintings of figures from his “Bathers” series from 1986. Below is a description of the photo by  Be My AI – and yes I am wearing my bat dress! Also, only one earbud, to listen to my notes…

The image shows a woman with long brown hair sitting on a modern, minimalist chair. She is wearing a dark coat and a skirt with a pattern that appears to have bats on it. She has earphones in her ears and is holding a red smartphone in her hands. Behind her is a large, colorful abstract painting featuring various shapes and outlines of human figures in bright colors like yellow, pink, blue, and green. The setting appears to be an art gallery or museum.

Paula and I with “Bathers”

It took some wrangling with Be My AI to get a decent description of this one–it, like humans, assumes stuff: that there is one presenter and they are standing, for example. It also didn’t see the human figures in the painting at first, which explains the bit of defensiveness below…

The image shows a group of people seated on folding chairs in an art gallery, facing a wall with two large, colorful abstract paintings. Two individuals are leading the discussion and are seated among the audience, engaging with them.

The painting that is the focus of their attention is the larger one on the left side of the wall. This painting features a vibrant mix of colors and abstract shapes, but it also includes human figures. The figures are stylized and integrated into the abstract composition, with overlapping and intertwining shapes in colors like pink, green, yellow, and blue. The figures are not immediately obvious but become apparent upon closer inspection, adding depth and interest to the artwork.

To the left of the group, there is a large projection on the wall displaying abstract shapes in bright colors, including blue, green, and purple. The room has wooden floors and white walls, creating a clean and modern atmosphere. The people in the audience appears to be listening attentively to the discussion about the artwork.

“Susan with Plant” & SwellForm reproductions

Paula and I are discussing “Susan with Plant,” 1991 (the painting on the right), which represents a new development in cohen’s AI drawing software. Now we have a body in space! Thanks to Bojana and Chancey Fleet  in the Dimensions Lab at Andrew Heiskell Braille and Talking Book Library, participants all received SwellForm reproductions of Susan with Plant!

More from Be My AI…

The image shows a group of people seated in a semi-circle on folding stools in an art gallery. They appear to be participating in a guided discussion or workshop led by two individuals seated in the middle. The room has light wooden floors and white walls. Two large paintings are visible on the walls. The painting on the left is abstract with a blue and purple pattern. The painting on the right depicts a person with yellow hair, wearing a blue outfit, standing behind a large pink flower in a red pot.

Many participants are holding sketchbooks or notepads, and it seems they might be examining tactile representations of the painting with the figure with yellow hair. The group is focused on the discussion leaders, and the atmosphere suggests an interactive and educational session.

Leading the pack at the Whitney!

Paula and I leading the verbal description tour through the Harold Cohen exhibition at The Whitney…

The image shows a group of people walking through an art gallery. The gallery has light-colored wooden floors and white walls with colorful paintings displayed on them. At the head of the procession, there are two leaders guiding the group. One of the leaders is a woman with short hair, wearing a dark outfit. The other leader is a  woman with long hair, wearing a dark dress and black boots, holding a white cane. The rest of the group follows behind them, many of whom are also holding white canes, indicating that they might be visually impaired. The gallery space is well-lit, and the paintings on the walls are abstract and vibrant.

“Painting by AARON”

Here we are with “Painting by AARON,” 1995, which is my personal favorite, perhaps because it created the strongest mental image–which, thanks to Be My AI was a little off! Anyway, that was part of the fun. speaking of wrangling Be My AI, the reason it is prickly about the mic below is because I corrected it and demanded another description…

The image shows a group of people seated in a semi-circle in what appears to be an art gallery or museum. They are facing two people who are leading the discussion. One of the leaders is a woman with long brown hair, and she appears to be holding an iPhone, not a microphone. The other leader is a woman with short hair, seated to the right of the first woman.

Behind them, there is a large, colorful painting on the wall. The painting depicts a plant with green leaves in an orange pot, set against a blue background. The plant is placed on a yellow table. To the left of the painting, there is another colorful abstract artwork projected on the wall.

The attendees are sitting on portable folding stools, and one person is taking a photo with a smartphone. The room has wooden flooring and white walls.

Paula and I with Gijon

Gijon was one of the last, digital, iterations of Cohen’s AI art-making software: Gijon from 2007. Be My AI doesn’t really indicate how big this screen is, and I’m terrible with dimensions, but Paula and I kind of paced it out and I think, like fifteen feet long?

The image shows two people sitting on chairs in front of a vibrant, abstract background. The background is filled with colorful, overlapping shapes and patterns that resemble leaves and plants in various shades of green, purple, pink, and other bright colors. The person on the left is a woman with long hair, wearing a dark outfit, and holding a phone. The person on the right is  a woman with short hair, wearing glasses and a dark jacket, also holding a phone. The overall scene has an artistic and modern feel.

Gijon again, this time on my face!

The image shows a woman sitting on a chair in front of a colorful, abstract background. The background appears to be a digital or projected art piece with vibrant colors including green, purple, pink, and yellow, forming various shapes and patterns. The woman has long brown hair and is wearing a dark jacket over a patterned dress, along with black tights and knee-high boots. She is holding a microphone or a small device in her right hand and appears to be speaking or presenting. The floor is wooden, and there is a white cane with a red tip lying on the floor next to her.

AI Describing AI Whitney After Party!

Bonus: the AI Describing AI after party at the Whitney Museum with Annie Leist!

PS – My dress is full of bats, not just a random pattern…

The image shows two women standing close together in a room with light-colored wooden cabinets and a white countertop. The woman on the left has long brown hair and is wearing a dark blue jacket over a black dress with a white pattern, along with black knee-high boots. She is smiling and has her arm around the other woman. The woman on the right has short curly red hair and is wearing red glasses. She is dressed in a black, gray, and yellow striped poncho and is holding a white cane. Both women are smiling and appear to be happy. The room has a modern, clean look with bright lighting and windows in the background.


*Check out my previous (very different) photo/description journal HERE*

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *