Harold Cohen

2 February 2007

Computer, software, projector

AARON is one of the longest running single projects in contemporary art, as well as one of the most provocative and fascinating.

Harold Cohen has been developing this artificial intelligence programme that produces art at the University of California San Diego (UCSD) since 1973, following an introduction to the possibilities of computing during an earlier visit to UCSD in the late 1960s.

Since then, AARON has continually developed and changed: Cohen has experimented with alternative means of production, shifts in the style of work, and a move from monochrome to colour output. Earlier presentations of AARON, for example at the Tate Gallery in the early 1980s, involved connecting the computer housing the programme to a turtle drawing device. The device would draw the output on large sheets of paper on the ground, which were then coloured by Cohen in the gallery space.

In the installation on display here, a projection shows AARON producing a new colour image every 10 to 15 minutes. The implications of AARON for our understanding of human creativity and the possibilities of machine intelligence are considerable and yet to be fully explored.