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Computer algorithm picks the world's most creative art

Jon Fingas, @jonfingas
June 11, 2015
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Who would you trust to determine history's most creative art? A room full of seasoned critics? Rutgers University researchers think a machine can do the job. They've developed a computer vision algorithm that ranks the creativity of art based on how similar it is to earlier works in terms of everything from color and texture to the presence of familiar objects. The code treats art history as a network -- groundbreaking pieces are connected to later derivatives, and seemingly unique content may have a link to something produced in the distant past.

So what are the top picks? In many ways, they match what you'd expect. Edvard Munch's iconic The Scream is considered exceptionally creative, as are Goya's Christ Crucified and Monet's Haystacks at Chailly at Sunrise. At the same time, though, the algorithm knocks classics like Auguste Rodin's scuplture Danaid or Albrecht Durer's portrait of his mother. However, it's important to remember that the software is looking for originality, not whether or not artwork is good. Although the algorithm could easily apply to books and other artistic formats, it's going to take considerably longer before computers develop a critical eye.

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