Will robots do art instead of us? Will COVID-19 help them?

The Berlin art scene before and after Corona – what impact has COVID-19 had on the art world? Is digitalisation the chance to get out of the crisis? We talked to Daniel Bartsch (head of press and public relations at the Senate Department for Culture and Europe) and Thomas Schäfer (artist) about these exciting topics.

Will robots do art instead of us? Will COVID-19 help them?

Comacon: Herr Bartsch, Herr Schäfer. Thank you for taking the time for this interview.
We would like to know how you think COVID-19 has affected museums, exhibitions and vernissages?

Daniel Bartsch


Daniel Bartsch: Through COVID-19, we all experienced exceptional situations that have had an enormous impact on our professional and private lives. We are very happy that state-funded museums and other artistic organisations have reopened as far as possible in compliance with hygiene measures. There are currently no current visitor numbers. Visitors have become more cautious, that is true. Nevertheless, we can say that normal operation has returned to the facilities and visitors are happy to be able to experience art live again.


Thomas Schäfer: Closed museums, cancelled vernissages and postponed exhibitions remain a sad event for everyone. I am therefore very pleased that the Kunstwelten can be visited again, albeit with restrictions. Regulations, such as fixed visitor numbers, apply to all public institutions. The visitor has become more cautious, which is understandable. However, the art awareness and feeling that one develops when experiencing works of art live on site remains.



Comacon: How would you say has digitisation changed the art industry?
Is art through digitisation still art at all and was it supported by COVID-19?

Daniel Bartsch: Digitisation is an addition to classical art. Digital offers complement the analogue offers, but will never replace them. For comparison: a song sounds great on a Blu-Ray disc, but is never the same as a live concert. Analogue art provides the opportunity for an immediate live experience for the audience.


Thomas Schäfer


Thomas Schäfer: Digital art has found its place, but not only since or through Corona. Digitalisation in the art industry has been going on for years. Artists work via video, for example with GIFS, or use Virtual Reality (VR) as a carrier of their art message. Why should ‘classical artists’ be intimidated by this? It is an addition, a ‘new’ medium. Painting has not been replaced by photography, nor (hopefully) has photography been replaced by videography.



Comacon: Let’s go one step further: from digitalisation to artificial intelligence (AI) in art. Paintings, poems, music and films are produced in the form of countless programmes and tools. Our question: Can artificial intelligence (AI) replace art in the future or will it always need people? How can art and AI work together?

Thomas Schäfer: I would find the question of whether artificial intelligence can replace the artist more appropriate. Artists ask themselves a question and try to answer it ‘with art’, be it the medium of painting, photography, sculpture or video. Making it tangible for the viewer. Can the computer ask itself a question? Find its own answer to it? Even develop a self-confidence for aesthetics? I cannot answer that. Maybe not yet. Artists today write algorithms that help them to transport their questions as a new medium and use the computer to make their statements. A good example is Refik Anadol . An artist who integrates media data from art into digital architectures and visually presents this data as art with the help of ‘artificial’ intelligence, yet controlled by his algorithms. And as an answer to his question. It remains to be seen whether machines themselves can make this kind of decision, which can be found in the concept of art. I am curious about the time to come!

We would like to thank you for this interview and are very excited about the developments in the digital and analogue art industry.

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