“We are (all) Marianne”: creating the French woman thanks to artificial intelligence

It is a tradition in France: each president chooses his “Marianne”, symbol of the French Republic which will then appear on the postage stamps. For the next five years, the Obvious collective, which uses AI to create works of art, is considering a new Marianne more representative of the French: it asks all women who want to be part of this project to send their photo and will create a new portrait of Marianne using a GAN (Generative Adversarial Network) AI algorithm.

Pierre Fautrel, Hugo Caselles-Dupré and Gauthier Vernier, the members of Collectif Obvious, are childhood friends and intended to work together. Hugo Caselles-Dupré, researcher in artificial intelligence, discovers GANs, algorithms invented by Ian Goodfellow in 2014 which produced a huge enthusiasm in the field of machine learning and made it famous, the collective decides to use them as tools Creation.

GANs tools for artistic creation

A GAN consists of two neural systems that compete, the generator generates a sample of images that it offers to the discriminator, instructs the latter to make the difference between the images in the database and those produced by the generator . The three friends, art lovers, then decided to create classic portraits thanks to these algorithms capable of replicating the creation process. One of their first paintings was bought by the director of the Institute of Artistic Careers (ICART) and collector, Nicolas Laugero Lasserre, which made them known. In 2018, one of their works, the “Portrait of Edmond de Belamy” estimated at no more than 10,000 euros, was sold for $432,500 by the famous American auction house Christie’s. For this painting, the collective trained its algorithm with around 15,000 portraits painted between the 15th and 19th centuries. The signature, as for the other tables produced by Obvious, is a mathematical formula.

“We are Marianne”

The Obvious collective, which has become famous abroad, thought about a project that could symbolize France and decided to create a Marianne representative of the current French woman in her diversity. During an interview with RTL, Pierre Fautrel explained:

“Our works are rather known by collectors abroad but we wanted to work with France so we started to think about different symbols of the country. Marianne has emerged as a relevant choice because her current representation is a little outdated, in our opinion. Many Marianne were chosen for their career or their plastic. We think it is possible to do more representative things with digital tools. »

The Marianne project offers all French women of legal age who want to participate to send their photo to the site we are marianne.fr to allow the algorithm to draw the strokes of the next symbol of the Republic, ” a Marianne who is representative of all French women in their diversity as much as in their concordance”, before April 10. More than 5,200 of them have already sent a bust photo, on a white background and without glasses as required, but it is not enough. Internet users will vote, among several Marianne that the collective will propose, for their favorite from April 17 to 30. The new Marianne, which will not be a photorealistic face but a stylized artistic representation, will be unveiled on May 1. The collective wishes to propose it to La Poste so that it is printed on the next stamps, then will send it in physical form to the future president.

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“We are (all) Marianne”: creating the French woman thanks to artificial intelligence


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