Recognition Mixes Photojournalism with Art Creating Beautiful Matches

In the continued blurring of borders between the art world and photojournalism an innovative project has sprung to life on the shores of Tate Britain. As newsworthy photographs from around the world roll in a computer brain mines its gallery archives looking for similarities. The resulting matches can be beautiful…

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REUTERS Kim Kyung-Hoon / Swimmer, Nicola Tyson

Researchers developed an artificial intelligence that combed up-to-the-minute photojournalism provided by Reuters and ‘matched’ it with artworks from within Tate Britain’s extensive archive.

Recognition incorporates multiple artificial intelligence technologies, including computer vision capabilities such as object recognition, facial recognition, colour and composition analysis; and natural language processing of text associated with images, allowing it to analyse context and subject matter and produce written descriptions of image comparisons. 

Aptly named Recognition, the initiative was the winner of this year’s annual IK Prize and saw an Italian communication research team named Fabrica take the combined £105,000 award to develop the project.

By combining preexisting AI software and working with Jolibrain of France Fabrica the team produced an interactive website available both online and in gallery that broke down the functions performed by the art’s AI.

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A display at Tate Britain accompanies the online project offering visitors the chance to interrupt the machine’s selection process. The results of this experiment – to see if an artificial intelligence can learn from the many personal responses humans have when looking at images – will be presented on the virtual gallery site at the end of the project.

Recognition is an autonomously operating software programme. All reasonable steps have been taken to prevent publication of challenging, offensive or infringing content. Comparisons between artistic works and other material are made by the software programme and are for the purpose of stimulating debate about art, expression and representation. Tate invites online discussion about these comparisons and encourages users to treat copyright material appropriately according to their local law.

We’ve selected a couple of our favourite matches below. We urge you to delve into the gallery archive or indeed visit Tate Britain to see if you can beat the machine!

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Victor Fraile / Patrick Heron
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Castagnettes no2 / Joshua Roberts

For more matches, visit Recognition here.


Recognition, winner of IK Prize 2016 for digital innovation, is an artificial intelligence program that compares up-to-the-minute photojournalism with British art from the Tate collection. Over three months from 2 September to 27 November

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