RDIF and The State Hermitage Museum present the creative potential of Artificial Intelligence during SPIEF-2019

Press release, 06.06.2019

Moscow, June 6, 2019 – The Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), Russia’s sovereign wealth fund, and The State Hermitage Museum have opened an exhibition “Artificial Intelligence and Intercultural Dialogue” dedicated to the creative capabilities of Artificial Intelligence (AI).

Russia’s first major international art exhibition exploring AI’s role in modern art was opened in the Hermitage’s General Staff Building (Historical Archive Hall) on June 6th, the first day of this year’s St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF). Fourteen artists from 12 countries are taking part in the exhibition, which is a part of SPIEF’s cultural program.

The opening ceremony was attended by Khalid Al-Falih, Minister of Energy, Industry and Mineral Resources of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Kirill Dmitriev, CEO of RDIF, Mikhail Piotrovsky, CEO of The State Hermitage, and Vladimir Medinsky, Minister of Culture of the Russian Federation.

The exhibition is supported by the Ministry of Culture of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Public Investment Fund (PIF), the sovereign wealth fund of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Russia-China Investment Fund (RCIF) and Russia-Japan Investment Fund (RJIF).

RDIF and its international partners are already investing in AI technologies, which, according to experts, can add $13tn to the global economy by 2030, drastically transforming many sectors. Many countries are already developing their own AI programs.

AI technology is used to process large volumes of data, including images. In recent years, the use of AI has helped to achieve revolutionary results in cybersecurity, banking and marketing, as a result of facial recognition technology.

AI-based contemporary art has received global recognition, following the sale of “Portrait of Edmond Belamy”, a painting created by the French art group Obvious, at Christie’s for $432,500 on October 25, 2018.

Artists and computer programmers from Obvious used generative-adversarial network (GAN) algorithms, designed in 2014 to create the painting. GAN is able to simultaneously run two algorithms. One algorithm constantly generates images, while the second one thoroughly processes them, filtering out the failed images.

The invention of generative-adversarial networks has enabled artificial intelligence systems to process information in a manner that is closer to that of the human brain. This enables it to use imagination and take a critical approach to the received information. The activity of both algorithms in GAN is balanced and excludes conflict, facilitating the best results.

Three artworks from Obvious, part of a group of portraits of the fictional Belamy family, as well as works of other AI-based art stars will be exhibited for the first time in Russia.

Most of the pieces in the exhibition are a result of creative processing by large AI algorithms. Lulwa Al-Homoud from Saudi Arabia has developed an abstract graphical form of language developed from the Arabic alphabet, which some predict could become a universal language.

The installation from Italian artist Davide Quayola represents the AI “view” of French impressionist paintings, while the work by Refik Anadol “Machine hallucinations” was created using the latest GAN algorithm which processed 100,000 photographs of Gothic and modern architecture.

Kostya Novoselov, who won the 2010 Nobel Prize for Physics for discovering ‘miracle material’ graphene, examines in his work the limits of machine learning, drawing parallels with artworks created by humans.

The exhibition at the Hermitage is RDIF’s new initiative, aimed at promoting dialogue between cultures. It builds on earlier successful cultural endeavors by the fund, including organising concerts from the Mariinsky orchestra and a Russian avant-garde art exhibition in Saudi Arabia in 2018, in partnership with Saudi Aramco and the Kingdom’s sovereign wealth fund Public Investment Fund (PIF).

Exhibition participants include:

Mario Klingemann (Germany), Davide Quayola (Italy), Lulwah Al Homoud (Saudi Arabia), Daniah Alsaleh (Saudi Arabia), Sun Xun (China), Aaajiao (China), ::Vtol:: (Russia), Kostya Novoselov (Russia – United Kingdom - Singapore) in Collaboration with Zhestkov Studio, Egor Kraft (Russia), Refik Anadol (Turkey), Obvious Art Collective (France), Team Void (South Korea), Jonathan Monaghan (USA), Norimichi Hirakawa (Japan)

Dmitry Ozerkov and Victoria Kondrashova are the exhibition curators. The exhibition will be open until July 7, 2019.

Kirill Dmitriev, CEO of the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), said:
“We are grateful to The State Hermitage for this unique partnership. This is one of the first AI-based art exhibitions in Russia. We see a great interest in AI in the world and it is no accident that there are works from 12 countries presented at this exhibition. It is both an example of interaction between AI and humans as well as interaction between our countries. We believe that art unites and such unity between countries is very important. Our partners who manage assets worth over $15 trillion have contributed to organizing this exhibition. For us it is important that the Ministry of Culture of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia, the Russia-China Investment Fund (RCIF) and Russia-Japan Investment Fund (RJIF) supported this exhibition. It shows that together we can implement both investment projects and cultural initiatives.”

Khalid Al-Falih, Minister of Energy, Industry and Mineral Resources, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, said:
“A large delegation from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is participating in the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum. The representatives of the delegation are here today at the opening ceremony of the “Artificial Intelligence and Intercultural Dialogue” exhibition organized by the Russian Direct Investment Fund and The State Hermitage. We are pleased to support this wonderful exhibition, which opens today. I am proud to say that out of 16 pieces of art presented at the exhibition two are from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. They were created by two brilliant female Saudi artists. This speaks a lot not only about cultural and scientific development but also about the talent of Saudi women. I would just like to remind you that the word ‘algorithm’ actually comes from the name of Arab mathematician and scientist Al-Khoresmi. I would like to thank organizers for building understanding and trust. Art creates cultural understanding and builds bridges on which we can further build economic prosperity for the people of Russia, for the people all over the world, including Middle East region and Saudi Arabia.”

Mikhail Piotrovsky, CEO of The State Hermitage, said:
“I am very glad to see you here today at this remarkable exhibition which symbolizes our cooperation with the Russian Direct Investment Fund as well as cooperation between AI and the human mind. You will see the examples of how modern technology can be made more human. This is the main mission of culture – to make technology and digital culture into mankind’s friends and not enemies.”

Vladimir Medinsky, Minister of Culture, Russian Federation, said:
“I would like to stress the international nature of this exhibition. Fourteen artists from 12 countries are presented there. It is by accident I stuttered on the word “artists”. How do you describe the authors of these works? Artists, art groups or algorithms? This exhibition, one of the first of its kind in Europe, especially on the walls of a top museum, poses not only educational but also philosophical questions. Here we can talk about copyright, about the art of the future and about the future itself.”


Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) is Russia's sovereign wealth fund established in 2011 to make equity co-investments, primarily in Russia, alongside reputable international financial and strategic investors. RDIF acts as a catalyst for direct investment in the Russian economy. RDIF’s management company is based in Moscow. Currently, RDIF has experience of the successful joint implementation of more than 70 projects with foreign partners totaling more than RUB 1.5tn and covering 95% of the regions of the Russian Federation. RDIF portfolio companies employ more than 700,000 people and generate revenues which equate to more than 5% of Russia’s GDP. RDIF established joint strategic partnerships with leading international co-investors from more than 15 countries that total more than $40bn. Further information can be found at rdif.ru

For additional information contact:
Arseniy Palagin
Russian Direct Investment Fund
Press Secretary
Tel: +7 495 644 34 14, ext. 2395
Mobile: +7 916 110 31 41
E-mail: arseniy.palagin@rdif.ru

Andrew Leach / Maria Shiryaevskaya
Hudson Sandler
Tel: +44 (0) 20 7796 4133

Gleb Bryanski
Russian Direct Investment Fund
Director for Special Projects
Tel: +7 495 644 34 14, ext. 2395
Mobile: +7 916 110 31 41
E-mail: gleb.bryanskiy@rdif.ru