Harold Cohen: AARON

Member Previews, Jan 31–Feb 2
Feb 3–May 2024

As artificial intelligence tools for image creation enter the mainstream with text-to-image software such as DALL-E, Midjourney, and Stable Diffusion, Harold Cohen: AARON examines the historical foundations of AI artmaking and provides a deep exploration of creativity, authorship, and collaboration in the context of AI.

This exhibition centers on AARON, the earliest artificial intelligence software for artmaking and one of the longest-running contemporary art projects. Conceived in the late 1960s by Harold Cohen at the University of California San Diego, AARON was further developed until his death in 2016. AARON’s various manifestations include software that drives plotting and painting machines and software to display imagery on monitors or projectors. The first and only museum to collect versions of the AARON software from different time periods, the Whitney will showcase artworks produced by AARON and highlight its drawing process live in the galleries for the first time since the 1990s. Featuring the Museum’s collection of AARON’s paintings and drawings, along with two versions of the screen-based and drawing software, Harold Cohen: AARON offers a comprehensive view of AI’s foundations and its role in artmaking today.

This exhibition is organized by Christiane Paul, Curator of Digital Art, with David Lisbon, Curatorial Assistant.

Generous support for Harold Cohen: AARON is provided by Judy Hart Angelo.

Additional support is provided by David L. Diamond.