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  1. Visual Arts

He's back: Dalí Museum resurrects Salvador Dalí through artificial intelligence

Want to hear all about Dalí's work from the artist himself? "Dalí Lives," an experience that uses artificial intelligence to create an uncanny version of Salvador Dalí, opens a the Dalí Museum in April.
Dali Lives, an experience that uses artificial intelligence to create an uncanny version of Salvador Dali, opens a the Dali Museum in April. Courtesy of Paradise Public Relations
Published Jan. 30

ST. PETERSBURG — Things will get even more surreal at the Dalí Museum in April, when the "Dalí Lives" experience opens featuring an artificial intelligence version of Salvador Dalí himself.

Dalí died in 1989. But the museum's partnership with Goodby Silverstein & Partners, a San Francisco-based advertising agency, has resurrected a version of Dalí's likeness. On a series of screens throughout the museum, the Surrealist master will share insights into his artworks and even comment on current events.

The immersive project began with museum staff gathering hundreds of interviews, quotes and archival footage from Dalí. Goodby Silverstein and Partners used these materials to train an algorithm to learn aspects of Dalí's face. An actor with the same physical characteristics was filmed reading from Dalí's writings, along with present day messages, and then the algorithm generated a version of Dalí's likeness to match the actor's face and expressions.

The announcement of "Dalí Lives" came with teaser videos of the experience. Not only is the physical resemblance uncanny, but his theatrical manner is perfectly captured. In one, he challenges the idea that he is dead, a fitting concept for a surrealist.

"Dalí was prophetic in many ways and understood his historical importance," Dalí Museum executive director Hank Hine said in a news release. "He wrote, 'If someday I may die, though it is unlikely, I hope the people in the cafés will say, 'Dalí has died, but not entirely.' This technology lets visitors experience his bigger-than-life personality in addition to our unparalleled collection of his works."

The museum has often used technology to enhance the viewing and educational experience. The current exhibition, "Magritte and Dalí," has an augmented reality portion in which guests are inserted into a painting from each artist.

"Dalí Lives" is the third collaboration between the museum and Goodby Silverstein and Partners. In 2014, "Gala Contemplating You" transformed visitors' selfies into a projected full-scale replica of the 1976 monumental painting, Gala Contemplating the Mediterranean Sea Which at Twenty Meters Becomes the Portrait of Abraham Lincoln (Homage to Rothko). In 2016, the museum created the "Dreams of Dalí" virtual reality experience, which transports viewers into Dalí's painting, Archaeological Reminiscence of Millet's "Angelus."

Contact Maggie Duffy at mduffy@tampabay.com. Follow @maggiedalexis.

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