Dali Museum Launches Campaign Replicating Artist’s Voice Using AI

In the lead up to the 120th birthday of the Spanish surrealist Salvador Dalí in early May, the Salvador Dalí Museum in St. Petersburg, Florida, has unveiled a new ad campaign: an artificial intelligence-powered incarnation of the artist’s voice that lets visitors correspond with his virtual doppelgänger.

Developed by the San-Francisco-based advertising agency Goodby Silverstein & Partners (GS&P), the project draws on archival materials housed at the museum, including writings and audio recordings of Dali’s, engineered into an interactive experience using two machine learning models: GPT-4 from OpenAI and Eleven V2 from ElevenLabs.

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In an installation at the museum, visitors activate the AI Dalí by posing questions to a physical replica of his sculpture Lobster Telephone (1938). The move connects the caller with an AI chatbot powered by the machine learning models. When the signal goes through, the phone delivers back an audible answer generated by the AI technology in a replicated rendition of Dalí’s voice that mimics the sounds of the artist’s actual speech and intonation.

This installation is part of the museum’s ongoing collaboration with GS&P, following a previous venture in 2019 titled “Dalí Lives” and another titled “Dream Tapestry” in 2023, where museum-goers provided descriptions of dream descriptions to generate digital paintings. In a statement, the museum’s director Hank Hine said he sees the digital campaign as an apt tribute to Dalí, who died in 1989 at the age of 84, and was known for involving uncanniness in much of his artistic output.

Other museums have tested AI’s capacity to market historical figures to general audiences, though some detractors see such digital collaborations as problematic for introducing commercial interests into institutional spaces. In 2023, the Musée D’Orsay in Paris launched an AI-generated replica of Vincent Van Gogh as part of a project titled “Bonjour Vincent,” where visitors could converse with the virtual clone of the French impressionist, the responses drawing from 900 of the artist’s letters and other biographies written around his life.

In an interview with Inc. magazine, Martin Pagh Ludvigsen, the agency’s creative technology director, denied the tech used to produce the Dali project posed any threat to the museum’s legitimacy, calling it “a learning tool.”

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