Texas Tech’s Aaron Hegert to exhibit digital composites at Amarillo College

Aaron Hegert used a branch of artificial intelligence called “deep learning” to create a series of images that compares the way people see photographs to the way algorithms see them.

Hegert, an assistant professor of photography at Texas Tech University, will display his images March 24 to May 4 at Amarillo College’s Southern Light Gallery in an exhibit he calls Shallow Learning.

The Southern Light Gallery is located on the first floor of the Ware Student Commons on AC’s Washington Street Campus and is free and open to the public.

A Fulbright Scholar (Paris 2008), Hegert’s work has been exhibited and published widely – recently at the Utah Museum of Contemporary Art, the Aperture Foundation in New York City, the University of California, and Ohio State University, to name a few.

Hegert says each of the images in Shallow Learning is a leftover from a past project and never had been published, exhibited, or posted on the Internet. He input the images as search criteria in Google’s “search by image” feature.

“This function of the search engine is typically used to track down the provenance of an image found online,” Hegert said, “but because the images I was searching for did not exist online, the search engine instead offered a selection of visually similar images – algorithmic guesses at what these pictures showed.

“I then selected one of these ‘best guesses’ from Google, placed it next to the original image on a blank canvas in Photoshop, and filled in the area between the two images using the “content aware fill” function.”

Hegert says he was motivated to undertake this project after observing that the digital tools he was using in his practice as an artist were beginning to do more of their own thinking. “And just as I wonder what I can learn about the world by looking at images,” he said, “I now also wonder what images are learning about the world by looking at each other.”

A graduate of the San Francisco Art Institute (BFA) and Indiana University (MFA), Hegert’s publications are held in the Joan Flasch Artists Book Collection at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, the Franklin Furnace Archive in Brooklyn, and the Museum of Modern Art Library in New York City.

He also is a founding member of Everything Is Collective, an experimental art collective whose work, he says, “addresses photography, subjectivity, power, and aesthetics.”

For more information about Aaron Hegert’s Shallow Learning exhibit or the Southern Light Gallery, please contact René West, associate professor of photography, at rwest@actx.edu or 806-345-5654.