Is it possible to engineer the discovery of art?
In 2013, two graduate students in MIT’s School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences (SHASS) set out to answer that question, and today, thanks to their work as research assistants — there’s an app for that!
Artbot, developed by Desi Gonzalez and Liam Andrew in the HyperStudio research group of Comparative Media Studies/Writing (CMS/W), is a mobile website app that mines both user preferences and event tags to provide serendipitous connections to the local art scene.
“We’re trying to make Boston one museum,” Gonzalez says. “We were really interested in unearthing hidden gems, things you didn’t realize you’d like. Hopefully, users will fall through the rabbit hole of connection.”
Artbot enables users to select their interests from a list that ranges from medieval art to surrealism and from ancient history to photography. At the same time, the app scrapes data from museum websites to find artists, movements, and themes that link events to each other in various ways. Artbot then cross-references the data collected to generate event recommendations.