Today’s digital discourse speaks loudly to AI and raises a question about its future impact in our creative industries. Combine fashion’s penchant for change; a photographer’s endless curiosity; and the makings of a camera (a brainchild of Man and Machine), and we can understand how the art of image-making (photography) is perhaps most exposed to the influences of AI.
Among the pioneers embracing the new tech permeating our creative industries and riding the AI wave is London-based fashion photographer (image-maker), and SHOWstudio founder, Nick Knight. Undiluted, brazen and explosive, Knight’s career as an image-maker dominating the international fashion scene is underpinned with his devotion to innovation and artistic expression.
Knight, along with his team at SHOWStudio, bust out off-the-wall artistry, breaking open a broader dialogue on the spirit of community, creative democracy and positive change. An ambassador for raw creative energy and freedom of expression, Knight launched the inclusive, experimental platform SHOWstudio nearly 20 years ago to showcase fashion’s creative process from conception to execution.
The collective voice of artistic expression, SHOWStudio embodies the fiery spirit of the fashion community. From Knight’s recent AI collaboration to the gritty, conceptual fashion videos – the platform shines light on the many faces and forces shaking and shaping the fashion industry as we know it today.
Knight’s Photographic Sculpture shows Kate Moss in 3D
By adopting and adapting to trends in tech, whether it’s live streaming shows, to showcasing Instagramable highlights, runway shows – notoriously inaccessible in the past – are moving with fresh, fast-paced inclusivity to become real-time, interactive celebrations of fashion. And Knight, on trend with tech and collaborating with other creatives, is providing fuel to the movement.
Like a brush is to a painter, technology is to Knight. Be it shooting, for two decades, on his 8×10 Hasselblad to snapping entire campaigns on his iPhone – the image-maker uses technology as a tool to enhance, to give new life to, a very human moment.
Knight’s industry changing fashion videos offer audiences both a backstage pass and front-row ticket to runway shows, from London to Paris. This year marks the ten-year anniversary of Alexander McQueen’s revolutionary S/S 2010 Plato Atlantis show (watch above) that took place in Paris on 6 October, 2009.
In an almost poetic expression of harmony in art and life (destruction as a part of creation), the show was both McQueen’s final and the first ever to be live streamed; this collaboration, streaming to six million, saw Knight as director with support from IMG.
Nick Knight’s iconic 2013 #DIESELTRIBUTE Campaign, shot entirely on his iPhone
Knight’s image-making projects are kinetic innovative tapestries comprising, to name just a few technologies, sound installation, 3D filming, computer animation and video collage. For the iconic 2013 #DIESELTRIBUTE campaign, Knight partnered up with Diesel’s (then) artistic director Nicola Formichetti in a collaboration which saw Knight shooting on his iPhone, creating a glitchy warped experience enhanced via editing apps Mega Photo and Glitché.
Nick Knight captures the Angels in his Pin-Ups series
In 2014, editor-in-chief of 10 magazine Sophia Neophitou, creative director behind the pinnacle Victoria’s Secret fashion show, recruited Knight to shoot 12 glossy pin-up covers which he also transformed into short animations via 3D scanning.
Reality Inverse: a Maison Margiela x SHOWstudio collaboration
More recent projects include 2019’s “Reality Inverse” short film – a Maison Margiela x SHOWstudio collaboration involving Knight shooting in 360-degree video format, as well as his on-going AI project. The latter is a collaboration between Knight and the German digital and conceptual artist Mario Klingemann.
At the heart of the project is a series of couture images of Sara Grace Wallerstedt, taken by Knight, which Klingemann fed into an AI in 2017. Proposing the question: ‘Can Nick Knight be recreated as an AI?’, the project sees artist and audience deep-dive into a digital discussion on whether AI has the ability to match human creativity.
Nick Knight’s on-going AI project featuring couture images of Sara Grace Wallerstedt
In an episode of the Innovators podcast by the Current Global, March 2019, Nick says “Artificial intelligence is not yet good enough to simulate creativity.” Keen to explore AI’s view on its ability to match human creativity, I proposed Knight’s comment as a prompt into Talk To Transformer – the AI programme built by Adam King that employs OpenAI’s language model GPT-2, which generates paragraphs of text one word at a time.
The generated piece (see image below) essentially captures a key theme in my article, namely how “Artificial intelligence could be one tool that humans will continue to use in creating new work by artists and art enthusiasts.” – Talk To Transformer.
With the AI dialogue very much on-going, let’s pause to consider that while technology is a part of photography’s DNA, it is not a machine peering through the lens (yet); no, for now it is Humanity which locks our gaze. And celebrating humanity – flawed, fierce and free – is ultimately what Knight captures.
Knight and the SHOWstudio team lock eyes with the future, galvanizing artistic freedom and challenging the creative industry – from fashion to film; from start to finish – with questions that hold the power to change. And for this we must celebrate, as change, we well know, ain’t going anywhere soon.
Nick Knight’s Pin-Ups series for 10 Magazine
Sara Grace Wallerstedt features in Knight’s on-going AI project
3D scanning used by Knight for the Lane Crawford 2013 campaign
Reality Inverse: A Maison Margiela x SHOWstudio collaboration
Knight shoots Lily Donaldson for British Vogue, 2008
Nick Knight Social Media Accounts