The Stainless Steel 'Impossible Statue'

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a hot topic in the news at the moment. Predictions of how the technology will be used in the near future are extremely wide-ranging, from promises of a revolution in medical science to gloomy warnings that it will take over the world and destroy humanity. The truly diverse potential of the technology has recently been highlighted with the unveiling of a new stainless steel statue that was entirely designed with the use of AI. 

The impressive sculpture has been named 'Impossible Statue', as it incorporates the artistic styles of five world-famous sculptors who are no longer alive. These sculptors and their unique styles are:

  • Michelangelo (1475 - 1564) and his off-balance, highly-dynamic contrapposto poses
  • The reflectiveness and focus on musculature pioneered by Auguste Rodin (1840 -1917)
  • The expressionistic artistry of K├Ąthe Kollwitz (1867 - 1945)
  • The strong and deliberate focus on mass and momentum displayed in the work of Takamure Kotaro (1883 - 1956)
  • The signature defiance exhibited in the sculptures of Augusta Savage (1892 - 1962)

Impossible Statue was designed and built by Sandvik, a leading engineering group based in Sweden. Sandvik engineers began by teaching AI systems the styles of the above-mentioned sculptors, from which was created a two-dimensional design. This was then translated to a 3D blueprint with the use of state-of-the-art depth estimators.

The body design was refined by talented human pose-estimators before realistic fabric was generated by algorithms used in video games. details that had been lost during previous steps were re-introduced by the specialised AI, with the resulting model boasting in excess of none million polygons.

With the use of computer-aided manufacturing, engineers at Sandvik machined 17 pieces of premium-quality stainless steel, facilitated by drilling, turning and milling tools. The work was carried out to such a high level of precision that the joins are practically invisible to the naked eye. Leftover material was given back to Alleima, the original supplier of the stainless steel, for recycling.

Standing 1.5 metres in height and weighing in at a hefty 500kg, Impossible Statue is now on display at Tekniska Musset, the National Museum of Science and technology in Sweden. Commenting on the reasons for displaying the impressive statue, the museum's director Peter Skogh said: "Our mission is to create a broader understanding of the possibilities of technology and to stimulate the next generation to pursue a career within STEM-topics." 

Find out more about stainless steel products and their many applications on the BS Stainless website.

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