08 jul, 2016

Spotlight On "The Next Rembrandt"

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JWT Amsterdam was awarded 16 Lions at Cannes this year, including 2 Grand Prix for "The Next Rembrandt." Applauded for its creative use of data, “The Next Rembrandt” was the talk of the town at Cannes.

Using a 3-D Printer, JWT designed a program that could replicate all aspects of the Dutch painter’s artistic techniques in order to re-create a famous masterpiece. JWT Amsterdam collaborated with Microsoft, Delft University of Technology and the Rembrandt House Museum  to bring this vision to life.

“The Next Rembrandt” is a daring campaign that managed to merge the worlds of technology, data and art in order to create an inspiring piece of art.

We caught up with JWT Amsterdam’s Executive Creative Director Bas Korsten to learn more about the creative process behind the campaign and what winning in Cannes has meant to the Amsterdam team.


“The Next Rembrandt” has sparked a discussion about the future of artificial intelligence and art. What do you make of the fact that until now, “creativity” has been a human domain? The idea behind “The Next Rembrandt” was conceived by a human being. Furthermore, the algorithms were trained by humans too. I think we’re safe for another ten years or so – creativity as a human skill that can be deconstructed is a fun theory though.

What does “The Next Rembrandt” mean for the future of human design, data technology and perhaps art itself? The beauty of this project is that data, technology and art become one. The entity that we deem to be art – the physical painting – is actually data and technology coming together seamlessly. Like in the music industry, the computer will be a tool for artists to do great things.

“The Next Rembrandt” took home an incredible 16 Lions at Cannes, including 2 Grand Prix. How does it feel to be recognized in two of the most coveted categories – Cyber and Creative Data? We’re especially proud of the two Grand Prix categories and the Innovation Lion, because they represent the future of our industry. And it’s pretty inspiring to hear from people that have been around that this project pushes the boundaries of our industry. Furthermore, it proves that Amsterdam is a great breeding ground for innovative ideas like this and that the words ‘J. Walter Thompson’ and ‘traditional advertising network’ should never be used in the same sentence again.

 What was your greatest challenge in producing “The Next Rembrandt?” One of the greatest challenges was not getting distracted or derailed by all of the restrictions that we faced. 99% of all of the people that we spoke to at the beginning of the project were highly skeptical. Keeping our eyes on the dot on the horizon was the biggest challenge; not being discouraged. If you can think it, you can do it.

The painting’s unveiling in April was met with a heated global discussion about the relationship between artificial intelligence and creativity. Why do you think the conversation surrounding “The Next Rembrandt” is important to both advertisers and society at large? The conversation focuses around what we want computers to be able to do. From a data privacy standpoint and from an AI point of view, for instance. What do we allow? Are there areas that we don’t want computers to touch? I think that also fuels the difference in the reactions from the art and the tech worlds. This is an interesting discussion that has only has just started.

 View “The Next Rembrandt” here.


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