AI Art: The Genius of a New Era

a symbol of 21st-century photography

By Tatiana Alexandrova

In a groundbreaking intersection of technology and art, an unprecedented portrait titled “The Genius” has emerged as a symbol of 21st-century photography. This unique portrayal of the esteemed Ukrainian scientist, Academician Borys Paton, marks the first time a living human’s photo portrait has been created by artificial intelligence.

The visionary behind this extraordinary project is Sergey Melnikoff, an American photographer-artist. “The Genius” was unveiled as part of a special initiative celebrating the centenary of Borys Paton, a legendary figure in the field of science and engineering. Melnikoff shared the fascinating story of this creation at the National News Agency of Ukraine, the venue for the first public display of this remarkable work of art.

Melnikoff explained that “The Genius” represents the culmination of a large-scale cultural endeavor. The project involved developing a sophisticated machine algorithm capable of processing thousands of photographs of Borys Paton, taken over his 100-year lifetime, from 1920 to the present. The supercomputer was tasked with synthesizing a composite image of this genius scientist, spanning the 20th and 21st centuries. The Ashmanov Neural Networks IT company, based in Skolkovo Innovation Centre, handled the intricate processing of the vast photo collection.

Members of The Soul of Ukraine, an International Charitable Foundation, celebrate the 100th anniversary of Borys Paton. Patriarch Filaret and Sergey Melnikoff, also known as MFF, present the first photographic portrait of a living human created by artificial intelligence. Brovary City, 2019


Tatiana Alexandrova, Art Director of The Soul of Ukraine Foundation, presents the portrait “Genius” at the National News Agency of Ukraine, UKRINFORM. Kyiv, 2019

Dr. Borys Paton (1918 – 2019) was a professor, twice Hero of Socialist Labor in the USSR, and the first Hero of Ukraine. He served as President of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine from 1962 to 2019. Since 2014, Dr. Paton chaired the Trustee Board of The Soul of Ukraine, an International Charitable Foundation.

During the portrait’s presentation, Irina Klimova, a Ukrainian artist, arts critic, and Director of the Sholem Aleichem Museum in Kyiv, lauded the artificial intelligence’s remarkable ability to create an evocative and multifaceted work of art. She emphasized that the portrait’s unusual glow, typically achieved through traditional fine arts, was now replicated by a machine, producing a highly emotional and impressive piece. Depending on the lighting and the viewer’s perspective, Borys Paton’s portrait reveals a range of personas—from a Biblical sage to a Mephistophelean figure.

Borys Paton, a pioneering metallurgist, engineer, and inventor, is renowned as the first Hero of Ukraine and the “father of welding.” With over 400 inventions to his name, Paton revolutionized welding technology, including the development of electroslag welding and advancements in space and underwater welding. He also spearheaded the application of welding in medical procedures, notably pioneering the welding of living tissues, a technique now used in countless surgical operations. His contributions have drawn comparisons to other luminaries such as Henry Ford and Nikola Tesla.

“The Genius.” The first photographic portrait of a living human created by artificial intelligence.