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Gazprom Neft presents cutting-edge neural network-based art project

Press-release Digitalisation

Gazprom Neft will present a new digital art project “Transformation!” at this year’s St Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF). The project, which is unprecedented in terms of its size, is the company’s first collaboration with Russian media artist Maxim Zhestkov. It represents a virtual macrocosm and visual simulation made of billions of “smart” particles. The project will be unveiled at SPIEF on 6 June 2019.

The combination of colours and shapes used for the project resembles the multicoloured virtual geological models, which are created using neural networks for oil exploration. Each element’s behaviour in this simulation has been programmed via grid computing which involves dozens of high-power machines, with all particles responding to virtual wind flows and even changes in the light. When the various elements collide or come into contact with the curved edges of the stand’s screen, their shape and speed change, as does their trajectory.

This visual simulation will be displayed on the 45-metre curved screen, which is shaped as a Mobius strip. — Its looped shape conveys the never-ending process of improvement. Separating these objects and bringing them closer to the viewer creates the effect of a three-dimensional macro-world, about half a metre deep.

Commenting on the idea behind the project, Alexander Dybal, Deputy CEO for Corporate Communications and a member of the Gazprom Neft Management Board, said: “Thus far, Artificial Intelligence (AI) — has largely been presented in films where it has been visualised via computer graphics. This, in fact, has been a gross simplification of a highly complex process. However, now digital tools have made a huge step forward: instead of imitations, they are now reflecting the phenomenon in line with its actual characteristics. We have been able to show not just the technology but an original look at digital life. Complex physical processes and digital modelling technologies, which help find and produce oil in the 21st century, have, for the first time, found an effective embodiment in modern art. We have suggested to Maxim Zhestkov’s brilliant team that they reconsider the transformation theme via a new visual language, and the result was beyond all our expectations.”
Alexander Dybal
Alexander Dybal Deputy CEO for Corporate Communications and a member of the Gazprom Neft Management Board

Artist Maxim Zhestkov points out that digitisation has expanded the limits of perception a thousand-fold, allowing us to take a look at things that no microscope ever could. According to him, modern technologies are — for both art and business — of similar importance as discovering a new colour or chemical element.

Maxim Zhestkov said: “The scale of what we have done is astonishing. We have trained computers and worked with them as we would with real partners. An artist’s scope has now seen a radical change, because we now have at our disposal an infinite number of elements to experiment with. I think we will soon see supercomputers becoming part of the architecture. All of the surfaces around us will be part of a supercomputer that will be able to change their shape and form in minutes, creating new spaces for people.”
Maxim Zhestkov Russian media artist
Notes for editors

“Gazprom Neft x Maxim Zhestkov” is a joint digital art project combining the innovations of a Russian oil&gas technological leader with the unique style of a Russian digital artist. The company and the author have become the creators of an intrinsically valuable world — an environment in constant development.

The Transformation! art project is a unique macrocosm with its own laws dictating the internal communication and movement of a billion particles. The project was inspired by visual similarities between geological models created by neural networks , Big Data processing systems and physical phenomena.

Previous collaborations with Maxim Zhestkov’s studio have involved brands including Jimmy Choo, Adidas, Nike, Under Armour, Samsung, Google and Microsoft.