Painting The Cave: An interview with Luna Fête artist Jenna deBoisblanc

Luna Fête artist incorporates creative coding, neural networks, and artificial intelligence into interactive installation

By J.S. Makkos
Special Projects Asset
AIGA New Orleans

I caught up with creative coder and educator Jenna deBoisblanc to ask her a few questions about her 2016 Luna Fête artist installation, The Cave. It was a luminous, multidimensional, matrix-like, cave environment complete with expanding stalactites and stalagmites cleverly projected in the back of a retrofitted shipping container. T
he audience spawned algorithmically-generated computer “cave paintings” that were embedded into the cave’s digital mesh. The Cave, along with a number of other artists’ illuminated works, greatly expanded this year’s festival of light, and ran along Lafayette Street from Lafayette Square all the way down to the holiday festivities happening on Fulton Street.

How did you conceptualize your installation?

It really began when I read a paper about neural networks and how machine learning was being applied to render images in the styles of famous painters like Van Gogh. These algorithms are currently employed by apps like Prisma, that preserve the semantic content of the original images, but apply a new texture and style from a separate work of art or artist. Neural nets are also used by Google’s deep dream and the code for rendering these images is open source. 

So viewers can tweet @paintingthecave an image and it renders them on the cave walls, how does that work?

I wrote a web app that scrapes tweets and applies the neural network algorithm to the image from the original tweet and thus the piece of art is incorporated into the mesh of the digital cave. The app then tweets the new image back to the original sender.

original image from twitter user @levyscott

Image as painted by The Cave













Why did you use cave painting as a metaphor?

I wanted to explore the idea that artificial intelligence is starting to create art and this is beginning to blur the lines between what it means to be human and machine. Art was the single differentiator between animals and humans and so it is poignant to address the next step in this sequence by observing the artistic capabilities of AI.

Do you have plans for furthering your concept?

This has been a great test run, but I would like to make the experience more immersive and the cave much larger. It would be cool if people could walk into it and be transported to a different time and space. The work that has been done could be ported into a virtual reality environment where the viewer can more fully experience the dream of the AI.

You can view read more about her fascinating work here:
And view the image gallery for this latest installation at:


By JS Makkos
Published December 13, 2016