An AI Summer

Read a statement by the curator Nora O Murchú on the chosen projects and have a look at the different ideas ranging from chat bots to deep unlearning exercises.

Curated by Nora O Murchú — Okt 15, 2020

Elaine Hoey & Alan Butler, AI-Mediated Production Residency, »An AI Summer«, 2017

What if a residency programme is mediated by AI? A Nofretete bot chatting with you about the practice of museums in the Global North? Human knowledge comes to an end? And the last remaining role for people may be performing the emotional labor?

Four new artistic projects have been selected for the web residencies by Solitude and ZKM on the topic »An AI Summer«. The artists will work on their ideas during the month of November, posting articles and works regularly and reporting on the steps to their final piece. Projects will be shown on Schlosspost as well as on the ZKM website. Read a statement by the curator and juror Nora O Murchú on the topic and the chosen web residents and have a look at the shortlisted proposals.

There is something of a fiction about Artificial Intelligence. Old stories about all knowing sentient machines, impossible utopias, and limitless capacities to function. Machines that surpass and uprise against the human, that seek out desire and freedoms. But these are old stories. These are fictions that obfuscate and dull the imagination, that fail to provide thinking or inspiration beyond present conditions or the banal futures that they make possible.

Applications of AI systems today, organise and operate with efficiency at their core. Statistics are used to recognise patterns, predict behaviour and make decisions. Adopted across multiple sectors AI in its current state is predominately concerned with the efficiency and flows of capital accumulation. These systems enable efficient data collection and processing, and are driven to find solutions, often exacerbating inequalities and smoothing out the complexities from the worlds we live in. From their application to complex social systems, new machine types of knowledge and values are emerging. Increasingly, it seems urgent to understand the implications of these systems, and how they speak to pressing socio-political concerns, while reconfiguring us in relation to these emergent realities.

For this open call we asked how should we think of machine intelligence in the context of art. Whether new types of knowledge, value and meanings made with these technical modalities are possible, and how we might read and understand artistic work in contemporary technological conditions. The selected shortlist further this discourse and in their proposals lay emphasis on the complex socio-political concerns that connect to Artificial Intelligence, while questioning the practices that go into the development of these technologies.

The four selected winners of this call speculate upon the potentials that Artifical Intelligence offers. Their proposals offer ways to enter into dialogues about cultural contexts and with publics when engaging with artistic work that employs Artificial Intelligence. They call attention to the potentials for new narratives and values (Nora Al-Badri & Jan Nikolai Nelles), question the potentials for the repositioning of knowledge (Sascha Pohflepp & Chris Woebken), play with the possibilities of post-capitalism (Elaine Hoey & Alan Butler), and map out the emotional relations between humans and machines (Lauren McCarthy). These proposals address the complexities and challenges that non-human cultural production raises and map out a series of speculative suppositions for forms of agency, autonomy and responsibility to which the artistic practice, as a form of critical intervention will support the understanding of contemporary social, cultural, political and economic conditions that these technical modalities reside within. In doing so they aim to lay emphasis on the question of what differences in authorship, autonomy and responsibility are brought forth by articulations of the speculative relations between humans and machines to open up spheres of experimentation and risk that artistic practice can begin to operate in.

»AI-Mediated Production Residency« by Elaine Hoey & Alan Butler

Butler and Hoey will present an AI-mediated residency programme, in which the human participants produce works under the instruction of a fully creative artificial intelligence system. This AI system conceives and outputs original concepts for artworks, which can be electively produced by the residency participants. These concepts are based upon on-going critical research into, and engagement with art-historical canons. Essentially participants will carry out a set of instructions provided by the AI for the production of physical artworks in various media. For the duration of the month, the Akademie Schloss Solitude website will follow the progress of the residents.

Elaine Hoey & Alan Butler, AI-Mediated Production Residency, »An AI Summer«, 2017

»NefertitiBot« by Nora Al-Badri & Jan Nikolai Nelles

NefertitiBot is a chatbot which seeks to take over the power of interpretational sovereignty from administrative and curatorial museums structures. A bot through which material objects of other cultures in museums of the Global North will start speaking for themselves shaking off the violent and ugly colonial patina by deconstructing the fiction inherent in institutional narratives and challenging the politics of representation. With the development of the Nefertiti AI & avatar (based on 3D data #Nefertitihack), the artists are asking unsettling questions about the state of humanity and discuss the agency of inanimate things and post humanism, challenging the way of seeing the world human-centric.

Nora Al-Badri & Jan Nikolai Nelles, NefertitiBot, »An AI Summer«, 2017

»24Hour Host« by Lauren McCarthy

The 24HOUR HOST performance is a small party that lasts for 24 hours, driven by software that automates the event, embodied in human HOST. Every 5 mins, a new guest arrives and an other one leaves. Each guest is analyzed and led by the HOST through a series of customized interactions throughout the duration of the party. Over the course of 24 hours, the HOST becomes increasingly depleted, but the software system drives her to continue, as the guests endlessly cycle through… The outcome of this work, in addition to the performance itself, will be an open source version of the software system developed for the HOST.

Lauren McCarthy, 24Hour Host, »An AI Summer«, 2017

»Deep Unlearning« by Sascha Pohflepp & Chris Woebken

To order to prepare for a world of unhuman knowledge, in a playful-yet-serious inversion the artists propose a process of Deep Unlearning for humans. An effort to self-alienate in order to gain a tiny measure of access to the ways of the not-us.
An open-ended series of playful algorithmic exercises will be developed, phrased in an almost Fluxus-like fashion, executed and documented over the course of the residency and beyond.
They will take on different interfacial configurations, ranging from human-nature/nature-human, to human-human and ultimately human-machine/machine-human.

Sascha Pohflepp & Chris Woebken, Deep Unlearning, »An AI Summer«, 2017

Nora O Murchú

Nora O Murchú is a curator and designer based in Ireland. Her practice engages with fictions and narratives to explore how complex sociotechnical systems are imagined, built, and used. She has held positions as a research associate for the Interaction Design Centre at the University of Limerick, the Interaction Research Studio at Goldsmiths, and CRUMB at the University of Sunderland. She has curated exhibitions and events for institutions including the Science Gallery, Rua Red, Resonate Festival, Transfer Gallery and White Box Gallery. She is currently a lecturer in Interaction Design at the University of Limerick in Ireland.

Nora Al-Badri

Berlin-based multidisciplinary artists Nora Al-Badri and Nikolai Nelles have worked together since 2009. Their artistic practice encompasses visual art, documentary filmmaking and cultural activism. Their work addresses hegemonic and neo-colonial power structures and representations of the Global North and South, reflecting on the absurdity of the human condition. The pair stage interventions to challenge social infrastructures and institutions through civil disobedience, and pursue a critical re-evaluation of the cultural commons.

Nikolai Nelles

Berlin-based multidisciplinary artists Nora Al-Badri and Nikolai Nelles have worked together since 2009. Their artistic practice encompasses visual art, documentary filmmaking and cultural activism. Their work addresses hegemonic and neo-colonial power structures and representations of the Global North and South, reflecting on the absurdity of the human condition. The pair stage interventions to challenge social infrastructures and institutions through civil disobedience, and pursue a critical re-evaluation of the cultural commons.

Lauren McCarthy

Lauren McCarthy is an artist based in LA and Brooklyn whose work explores social and technological systems for being a person and interacting with other people. She makes software, performances, videos, and other things on the internet. She is the creator of p5.js. Lauren has exhibited at Ars Electronica, Conflux Festival, SIGGRAPH, Onassis Cultural Center, IDFA DocLab, and the Japan Media Arts Festival. She is a Sundance Institute Fellow and was previously a resident at CMU STUDIO for Creative Inquiry, Eyebeam, NYU ITP, and Ars Electronica / QUT TRANSMIT³.

Elaine Hoey & Alan Butler

Elaine Hoey works mainly creating interactive based installations, appropriating contemporary digital art practices and aesthetics to explore the politics of digital humanity and our evolving relationship with the screen. Hoey’s work mainly focuses on the intersection between the media, technology and politics.

Alan Butler’s work often conceptually reflects and refracts the inner-workings of the internet, the implications of new media technology, and the politics of appropriation. He received his MFA from LaSalle College of the Arts, Singapore (2009). and BA in Fine Art from the National College of Art and Design, Dublin (2004).

Sascha Pohflepp

Sascha Pohflepp (DE) is an artist and researcher based in Berlin and La Jolla, CA. Sascha’s work has earned two Honorary Mentions from the VIDA Awards and in 2015 was shortlisted for the Berlin Art Prize. For 2017-2018 he was named a fellow of CARTA at UC San Diego.

Chris Woebken

Chris Woebken (DE) is an artist and educator living and working in New York City. Recent activities include a Research Affiliation at the MIT Media Lab, a residency at the Walker Art Center and his work was awarded a NYFA Fellowship in Digital/Electronic Arts in 2017.

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