Thursday, October 25, 2018

Duchamps of the 21st-century

Obvious Art
Edmond de Belamy, from La Famille de Belamy

Three French students tweaked a GAN (generative adversarial network) algorithm derived from open source to produce an array of images. Then inkjet-printed to canvas and auctioned off one for $432,500 to an anonymous buyer. I mean—talk about turning water to wine—Jesus. The story behind this piece is all over the place.


Tuesday, June 06, 2017

Who’s the Muse?

Mario Klingman and Albert Barqué-Duran
My Artificial Muse

Klingermann used a stick figure modeled on Ophelia, then artist Albert Barqué-Duran painted the composite into a fresco.

From my perspective, the interesting part of these kinds of works is the constant role-switching and the question of who is pulling whose strings? The artist designs the experiment, then curates the image based on whatever message they’re trying to communicate. Up until this point, the machine might be considered the muse and the artist is in control. However, when the time comes to execute the artifact, it really begs the question of who’s the artist and who’s the muse. Who’s in control or does it matter?

By the way, the end result was supercool!


My Artificial Muse – THE AFTERMOVIE (Sónar+D 2017)

How can contemporary research, technology and art help us to see the classical artistic heritage with new eyes? "Muses" were the inspirational goddesses of literature, science, and the arts in Greek mythology. Can a computationally-generated Muse be as inspiring as a human-like one? By destroying the classic concept of a Muse, are we creating something more powerful? “My Artificial Muse” is a performance, which was Premièred at Sónar+D (Barcelona) and now on a World Tour, exploring how Artificial Intelligence can collaborate with humans in the creative and artistic processes. It is a disruptive project at the interface of art, science and technology. The human artist Albert Barqué-Duran performs a live-painting show using oil paintings, reproducing an artwork completely designed by an artificial neural network conceived by Mario Klingemann. Also, the artificial intelligent machine performs a mapping visual show on how it generates new paintings and showcases the computational creativity processes behind it. A generative soundtrack, produced by Marc Marzenit, is live-ensembled through a series of embodied sensors that follow the movements of the artist during the performance. This music set aims to immerse the audience in the development of the narrative. Each performance is unique. A new artificial muse computationally-created. A new classical muse live-painted. A new music set live-ensembled.

—Albert Barqué-Duran

Monday, December 12, 2016

Empathy for robots

Sun Yuan and Peng Yu
Can’t Help Myself

Sun Yuan and Peng Yu

What is it about watching robots do their work that’s so soothing and disturbing at the same time? Even though this machine doesn’t look like a humanoid, I see the pointless work it’s doing and can identify with it. There’s a shared experience through action and behavior.

I also get the impression this robot is embarrassed or ashamed. Maybe it spilled or killed something and it’s desperately trying to clean up the mess or evidence. There really is a sweet feeling in the futility of this robot trying to clean up the mess.

I was mesmerized when I first saw this clip—would love to see it close up. Brilliant piece of work.


Sun Yuan and Peng Yu: Can’t Help Myself


In this work commissioned for the Guggenheim Museum, Sun Yuan & Peng Yu employ an industrial robot, visual-recognition sensors, and software systems to examine our increasingly automated global reality, one in which territories are controlled mechanically and the relationship between people and machines is rapidly changing. Placed behind clear acrylic walls, their robot has one specific duty, to contain a viscous, deep-red liquid within a predetermined area. When the sensors detect that the fluid has strayed too far, the arm frenetically shovels it back into place, leaving smudges on the ground and splashes on the surrounding walls. The idea to use a robot came from the artists’ initial wish to test what could possibly replace an artist’s will in making a work and how could they do so with a machine. They modified a robotic arm, one often seen on production lines such as those in car manufacturing, by installing a custom-designed shovel to its front. Collaborating with two robotics engineers, Sun Yuan & Peng Yu designed a series of thirty-two movements for machine to perform. Their names for these movements, such as “scratch an itch,” “bow and shake,” and “ass shake,” reflect the artists’ intention to animate a machine. Observed from the cage-like acrylic partitions that isolate it in the gallery space, the machine seems to acquire consciousness and metamorphose into a life-form that has been captured and confined in the space. At the same time, for viewers the potentially eerie satisfaction of watching the robot’s continuous action elicits a sense of voyeurism and excitement, as opposed to thrills or suspense. In this case, who is more vulnerable: the human who built the machine or the machine who is controlled by a human? Sun Yuan & Peng Yu are known for using dark humor to address contentious topics, and the robot’s endless, repetitive dance presents an absurd, Sisyphean view of contemporary issues surrounding migration and sovereignty. However, the bloodstain-like marks that accumulate around it evoke the violence that results from surveilling and guarding border zones. Such visceral associations call attention to the consequences of authoritarianism guided by certain political agendas that seek to draw more borders between places and cultures and to the increasing use of technology to monitor our environment.

—Xiaoyu Weng

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