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video work


Lately, I have been working with sound and video in order to reflect more on the interactiveness of the machine learning system I have been using. I will post more about this in the future as I am doing a lot of different tests right now.

I have been using vocal answers from answers personal assistants gave me as the main input for this new body of work. I am excited to see where this goes!

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Perfection?



What is Perfection? (A Dialogue with Alexa, Siri, Google Assistant and Cortona), 2021.



This semester, I wanted to introduce my work by talking about a broader power-structure dynamic that stigmatizes political bodies under the apparatus of new technologies that are constantly promoting the uniformity and hierarchy of bodies.

The conversation I had with the personal assistants confronted me with a reality I was anticipating. First of all, contemporary technologies won’t properly answer questions that demand complex explanations. Secondly, the answers I got from my interaction with personal assistants only reaffirm the predominance of gender and racial biases.

Having said that, the obsessiveness of contemporary societies with the constructed notion of “perfection” is predominant in every sphere. It is, however, far from being diminished by today’s culture of display. 

“The genealogy of the concept of ‘perfection’ reaches back beyond Latin, to Greek. The Greek equivalent of the Latin ‘perfectus’ was ‘teleos’. The latter Greek expression generally had concrete referents, such as a perfect physician or flutist, a perfect comedy or a perfect social system.”


(Tatarkiewicz, “Perfection: the Term and the Concept,” Dialectics and Humanism, vol. VI, no. 4 (autumn 1979), p. 6.)

While the notion of perfection was extremely paradoxical throughout history, the constant quest for such a perfect social system or perfect being only suggests that humanity should construct a world that would match the idealization of perfection. This foolish desire is now being interpreted and progressively designed by deep learning and machine learning systems.

“In today’s world, with artificial intelligence, deep learning and machine learning all around, honing trillions of data points across a plethora of industries and consumer applications, we face a single issue. That issue is one of perfection – with perfection we have a sense of everything attuned and cultivated towards a wonderland that is beyond rebuke… With perfection we remove choice and freedom of choice, negating that which makes something perfect to us on both an emotional and human level.”

(Julie Stewart, 2019)

The frenetic race toward perfection is a long and dangerous one, and we should ask ourselves whether it is the right path to take considering that artificial intelligence is essentially only built by imperfect beings. I think that ultimately, this new series of images only highlights the imperfection of a computerized ecosystem of knowledge, and the transitional states of artificial intelligence. By forming an evolving visual language that is not understood by the human eye, these images illustrate the limits of such technologies, but also reveal the underlying truth of the digital code.

While glitches operate as agents that reveal underlying pixels and mechanisms behind digital surfaces, they inherently exist as the counterpart of the function. Without the function there would be no glitch in the digital realm. These two phenomenological components thus exist as integrated factors for a potential error. In her Glitch Studies Manifesto, Rosa Menkman introduces this notion of duality and interconnected correlation between the function and the glitch:
 
“Just like Foucault stated that there can be no reason without madness, Gombrich wrote that order does not exist without chaos and Virilio described that there is no technological progression without its inherent accident, I am of the opinion that flow cannot be understood without interruption or functioning without glitching. This is why there is a need for glitch studies.”

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010101



Who has a Perfect Face? (A Dialogue with Alexa, Siri and Google Assistant), 2021.


While gender-biased constructs within new technologies and new media are not at the forefront of my most recent exploration, I am well aware of these underlying issues and wish to articulate them more clearly in the future.

In response to that, this new diptych is in some way articulating more distinctly this idea of getting dualistic answers from the machine (one for man and one for woman). While they seem similar in form, they highlight the binary behavior of contemporary technologies and the biases the answer is providing.
 

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AAA


I think about A.I. as a fluid network of knowledge, like an ecosystem shared between autonomous artificial artists (AAA), and common users in a decentralized machine learning system. The work that I am producing is part of a larger federated system of shared knowledge, data, and models. I am gradually becoming more and more integrated into this community, and I am learning so much through online classes and material accessible to all at: https://ml4a.github.io/classes/
  
 
 With this work, I wanted to stop in time to feed data into the neural network, hereby producing images that would be anchored in the immediacy of the conversation I had with the personal assistants. It is a way for me to press the “stop button”, and to allow a pause in time to gaze at a system in constant movement. These images almost act as proof of the dialogue I had with Technology. They don’t pretend to provide answers for the questions I am asking to A.I., but rather are meant to be seen as a complex system of knowledge re-materialized in a new language of images. They embody the notion of re-interpretation of data disconnected from human understanding. I don’t know to what extent these images are made for us to understand, but it seems that through glitches, compression and alteration generated by the algorithm itself, they tell us about the underlying truth of neural networks and machine learning. I would like to develop this aspect of the work in relationship to Rosa Menkman’s own practice. 
 
 
 As futile as the questions I ask technology may be, the answers provided through History have not been satisfactory. I have been really inspired by Isaac Asimov’s 1956 short story The Last Question, where fundamental questions are asked to the Machine, unable to provide answers for humanity. “INSUFFICIENT DATA FOR MEANINGFUL ANSWER.” I found myself in a similar situation, where the question I am asking is of most relevance in the 21st century, as it has been throughout History. I would like to undertake a more detailed research regarding this idea of “perfection” in art history, then elaborating a relationship with the idea of perfection in the contemporary world. 
  
 The answers I get from Siri, Google, and Alexa (SGI) are made for me (or any user) to consume. I think that ultimately, I am using A.I. to show that there is no answer. I am not interested in the answers that they (SGI) can provide, because these technologies are fundamentally biased, not only racially or socially but also culturally and politically. I think that the gesture of asking such a futile question is in reality asking a series of others: why do we think about perfection? Why do we believe it’s important? Why is perfection at the center of mediated human experiences? Why do we chase perfection, when we don’t even know what it is, or what it means? There are deeper questions underlying these simple ones that call for answering first.
 
The deepdream software and algorithm I am using was originally designed to detect faces and other patterns in images, with the aim of automatically classifying images. However, once trained the network can also be run in reverse, by being asked to adjust the original image slightly so that a given output neuron yields a higher confidence score.
 
 
 The code has been then repurposed into doing something other than surveillance or identity recognition. I’m keen on being part of the conversation on surveillance but I don’t have an angle on it right now. I’m interested in structures of power and how they manifest themselves in networks of images and in our interaction with new technologies. This will be addressed in future. 

 
 
I see the algorithm as a material, just like paint. I want to use that material as a process to produce images. Ultimately, the work is not about the code, which is purely the material I’m applying. The main input I am using right now is computer generated text and images, but eventually I want to work with sound and produce an output other than pure imagery. 
 
 
I’m also inspired by the democratization of new technologies, since it’s becoming a bigger part of our lives and since it is made more and more available. I wasn’t interested in using a niche code, I wanted to talk about what people use and relate to today (personal assistants, social networks, cellphones). It’s not just for academics, I want to broaden the issue. 
 
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New Year / New work

This semester I want to try a different approach to the work I am producing by making it more relatable to the audience, and by also going back to what I love about making images. In the past I have insufficiently tried to jam concept-based images and artistic gestures together in a singular art piece. But I feel that now is a time for me to think about my research as divided between the conceptual research on one side and the material research on the other, with an interest in creating bridges between the two through conversations. 

My process is most definitely based on the subjects I am exploring. I am an advocate for the form allowing the content to exist, but I want to leave more space for artistic gestures to occur while making less decision and intervention in the work. I want to be more of a facilitator of the work that records and captures conversations with the machine.  

For the last few weeks I have been more and more interested in developing my knowledge around Artificial Intelligence, Computer generated images and generative image-based software. I have been taking a few coding classes and look forward to be producing work in that realm.

I have started this semester by asking questions related to the body to personal assistants powered by Artificial Intelligence such as Alexa, Siri and Google Assistant. I am interested in this idea of asking Artificial Intelligence to provide answers about the body precisely because they don’t own a body themselves, but also because Humanity seems to be turning itself more and more to new technologies as systems that support and provide truth. I am interested in challenging this idea in the work. While questions around the notion of the “perfect body” have been repeatedly asked throughout History, I am not necessarily interested in the answer Artificial Intelligence would provide as they just recommend compiled information that has been fed to them. What seems interesting to me is the gesture of asking a question to the machine, but also the re-interpretation of data for a simple question that either does not have an answer or is much too complicated to be formulated by contemporary technology : “What is a perfect body?”

Maybe the question is more relevant than the answer itself and the act of asking such a question holds more meaning.


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Printing Beauty

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Intestine

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GodChild

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Shrine to the Network

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.JPEG

These are the latest images I have been producing using different rendering techniques and algorithms to create profiles that aim to reveal the artifices of the digital image. I intend to make a connection between the data and metadata of an image that embodies the glitches of the corporeal presence on social media platforms. While users fabricate their own portrait/persona, the digital image is in itself a transparent vehicle for a constructed truth. Both the form and the content disguise themselves in a cloaked culture to simulate a digital costume.