AI in 2018 – what of 2019?


During the Autumn term of my MA last year I chose a topic for a ‘PechaKucha’[1] style presentation – Artificial Intelligence and Art. My focus – art that has in some way used AI. Although the use of AI in art is an interesting area to explore, there is far more change and impact caused by AI on the world, which may have its own impact on art. Art combined with AI is still of course, of great interest to me and my fellow students but I now feel the focus was too narrow.

The exponential developments in AI are causing vast changes in our world, some for good, some not.

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Berlin 1989-90

January 1990. I drove the red Sierra 2.0GL back to the Maidenhead office for the last time. After I had spent six months of coaxing ICI France to equip their sales force with our software; many nights of my translating and compiling proposals in French, we won the business. None of the sales team could do this, including my boss. It was also the only sale they made in 1989, the company results were not looking good, in spite of ICI. This was less than the parent company were hoping for. My disagreeable boss unfortunately suffered from type I diabetes, he often took breaks to inject himself. We just did not get on, this was made worse by his eccentric hypoglycaemic mood swings. I was out of a job – with a generous payoff to see me into the new year.

The evening news showed images of ecstatic young Germans straddling the concrete wall dividing the city. The Berlin wall was down.

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Images of the World and Prison Images

— Surveillance / Harun Farocki

Preface:

On a personal note: my French grandfather, Charles Tricon was held by the Gestapo in 1942 during the German occupation of Greece. They tortured him to get him to reveal the whereabouts of my Uncle Arthur who went missing aged 16, assisting the British navy. My grandfather was blinded by the Nazis in these torture sessions. I remember him fondly as a child, sitting next to the radio in his canvas chair, unable to see.

It was suggested that I watch Harun Farocki’s film, Images of the World and the Inscription of War as it would be important to follow up on, for I am researching into the theme of surveillance with greater scrutiny, my object, to prepare this as a topic for a forthcoming essay.

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Ideas As My Maps

With no feelings of guilt, I find it useful to trawl back to a few memories, I feel I have skipped 30-40 years and am returning to a freer state of mind recently. I feel these earlier days are useful to mine. In the words of Dylan in My Back Pages;

We exchanged s Crimson flames tied through my ears
Rollin’ high and mighty traps
Pounced with fire on flaming roads
Using ideas as my maps
“We’ll meet on edges, soon,” said I
Proud ‘neath heated brow.
Ah, but I was so much older then,
I’m younger than that now.

Half-wracked prejudice leaped forth
“Rip down all hate,” I screamed
Lies that life is black and white
Spoke from my skull I dreamed
Romantic facts of musketeers
Foundationed deep, somehow.
Ah, but I was so much older then,
I’m younger than that now.

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Work in Progress Popup

Just before Christmas 2018 my fellow Computational Art MFA students at Goldsmiths, myself included, held a pop-up exhibition in New Cross High Street.

13 of us exhibited, to mark our work in progress. My interest is in surveillance, combined with an interest in breathing new life into obsolete equipment and changing their original functionality.

 

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Videx VX Entryphone

Videx VX Intercom

This little item turned up when the system at my place was upgraded. The item was fitted around 2001 and unusually, it has a rather odd mini CRT (Cathode ray tube) bent at 90 degrees insed the unit. High voltage apart, it delivers a soft indistinct alalogue image, blurry – possibly due to it being out of adjustment!

The opportunity to use this as part of an installation is seductive. Three buttons (to release gate, activate screen and to speak) and a the button on the handset cradle will all be nice interactive elements. Continue reading “Videx VX Entryphone”