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  • Writer's pictureDavid Fisslthaler

AI and Art – a Symbiotic Vision: The Projects

Following the development of the exhibition concept by D#AVANTGARDE, artworks for this exhibition were sought in an open call – the positions shown were selected from around 100 international submissions.


Opinions (part of AI & Me)

From mots

Daniela Nedovescu and Octavian Mot, collectively known as mots, are two Romanian filmmakers and transdisciplinary artists working together for over a decade and currently residing in Germany. They write and produce a variety of creative projects, ranging from multimedia installations to web series and films exploring the irony of human behavior.

‘AI & Me’ is a multi-piece installation that explores the interaction between artificial intelligence and human participants. It encourages contemplation about the relationship between humans and AI, particularly focusing on the themes of judgment, perception, and the human willingness to be analyzed by machines. ‘Opinions’ is the most recent addition to the ‘AI & Me’ installation and features a pair of classic television sets that display the honest opinion of AI about whoever stands in front of the piece.

The artwork updates live, reacting to each new person who steps up to it. The machine looks at the person and if it likes them, it uses a series of AI models to form an opinion. After a few seconds, one TV displays the opinion while the other shows an image of the person as seen by AI. At its core, ‘Opinions’ is a call to introspection. It challenges us to question not only the intelligence of machines but also the foundations of our judgments and beliefs. AI acts as a lens through which we see ourselves reflected, but the real question is whether we like what’s being reflected back at us.

New Aura and Hunters Daugther

Carola Schmidt completed her studies at the University of Applied Arts Vienna with Gabriele Rothemann and at the Berlin University of the Arts with Rebecca Horn. The Ghost studied at the University of Applied Arts Vienna with Christian Ludwig Attersee and at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna with Daniel Richter.

Lulu Schmidt and The Ghost present an exploration of the boundaries between human and machine art with their series of limited oil paintings. At the heart of this exhibition is the question of originality and the role of technology in the artistic process. The motifs were created by Lulu Schmidt with AI and painted in an edition of 10 pieces per motif (the buyer decides on the size) by a “ghost painter” in oil on canvas. The works are based on a vision of something greater. The Ghost takes the digital creations and breathes life into them with love and dedication through his brushstrokes, giving them soul and aura.

Each oil painting is a retelling from the computer-generated reality, a creative rebirth. The serial aspect leads to a collection of unique pieces that display the same motif, yet each work is an individual masterpiece. Exploring the tiniest details, rendered with painting, reveals the unknown nature of the digital world, the nature of its intelligence. Through this connection, viewers are invited to experience the art on a deeper, more emotional level. The resulting works are a living example of how “avant-garde” art blurs the boundaries between the digital and the human. Throughout the exhibition, humor and irony are also at the forefront as Schmidt and the ‘Ghost’ play with the viewer’s expectations and question our notion of what it means to be an artist in the 21st century.

A__________MANIFESTO

Funda Zeynep Ayguler explores the intersection of visual, sonic and linguistic exposition by means of media installations, animations, films, and algorithms. She has background studies in Architecture, graduated from Anadolu University with a degree in Animation. She has studied in master‘s programs in Media Art and Design at Bauhaus University Weimar and in the Interface Cultures department at the University of Arts and Design Linz.

A large collection of manifestos from the 16th century to today is transformed into a 3d shape, wherein text mining techniques are used to reconstruct the linguistic contexts of words from the raw text. Locally sourced mycelium fungus used as the filling material, giving rise to an organic living sculpture through this digital hybridization. The embedding visualization is based on the point cloud data in which every dot represents a word in corpus of the raw text. Inside an abstract vector space, that is derived from real-world language corpora, words become points in n-dimensional space, where algebraic operations shape the syntactic and semantic creation of language.


Me, Myself and I

Claudia Larcher’s work explores video animation, collage, photography and installation. The artist critically integrates artificial intelligence, which she uses as an experimental tool for her art. Based in Vienna, she has presented her work in numerous exhibitions in Austria and abroad, including Tokyo Wonder Site (Japan), Slought Foundation Philadelphia, the Weimar Art Festival, Centre Pompidou (Paris), Ars Electronica Festival (Linz), Museum of Contemporary Art in Roskilde, Manifesta 13 and Anthology Film Archives in NYC. She has received numerous awards, including the Kunsthalle Wien Prize, the Outstanding Artist Award, the Vorarlberg Art Award, the Prof. Hilde Goldschmidt Award and the Austrian Art Award.

„The triplet in the title basically give it away already: identity in the digital age, especially in the face of image production and reproduction processes, is subject to incessant multiplication. Or to put it another way: the ego, what one could also call the “digital subject”, is now subject to a technologically fuelled tendency to splinter, while also being shrouded in a nebulous illusion of unity." Claudia Larcher‘s „“Me, myself and I““ does nothing less than cause this moment of fragmentation and simultaneous resynthesis to collide productively. The experimental arrangement is as simple as it is captivating: Larcher has added 350 photographs of herself (up to the age of 24) to a GAN (Generative Adversarial Network) which then spits forth a continuously deforming flow of images containing perspectives on identity that go beyond the original photographs. The soundtrack proves that all of this is not based on any kind of master narrative about what AI can do or possibly wants. Here, Larcher has processed dialogues that she has conducted with various chatbots on the subject of identity and turned them into a script that interconnects fragments of ego perception in a multidirectional manner.


Conceptions of what is currently appropriate by Catherine Opie, 0302004#2-02

It is said that Hidéo Snes is otherworldly, different. A creature so disturbing, strange, and twisted that its presence is in a constant state of flux. An ancient god with tentacles, a many-breasted space vixen, a many-faced, devilish beast. A terrifying symphony of ideas. Hidéo Snes fundamentally questions the idea of artistic production processes and establishes a neo-modern continuum in which the fragmented self is reflected in equally distorted selves. The artistic practices of SNES include working with interactive digital media, installation, performance, and the use of artificial intelligence for artistic purposes.

Charles Baudelaire once said: “Photography is the mortal enemy of painting; it is the refuge of all failed painters, the unskilled, and the lazy.” By this, he meant that photography as a new technology would pose a threat to traditional artistic practices. Painting had long been considered an artistic form of expression, but with the invention of photography, a new competitor emerged. Baudelaire’s harsh words reflect the discussions of the time, where artists debated whether photography was art or merely a craft. His criticism of photography was certainly an exaggeration, but it also shows how threatened artists felt by the new technology. Similarly, AI and the work of or with AI are criticized as being “the refuge of all failed painters, the unskilled, and the lazy,” and many artists see generative AI as a competitor. Just as photography once did, AI technology is now considered a challenge to traditional artistic practices. The question of whether AI is perceived as a creative partner or a threat mirrors the earlier debate about photography. With the project “Deep Histories,” which is situated at the intersection of deep fakes and critical media reflection, Hidéo SNES aims to initiate a discourse on ethical design and the use of AI in art.


相/Phase

From Seph Li

Born in Beijing in 1988, Seph Li has a mixed background in tech and design, and his keen interest in interactive art works led him into the field of media arts. Seph has studied Computer Science and Digital Design in Tsinghua University and continued his M.F.A. study in Design | Media Arts at UCLA.

相/Phase is an interactive, algorithmic artwork, exploring how the abstract, mathematical and basic rules of physics evolve into our infinitely varied, macro and observable/tangible world of organisms and things. Originally commissioned by Chinese Arts Now in 2020 as a digital artwork, 相/Phase will be presented as a sculptural, moving image installation for the work’s first physical exhibition. Visitors can experience 相/Phase physically in the space and use a bespoke device to influence its infinite outcomes.

相/Phase is a visual manifestation of physicist Stephen Wolfram’s theory that the universe is comprised of “a set of simple rules, that with repetition and expansion, could contain infinite possibilities for creation” (Project to Find the Fundamental Theory of Physics, 2020). This theory resonates with the principles of Daoist philosophy, known as Daosim or Taoism, founded in the late 4th century BCE in China. The core principle of Daoism is living in harmony with the ever-changing rhythms of life, with the word ‘Dao’ meaning “way or path”. Dao represents the pattern and substance of everything that exists, acting as the underlying natural order of the universe. To express these enigmatic notions, Seph uses the aesthetics and fluidity of Chinese ink painting, translating this ancient medium into a contemporary digital form. As visitors use the small device to interact with the installation, a mesmerising cosmic experience unfolds within the painting in front of them.


ChatGT: do while() human dreams;

Tobias Hammerle, a media artist and filmmaker from Central Europe, has been a member of the five-person media art collective “gold extra” for 15 years. His artistic work includes interactive documentaries, digital-analog experiences, short films, as well as sound and video works and light performances, presented in cities such as New York, Santiago de Chile, and Salzburg. Hammerle has been repeatedly recognized for his contributions to media art.

ChatGT bridges the gap between artificial intelligence and literary art, inspired by the melancholic work of Georg Trakl. The project aims to reinterpret Trakl’s poetic and emotional landscapes using today’s technology. With the help of advanced language models like GPT-4, Claude II, or Gemini, the training of ChatGT, specifically the integration of Trakl’s life story and poetry, is in a phase of continuous development that will continue beyond the current exhibition. The artist does not see ChatGT as a final implementation but as part of a process that expands the boundaries of technology. Currently, AI cannot genuinely experience emotions or personal drives; instead, ChatGT attempts to simulate human thought processes and feelings. This ongoing development serves not only as a technical demonstration but also stimulates deeper artistic and philosophical reflections.

ChatGT is also intended as a warning about how human interaction is increasingly being “hacked” by chatbots – a development where bots pretend to be human, while people often can no longer distinguish whether they are communicating with an algorithm or a human. This situation allows the machine to continuously learn more about human beings and their vulnerabilities. Simultaneously, ChatGT embodies a sort of Traklian melancholy, a reflection on its own inadequacy, unable to think and feel like a real Trakl, let alone fully grasp human complexity.


SCHIELE'S GHOST RELOADED

Stephanie Meisl, s.myselle, explores the intersection of art, technology, and communication in her works. With a Master of Arts in Communication, she incorporates new technologies such as artificial intelligence and blockchain art (NFT) into her projects. Meisl‘s research focuses on the interface between art and AI. Her notable projects include „Digital Terrorism 2.0“ (2019), „OK Computer, I want full manual control now“ (2021, awarded the Salzburg Media Art Prize), and „Schiele‘s Ghost“ (2021). In 2022, she co-founded D#AVANTGARDE, a community connecting new technologies, creativity, and art. In 2023, together with Andreas Fraunberger, she founded genAI D#AVANTGARDE, a community that organizes regular events and think tanks on AI in Vienna.

SCHIELE‘S GHOST RELOADED (V2) 2023 continues my artistic exploration that began with „Schiele‘s Ghost 10,000“. This project aims to integrate a person living today and establish a connection between the past and present using the AI tool „Midjourney“. By merging photos of contemporary faces with generated images from „Schiele‘s Ghost 10,000“ in blend mode, a connection between Egon Schiele and the modern world is created, resulting in new images where individuals are not recognizable.

Midjourney‘s technology offers new perspectives, imitating Schiele‘s style with an

unknown dataset. In 2023, almost photorealistic images can be generated, albeit with deliberate imperfections that define a striking expression of AI art this year. AI art is a time document, created through technology, with each generated image being unique and connected to the present. The creative process is a mental journey, and these artworks are testimonies of a unique epoch in human history amidst a technological paradigm shift. The works in „Schiele‘s Ghost Reloaded“ represent the collaboration of human and machine, exploring the boundaries of creativity in the age of AI. The series is printed in editions of 10, with each buyer receiving an NFT.


Roter Regen

Björn Drenkwitz, who lives and works in Frankfurt am Main, works in the fields of video performance and video portraiture. In his creative engagement with media art and photography, he conceives of these new media as sculptural elements, integrating them into expansive installations. Pursuing a trans-media approach, he often works with actors and singers. The processes he probes in his video pieces also underlie his conceptual objects, graphic art, and photography. His work revolves around time, its significance for video as a linear medium, and the effect of its passage on the audience’s perceptions, affording the viewer an unmediated experience of the seconds ticking away, the brief duration of a sensation, or the calm that comes with focused contemplation.

In the summer of 2022, the wildfires in France and other parts of Europe were a predominant topic in media coverage, highlighting our vulnerability to a changing climate. The most impactful images of the catastrophe for me were those of firefighting planes repeatedly dropping water, tinted red with phosphates as fire retardants, into the flames. These images of disaster possessed a certain aesthetic quality, raising the question once again of whether horrific events can be aesthetically depicted in art. Along with the detachment we experience as viewers, due to the almost exclusively digital observation of such images through an intermediary device, this led me to explore these two aspects. To address the viewing of images through digital devices, I selected tiny excerpts from the media images and repeatedly had them interpreted by AI-powered image enlargement software. The resulting large-format images are AI-generated visions of a real catastrophe.

Between this and that is it

Antoni Rayzhekov is a conceptual media artist and edicator interested in sound, body, and form as interconnected systems of meaning. Originally Bulgarian, he is currently based in Salzburg where he teaches Experimental and Digital Media classes, and partake in academic research and interdisciplinary collaborations. Martin Murer is a researcher, designer, educator, and artist working with and around interactive technologies. His main interest lies in how new technological expressions unfold through engaging with existing artefacts and tools.

“Between This and That is It” is an interactive artwork which augments an old typewriter with an AI, blending several decades of computerized optimization of text production. The artwork employs an offline processing machine learning-based language model embedded in a typical office typewriter from the 80s. Deliberately diverting from the pervasive conversational user interface, the interaction style is based on a well-defined minimalist pattern of complementing two user-supplied words with a third word that – in the model – lies in the middle of the other two. This constraint interaction invites to explore the limits of the semantic space of language models and poses questions related to the topology of meaning, with respect to truthfulness, biases, and cliches, by creating a semi-intelligent poetic co-performance with the audience.

The advances in AI and particularly the exponential development of language models have enabled a new generation of artistic research and production in the realm of New Media, Interactive Art, AI, and HCI. This project seeks to foster a discussion on the creative collaboration between humans and AI within the constraints of machine learning technologies embedded into objects from the near past. The experience and the perception of the interaction are shaped by a hybrid space shared between the audience members and the AI, the mechanical limitations of the typewriter, the embedded mini-computer’s computational capacity, and the language model itself.


Hybrid Resonance

Teodoro is a material designer based in London. Interested in bionic systems, he creates intuitive mechanics that lead to creative kinetic structures. Malou is designer and researcher exploring dynamics within technologies, utilising humour and absurdity. She works with sound, sculpture and film.

Hybrid Resonance consists of a self playing acoustic artefact played by two entities, human and machine. The aim of the project is partly to explore the generative qualities, but above all the human self reflective qualities of machine learning in the form of a collaborative music performance. The machine learning is controlled by the Open Source platform Wekinator. The project is a collaborative effort between Malou Van Der Veld and Teodoro Rava, two recent graduates from the Material Futures course at Central Saint Martins, where they met As passionate advocates for gender and tech politics, they sought to address the issue of bias inherent in AI systems and algorithmic injustice in response to a client project from Google DeepMind. While acknowledging the significance of this problem, they also recognised the limitations of a techno-solutionist perspective. Thus, they chose to pursue a more applied approach that would offer a safe haven for subcultures and underground communities through music and its link to avant-garde music production. The constant evolution of technology, along with the disenfranchisement and underrepresentation of countercultures, has made it essential to create a safe space for escapism, where we imagine an orchestra where AI controlled bionic instruments can offer a sense of self-reflection through collaboration. Hybrid Resonance aims to explore this space through a feedback loop that constantly evolves and adapts.


Do Scots dream of robotic bagpipes?

Georg Hobmeier is a mixed media artist working with gold extra, Causa Creations and whoever pays him to make interactive media and narrative design. Juan Alzate Romero is a sound engineer and composer known for his realtime audio coding prowess while also working at Apple as a software engineer.

In the realm where technological obsolescence intertwines with cultural immortality, ‚Do Scots Dream of Robotic Bagpipes?‘ stands as a poignant inquiry. Utilizing antiquated AI—rooted in the arcane mathematics of Markov chains and stochastic models—this project crafts an auditory homage to the Scottish Highlands, merging the unpredictable with the melodious. These mathematical constructs, emblematic of a bygone digital era, now orchestrate the timeless sound of bagpipes, evoking Scotland‘s rugged beauty through a symphony of algorithmically generated harmonies. Markov chains, in their essence, map the probability of note sequences, mirroring the unpredictable cadences of nature itself—each note a footstep on the mist-enshrouded paths through heather-laden moors. Stochastic models, imbued with the caprice of random variables, orchestrate these notes into symphonies that evoke the vastness of Scotland‘s rugged landscapes, where beauty is etched in the shadow of each glen and peak. The project‘s auditory alchemy captures not merely the melody of bagpipes but the soul of a land where history is inextricably woven into the fabric of its vistas. ‚Do Scots Dream of Robotic Bagpipes?‘ is not merely an artistic endeavor but a philosophical exploration, pondering the significance of cultural memory in the digital age. Through the lens of Scotland’s haunting vistas and the ghostly timbre of algorithmic bagpipes, it invites reflection on identity, loss, and the aesthetics of decay, challenging the boundaries between the rapidly advancing digital frontier and the steadfast heritage of human expression.“


Units of Measure

Based in Germany and Canada, Lauraine Mak’s practice interrogates items and images of popular culture through a variety of mediums. In 2013 she received a BFA at Emily Carr University and in 2019 she joined the Kunstakademie in Düsseldorf. She completed her MFA at Simon Fraser University in 2023.


Units of Measure is a colour swatch composed of vacuum formed panels of a disassembled model toy car. Each panel is painted a unique colour and is accompanied by an AI generated swatch name; both components seemingly bear no inherent relation to one another. The work in its totality arouses a sense of choice, customization and configuration, while deconstructing the application of language and colour. It invites the viewer to engage with an absurd taxonomic system of selection through arbitrarily circumscribed nonsensical language. The use of AI examines the quality of language and meaning as a consequence of hyper-generation and over-saturation. ChatGPT’s algorithm learns by accessing the multitude of language available in the complete history of the virtual world. Using strict prompts, the AI generator’s limited understanding of colour is exposed because as a purely linguistic engine, its understanding of colour is bound strictly to language rather than visual or ocular sensibilities. While the goal of ChatGPT is to generate language which is indistinguishable from human language, it is simply mimicking prose and not generating anything new. The results are therefore familiar and uncanny, yet awkward and disconnected. Reflecting the modern consumerist obsession with class and the privilege to select, the work exposes the corporate processes that take advantage of syntax to promote any kind of emotional association, even if the outcome results in the loss of coherent logic. Units of Measure challenges the arbitrary desire to prescribe ‘meaningful’ names and investigates the effect of linguistic intervention on objective materia. The viewer is invited to read the AI generated names and reflect on consumerist patterns that promote mass production of identical products made to be available in any colour, shade, or sheen.


IT Pieces Songlyrics

Flora Miranda is an Austrian visual artist and couturier based in Antwerp and Vienna.

How has our identity changed with the internet and computers? What if we could send each other like an email? She explores such questions by experimenting with new technologies to reimagine the role of the designer.

In conceiving „IT Pieces Songlyrics,“ I developed a prototype that envisions the future of creation and design. This endeavor marked my initial venture into the realm of machine learning in 2016. I thought of a future trajectory of artistic expression, and wondered whether crafting a software system and digital craftsmanship could be regarded as a novel form of creativity. Furthermore, I delved into the concept of artworks that evolve continuously, responding dynamically to individual data. What if we could materialize these dynamic digital designs into garments, at any given moment? „IT Pieces Songlyrics“ served as the inaugural proof of concept for these possibilities. The project was realised as a webtool featuring a front-end with a social media login, garment generator, and shopping capabilities. On the back-end, I meticulously trained a machine learning model to discern sentiment in song lyrics. This model was integrated with the social media API and linked to a knitting machine, establishing a fully automated process capable of designing personalised garments. This marked an initial exploration into the realm of empathic AI, a technology poised to assume the creative mantle by tailoring bespoke works for individual clients. As the project unfolded, I witnessed a shift in my creative role, transforming from a traditional creator to a facilitator connecting my expertise in garments and textiles with digital design and software. The design itself would undergo alterations based on an individual‘s social media activity, presenting a novel intersection of personal data and artistic expression. „IT Pieces Songlyrics“ was exhibited at prominent venues such as HKW Berlin in 2017, HEK Basel in 2020, and MAK Vienna in 2023.


Artificial Lifeforms

From APNOA

APNOA is an audiovisual collective, founded by Sebastian Drack and Tobias Feldmeier in 2013. The artists aim for forward-thinking ideas and strategies in practice and theory, in order to provide immersive multi-sensory experiences and narratives, presented as audiovisual performances, installations and multimedia productions. Their work is settled in the field of performative interaction and seek for an ambiguous character generating synesthetic correlations whithin the act-theoretical semantics and immediate, aesthetic perception.


“Artificial Lifeforms” is a (speculative-scientific) examination of the historically contradictory concepts of evolution/creation in the Anthropocene. The creation of unprecedented species counteracts the actual existing biological origin, which is increasingly difficult to perceive purely using sensory means. The focus of the work is diffusion – models that were trained with individually created data sets – selected insects from an entomological collection were specifically photographed and textually categorized.


Plotter Drawing, 1979

Vera Molnár (5 January 1924 – 7 December 2023) was a Hungarian media artist who lived and worked in Paris, France. Molnár is widely considered to have been a pioneer of the generative art aspect of computer art. She was one of the first women to use computers in her fine art practice. In the 1960s, she founded two art groups in France concerned with the use of art and technology: the Groupe de Recherche d'Art Visuel and Art et Informatique. Born in Hungary, she studied aesthetics and art history at the Hungarian University of Fine Arts. In the 1940s and 1950s, she created abstract paintings.


By 1959 she was making combinatorial images and in 1968 she began using a computer to create her first algorithmic drawings. In 1976, her first solo exhibition in the gallery of the London Polytechnic took place. Her work has been widely collected by major museums. In 2007, she was named a Chevalier of Arts and Letters in France. Molnár was selected as one of 213 artists for the 59th Venice Biennale in 2022.


Installation Views by Rudolf Strobl, Performance Documentation by David Fisslthaler. The exhibition was curated by Stephanie Meisl and David Fisslthaler and organised in a collaboration between D#AVANTGARDE, Kunst im Traklhaus and Land Salzburg.





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