JUNGE AKADEMIE: Worlds Make Worlds
What models of the world stand behind the worlds created by automated algorithms? What visions of societies can be coded by AI systems? What role can the arts play in generating aesthetic knowledge for other and global imaginations through processes of speculation and play?
The complex relationship between human and machine has been the subject of art and artistic practice since the beginning of the Industrial Age. In the face of digitalisation, the topic has taken on new meaning worldwide with artificial intelligence, its possibilities and dark sides.
The hybrid panel titled “Worlds Make Worlds” aims to discuss new approaches to the human-machine relationship connecting various disciplines such as technology, religion, philosophy and science. The theoretical and artistic inputs and discussion focus on global and also marginalized perspectives on AI including non-human agents, ancient and contemporary narratives, cosmologies and technologies.
The panel is the second in a series of online and offline events as part of the “Human-Machine” programme by the JUNGE AKADEMIE in cooperation with the VISIT programme by the E.ON foundation, inviting artists, scientists, curators and experts from different fields.
With: Sara Morais Dos Santos Bruss (cultural and media theorist), Meredith Thomas (creative technologist), Sahej Rahal (artist & Human-Machine-fellow of the JUNGE AKADEMIE), Natasha Tontey (artist & Human-Machine-fellow of the JUNGE AKADEMIE), Diana Alina Serbanescu (Weizenbaum Institut, Research Group Lead Criticality of AI-based Systems)
Moderated by Mercedes Bunz (Senior Lecturer in Digital Society at the Department of Digital Humanities, King’s College London)
Dr Mercedes Bunz is Deputy Head of the Department of Digital Humanities and Senior Lecturer in Digital Society at King’s College London. She studied Philosophy, Art History and Media Studies at the FU Berlin and the Bauhaus University Weimar, and wrote her thesis on the history of the internet driven by a deep curiosity about digital technology. Until today, she has not been disappointed by the transforming field that is digital technology, which provides her reliably with new aspects to think constantly about. At the moment, that is Artificial Intelligence and “machine learning”. Mercedes Bunz is heading a research project into “Creative AI” with an AHRC grant and co-leads the Creative AI Lab, a collaboration with the Serpentine Gallery, London. Her last publication is “The Internet of Things” with Graham Meikle and “The calculation of meaning: on the misunderstanding of new artificial intelligence as culture” published in the journal Culture, Theory and Critique.
Natasha Tontey is an artist and graphic designer living and working in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. Her artistic practice predominantly explores the fictional accounts of the history and myths surrounding “manufactured fear”. In her practice, she observes possibilities of other futures projected not from the perspective of major and established institutions but the subtle and personal struggles of outcasted entities and beings. Her work has been shown at transmediale 2021 and Kyoto Experiment 2021 amongst others. In 2020 she received the HASH Award from ZKM and Akademie Schloss-Solitude.
Sahej Rahal is primarily a storyteller. He weaves together fact and fiction to create counter-mythologies, which interrogate narratives that shape the present. This myth-world takes the shape of sculptures, performances, films, paintings, installations, and AI programs, which he creates by drawing on sources ranging from local legends to science fiction. By bringing these into dialogue with each other, Rahal creates scenarios where indeterminate beings emerge from the cracks in our civilization. Rahal has participated in group and solo exhibitions, including the Liverpool Biennial, the Kochi Biennale, the Vancouver Biennale, the MACRO Museum Rome, Kadist SF, ACCA Melbourne and CCA Glasgow. He received the Cove Park/Henry Moore Fellowship, the Akademie Schloss Solitude Fellowship and, most recently, the Sher-Gil Sundaram Arts Foundation Installation Art Grant in 2019.
Meredith Thomas is an artist and creative technologist based in Berlin. He studied biomedical engineering and science communication at Imperial College London. After moving to Berlin, he became interested in creative uses of technology. He has worked to create transmedia experiences in virtual reality, for multimedia installations and for the stage. His work focuses in particular on novel uses of machine learning in creative domains and critiquing the broader technological and cultural manifestations of artificial intelligence.
Sara Morais dos Santos Bruss is a cultural and media theorist, educator and feminist, currently working on a postdoc at TU Dresden. Her main areas of research evolve around feminist epistemologies of science and technology, specifically with a focus on emerging informational systems subsumed under the umbrella term Artificial Intelligence and the mythologies attached to it. Previously, she has worked on digital acts of (feminist-intersectional) solidarity within the DFG-funded RTG Minor Cosmopolitanisms where she received her doctoral degree from the University of Potsdam and the English and Foreign Language University Hyderabad. Sara is a board member of Diffrakt. Zentrum für Theoretische Peripherie, an editor with the editorial collective of kritisch-lesen.de and a research affiliate with the Data Politics Lab.
With a double background in computer science and performing arts, Diana Serbanescu works on interdisciplinary approaches to culture, society and technology, with a strong focus on feminist approaches to knowledge production. As team lead of the group researching the Criticality of Artificial Intelligence she promotes a practice-led and participatory research practice on the topics of bias and explainability in relation to machine learning algorithms and towards revealing inherent symbolic power structures in current technological systems. She also co-founded REPLICA, a performing arts platform inviting creatives and scientists to collaborate on imagining hybrid behavioural models for humans and machines, and to prototype future tools, cultures and rituals. As the artistic director of REPLICA, Diana Serbanescu explores the potential of sentimental machines: the new human, the measurability of emotion, or the continued validity of traditions in an era of artificial intelligence and digital colonisation, when technologies permeate the collective unconscious and generate new aesthetics. In 2019 Diana and REPLICA were awarded with a Small Planning Grant by the Volkswagen Stiftung Foundation for the project The Shape of Things to Come – rehearsing future societies with AI and performing arts.