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Tuesday, August 06, 2019

Last chance to see: AI: More than Human at the Barbican Centre

The Barbican’s major summer exhibition AI: More than Human will finish on 26 August, with two exclusive events happening in its final weeks including a celebration of Jeanette Winterson’s latest novel Frankissstein and a performance by AI virtual popstar Yona.

On 10 August 2019, Jeanette Winterson will visit the Barbican Centre for a day of events focused on her novel Frankissstein, inspired by Mary Shelley’s book of a similar name. Highlights include a dramatic reading of the book, a book club and book signing. Yona, a virtual entertainer created by technology firm Auxuman, will be the guest of honour on 23 August 2019, when she will be giving a multi-media performance. The AI popstar will perform after a discussion between electronic musician Ash Koosha and Auxuman co-founder Negar Shaghaghi.

AI: More than Human tells the rapidly developing story of AI to explore the evolution of the relationship between humans and technology, through some of the most prominent and cutting-edge research projects, including DeepMind, Jigsaw, Massachusetts Institute of Technology Computer Science Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (MIT CSAIL), IBM, Sony Computer Science Laboratories, Google Arts and Culture, Google PAIR, Affectiva, Lichtman Lab at Harvard, Eyewire, Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine, Wyss Institute and Emulate Inc.

The exhibition also presents commissions and projects by, artists, researchers and scientists Memo Akten, Joy Buolamwini, Certain Measures (Andrew Witt & Tobias Nolte), Es Devlin, Justine Emard, Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg, Stefan Hurtig & Detlef Weitz, Hiroshi Ishiguro & Takashi Ikegami, Mario Klingemann, Kode 9, Lawrence Lek, Daito Manabe & Yukiyasu Kamitani, Massive Attack & Mick Grierson, Lauren McCarthy, Yoichi Ochiai, Neri Oxman, Qosmo, Anna Ridler, Chris Salter in collaboration with Sofian Audry, Takashi Ikegami, Alexandre Saunier and Thomas Spier , Sam Twidale and Marija Avramovic, Yuri Suzuki, teamLab and Universal Everything.

In the Curve gallery, the exhibition takes visitors on a journey through the human impulse to create artificial life, asking the big questions: What does it mean to be human? What is consciousness? And how can humans and machines work collaboratively?

Section 1. The Dream of AI

The exhibition charts the human desire to bring the inanimate to life right back to ancient times, from the religious traditions of Shintoism and Judaism to the mystical science of alchemy.

Artist and electronic musician Kode9 presents a newly commissioned audio essay on the golem, a mythical creature from Jewish folklore that has influenced art, literature and film for centuries from Frankenstein to Blade Runner.

Section 2. Mind Machines

This section explains how AI has developed through history from the early innovators who tried to convert rational thought into code, to the creation of the first neural network in the 1940s, which copied the brain’s own processes and developed into machine learning – when an AI is able to learn, respond and improve by itself.

It includes some of the most important figures in AI’s history, from computing pioneers Ada Lovelace and Charles Babbage all the way to DeepMind’s AlphaGo, which became the first computer to defeat a professional in the complex Chinese strategy game Go in 2016.

This section also looks at how AI sees images, understands language and moves, as artificial intelligence developed beyond the brain to the body. Artist Mario Klingemann’s piece Circuit Training invites visitors to take part in teaching a neural network to create a piece of art and Anna Ridler looks at the politics and process of using large datasets to produce a piece of art.

Section 3. Data Worlds

At the heart of the main exhibition in The Curve is Data Worlds. This section examines AI’s capability to improve commerce, change society and enhance our personal lives. It looks at AI’s real-life application in fields such as healthcare, journalism and retail.

Nexus Studios have produced a series of interactive works that demonstrate how AI works. Visitors can opt to be classified by an AI, revealing how the computer interprets their image. Memo Akten presents Learning to See, which allows visitors to manipulate everyday objects to illustrate how a neural network trained on a specific data set can be fooled into seeing the world as a painting.

Data Worlds also addresses important ethical issues such as bias, control, truth and privacy. Scientist, activist and founder of the Algorithmic Justice League, Joy Buolamwini examines racial and gender bias in facial analysis software in her research project Gender Shades.

Section 4. Endless Evolution

This final section of the exhibition looks at the future of our species and envisions the creation of a new species, reflecting on the laws of ‘nature’ and how artificial forms of life fit into this.

Massive Attack’s landmark album Mezzanine, which the band encoded in strands of synthetic DNA in a spraypaint can, is at the centre of a new sound composition, where visitors will be able to affect its sound by their actions and movements.

This section includes Alter 3, created by roboticist Hiroshi Ishiguro and Kohei Ogawa with artificial life researcher Takashi Ikegami and Itsuki Doi. With a body of a bare machine and a genderless, ageless face, Alter learns and matures through an interplay with the surrounding world.

Architect, designer and MIT Professor Neri Oxman presents projects from her research lab, including The Synthetic Apiary , exploring the possibility of a controlled space in which seasonal honeybees can produce honey all year round, and Vespers, a design project tailoring wearables to both the body and the environment which it inhabits.

Resurrecting The Sublime by Christina Agapakis of Ginkgo Bioworks, Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg, and Sissel Tolaas, brings back the smell of flowers made extinct through human activity.

The Pit: teamLab

In the Pit, art collective teamLab will display their interactive digital installation What a Loving and Beautiful World, creating an immersive, ever-changing environment populated with Chinese characters and natural phenomena triggered by visitors.

Level G

A series of new commissions will run across the Barbican’s Level G spaces throughout the exhibition.

Digital art and design collective Universal Everything will take over the Barbican’s main Silk Street entrance hall to create a new installation, Future You, where visitors can interact with an AI version of themselves through large digital avatars that mimic visitors’ movements onscreen.

Chris Salter’s piece Totem is a large-scale, dynamic installation that uses sensing and machine learning to inform its patterns, rhythm and behavior.

Lawrence Lek’s open-world video game 2065 is set in a speculative future with advanced automation. Players are invited to play the role of an AI to imagine what life might be like in future years.

Artist and designer Es Devlin’s PoemPortraits is a social sculpture that brings together art, design, poetry and machine learning. Each visitor will be invited to donate a single word to the piece. This word will be instantly incorporated into a two-line poem generated by an algorithm trained on 20 million words of poetry.

Inspired by Raymond Scott’s Electronium machine, Yuri Suzuki’s Digital Electronium gives visitors the chance to input sounds to create a changing soundscape through AI and algorithms.

Public programme

10 August 2019, Frobisher Auditorium 1
Admission £5
Booker Prize-nominated author Jeanette Winterson will be coming to the Barbican Centre for a day of events including a dramatic reading of Frankissstein as well as a book club and a book signing. Frankissstein, based on Mary Shelley’s novel of a similar name, looks at the ethics of creation in the age of artificial intelligence.

Yona: Introducing a Virtual Popstar
23 August 2019, 18:30, Frobisher Auditorium 1
Admission £10
Produced by Barbican in partnership with Dazed

The Barbican will host one of the world’s first virtual entertainers in a multi-media performance created by technology company Auxuman. Imagined by electronic musician Ash Koosha and artist Isabella Winthrop, Yona was programmed to create her own lyrics, chords and melodies, and produces atmospheric electronic music in accordance with aggregate data of users online. She will perform following a conversation about AI and creativity between Ash and Auxuman co-founder Negar Shaghaghi.

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