Unconventional classifiers and anti-social machine intelligences. Artists creating spaces of contestation and sensibilities of difference across human-machine networks

transcript Verlag
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Digital Culture and Society, 2018, 4 (1/2018 - Rethinking AI: Neural Networks, Biometrics and the New Artificial Intelligence), pp. 227 - 238
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Artificial intelligence technologies and data structures required for training have become more accessible in recent years and this has enabled artists to incorporate these technologies into their works to various ends. This paper is concerned with the ways in which present day artists are engaging with artificial intelligence, specifically material practices that endeavor to use these technologies and their potential non-human agencies as collaborators with differential objectives to commercial fields. The intentions behind artists’ use of artificial intelligence is varied. Many works, with the accelerating assimilation of artificial intelligence technologies into everyday life, follow a critical path. Such as attempting to unveil how artificial intelligence materially works and is embodied, or to critically work through the potential future adoptions of artificial intelligence technologies into everyday life. However, I diverge from unpacking the criticality of these works and instead follow the suggestion of Bruno Latour to consider their composition. As for Latour, critique implies the capacity to discover a ‘truer’ understanding of reality, whereas composition addresses immanence, how things come together and the emergence of experience. Central to this paper are works that seek to collaborate with artificial intelligence, and to use it to drift out of rather than to affirm or mimic human agency. This goes beyond techniques such as ‘style transfer’ which is seen to support and encode existing human biases or patterns in data. Collaboration with signifies a recognition of a wider field of what constitutes the activity of artistic composition beyond being a singularly human, or AI, act, where composition can be situated in a system. This paper will look at how this approach allows an artist to consider the emerging materiality of a system which they are composing, its resistances and potentials, and the possibilities afforded by the exchange between human and machine intentions in co-composition
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