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ART-AI Festival wins innovation award

A festival which puts the art into artificial intelligence has been named the best innovation in the city’s creative sector.
The inaugural ART-AI Festival brought world-leading artists to Leicester and involved local schools to demystify sometimes complex concepts for audiences around the city and county.

Now, with just weeks to go before the 2019 event, organisers say they are delighted to have had such a ringing endorsement with the win at the LeicestershireLive Innovation Awards, which celebrated the very best technology, digital advances and creative thinking in the region.

The ART-AI Festival was produced by De Montfort University Leicester (DMU)’s Institute of Creative Technologies, sponsored by #DMUlocal and supported by Phoenix Cinema and Highcross Shopping Centre.

Professor Tracy Harwood, of DMU’s IOCT, said: “Working with partners Phoenix, Highcross Shopping Centre and independent curator, Luba Elliott, we were able to bring something really interesting to Leicester: the first Art AI Festival!

“The aim was to make the technology accessible to as many people as possible, and through the artwork get them to think about what it is doing and how it is doing it, as well as enjoy the artwork.

“We are continuing to work together to present this year's event in May too. We'll be making our website and programme available shortly, involving even more venues across Leicester, so the award is an excellent endorsement for the public.”

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War Games

Dir: John Badham

USA 1983, 1h 24mins

In this 80’s classic a young computer whiz kid accidentally finds a back-door into a top-secret super-computer, which has complete control over the U.S.A’s nuclear arsenal. It challenges him to a game between America and Russia and he innocently plays along - unknowingly starting the countdown to World War Three. Now the kid has to convince the computer he wanted to play a game and not the real thing.

A brilliant family film that rests the fate of the world on the ability of a super-computer to learn the parallels between the unwinnable game of Tic-Tac-Toe and the lose-lose scenarios of the Cold War.

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Welcome to the Art-AI Festival and site!

We are delighted to present our Festival Programme, and look forward to seeing you at one or more of our events over the course of two-weeks, many of which are FREE!  We look forward to a wide-ranging discussion on the role of AI in arts, or more generally in our everyday lives.

The inspiration for our programme has been the significant increase in media attention on AIs over the last few months.  We aim to bust a few myths and illustrate the scope of the technology as it stands today.  To do this, our programme comprises provocative installations that challenge you to think about the role of the AIs: Poltronieri’s #LoveApparatus poses the question, can an AI love you? and Yoldas’ Kitty AI shows you how an AI can go ‘bad’ and take over the world!  HumanMachine is an AI Improv performance by Mirowski’s alter ego, Albert, with AI robot A.L.ex – their performance illustrates the scope of the technology from which the audience will be invited to decide if the robot passes the Turing Test, which evaluates whether a machine can demonstrate human-like intelligence in words, thoughts and actions.

Throughout the Festival, artists and curators will present their overview of the challenges of working with AIs in different domains and its current application to the arts, such as Poltronieri (Institute of Creative Technologies, De Montfort), Elliott (independent curator and advisor to World Economic Forum on AI in creative industries), Roberts (Birmingham researcher-curator) and Ashton (curator). MIT Medialab’s Fuste presents Paper Cubes (for children 7-12yrs), a project supported by Google. Robot Maze (for children 3-7yrs) provides a drop-in opportunity for younger people to learn about the basics in a hands-on family-oriented workshop. A short film season tops and tails our programme including, among others, the original Ghost in the Shell, the iconic anime by Oshii that portrays man and machine as one, and AlphaGo, a docu-drama that illustrates the real potential of AIs today.

Do get in touch and give us your feedback (via any of the social media channels), or feel free to ask questions that we will try to answer on the Festival blog.

You can contact the lead organizer at –, @tgharwood or @ioct_dmu

on behalf of the Festival Team, we hope you enjoy the Festival!

Tracy Harwood, Institute of Creative Technologies, De Montfort University

Luba Elliott, independent

Chris Tyrer, Phoenix

Tina Barton, Highcross Shopping Centre

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