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Talk : State of the AI-Art

Speaker : Luba Elliot

This talk will give an overview of how artists and creative technologists are using and thinking about artificial intelligence. Over the past couple of years, there has been increasing interest in applying the latest advances in machine learning to creative projects in art, music, film, theatre and beyond. From Google's DeepDream and style transfer to the world's first computer-generated musical playing in London's West End, more and more creative AI projects are moving beyond the world of research and academia into the public eye. Likewise, the art world has been critically interpreting the impact of these technologies, highlighting the problems of bias, uniformity and surveillance.

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Keynote : Jake Elwes – Creative Dilemmas

Speaker : Jake Elwes

The creative possibilities opened up by machine learning and the implications of generating new original content from an algorithm - which has learnt from vast amounts of data using generative neural networks - seem conceptually extraordinary. Early experiments included generating images of electric sheep, clouds in skies, and tricking a censoring algorithm into producing synthetic pornography. I went on to ask how far I could push an algorithm trained to generate humanly recognisable images into abstracted and unpredictable outcomes (Latent Space 2017), setting off language and image generating models to have conversations (Closed Loop 2017), and taking neural birds back into a natural landscape (Cusp 2019). 

This rapidly developing field raises many issues, from old philosophical, political and ethical questions to creative dilemmas. What happens to artistic agency when working with artificial intelligence? What does it mean to collaborate creatively with an unpredictable algorithm, learning from datasets unsupervised, and how does this fit into a history of conceptual and systems art?
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Keynote : Mario Klingemann – Interstitial Space 2019

Mario Klingemann is an artist and describes himself as a skeptic with a curious mind. He taught himself programming in the early 1980s and has been creating algorithms that are able to surprise and to show almost autonomous creative behaviour ever since.

In this Keynote, he introduces his latest work, Interstitial Space 2019, which creates an open feedback loop between a portrait-generating adversarial neural network and the audience. Through a camera the system observes in real-time its own output that is being projected on to the walls and tries to identify facial features. These features get reinterpreted by a GAN (generative adversarial network) that has been trained on portraiture and become part of new output.

The noise and misinterpretation introduced by the neural models involved in this process cause the system to never repeat itself but at the same time reveal the nature of the data it has been trained on.  By stepping into the gap between the camera and the projection, the spectator becomes part of the cycle and can attempt to take control over the emergent visuals.

As part of the ART AI Festival 2019 artwork trail, Klingemann's Interstitial Space 2019 is on display at Phoenix, 4 Midland Street, Leicester, LE1 1TG - download map.

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VIP Launch : Gallery

Celebrating the launch of the ART-AI Festival at Phoenix with an opportunity to see Klingemann's and Heaney's work.

Installations are open throughout the festival (May 16-31).


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Performance : Human+Machine – Improbotics

Improbotics is both an improvised comedy show and a live Turing test: an actual artificial intelligence-based chatbot is performing in the show alongside human improvisers. The AI sends lines to one of the improvisers via an earpiece. The cast’s impossible and hilarious challenge is to justify - physically and emotionally - lines that may make no sense at all. The audience’s challenge is to guess who is the AI and who is Human. Piotr Mirowski, a research scientist in artificial intelligence as well as a theatre and improv actor, comes back to Art-AI Leicester to direct Improbotics and to talk about the science of chatbots and the use of AI to inspire performance artists. Last year, Piotr and his collaborator Kory Mathewson presented HumanMachine, their work on AI improv; Improbotics takes this further with a full cast of professional theatre actors and of seasoned improvisers.

Improbotics was co-founded by Piotr Mirowski (London, UK) and Kory Mathewson (Edmonton, Canada), two research scientists in artificial intelligence as well as professional actors and improvisers, who were joined by Jenny Elfving (Stockholm, Sweden), drama and language instructor at KTH, as well as by large casts of improvisers in their three respective hometowns, making this a fully international collaboration.

Improbotics, which has performed at Improvaganza and at the Rapid Fire Theatre in Edmonton, in London, at Camden Fringe, at Brighton Fringe, at Impro Amsterdam, at Festival International de Théâtre d’Improvisation Subito! in Brest, France, and Presens Improkällare in Stockholm, was featured in the New York Times (“A Robot Walks Into a Bar. But Can It Do Comedy?”, 8 August 2018) and New Scientist (“AI tries bad improv comedy to trick people into thinking it is human”, 14 September 2018). The troupe at encouraging an arts-meet-science interdisciplinary exploration of how actors can seamlessly perform while controlled by a machine.

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