Speaker : Libby Heaney
With the rise of nationalism it is important to reassess collective and individual (national) identities and search for new ways of questioning notions of authenticity and origin. In my mind, Karen Barad’s theory of intra-action is useful for this end. Intra-action posits that objects or phenomena do not precede their interaction but instead emerge within a system. Through this lens we will reassess the phenomena of ‘Britishness’, particularly by bringing machine learning algorithms into play. In relation to this, I will discuss my recent Sky Arts Art 50 commission, Britbot and think more widely about how dominant narratives (such as those around British culture and history) may be diffracted into strange new forms.
www.britbot.org is a net-based chatbot which uses both rule based and generative models to explore the concept of ‘Britishness’ at this critical moment in history. Trained initially on the UK government’s citizenship test and corresponding textbook Life in the United Kingdom 2017, as people talk to Britbot it gradually learns from what they say becoming a wider reflection of ‘Britishness’ today.
As part of the ART AI Festival 2019 artwork trail, Libby Heaney's Britbot is on display at Phoenix, 4 Midland Street, Leicester, LE1 1TG - see downloadable map here. As part of the ART AI Festival 2019 artwork trail, Libby Heaney's Britbot is on display at Phoenix, 4 Midland Street, Leicester, LE1 1TG - download map.