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Panel : State of the AI-Art

The panel is chaired by Ernest Edmonds, with discussants from the day's keynotes and talks. As well as picking up on the issues related to the creative processes, curatorial considerations and audience engagement strategies, this is an opportunity for all conference participants to ask burning questions that may have arisen during the day or previously.  These can also be submitted ahead of time via @ArtAIFestival or Instagram ArtAIFestLeics and using hashtag #ARTAI2019 and we'll do our best to feed them into the discussion process.


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Talk : Love Apparatus

Speaker : Fabrizio Poltronieri

Can apparatus love? We don’t know for sure, but surely they can say things about love!

This artist talk will reflect on the development of the artwork featured as part of last year's ART-AI Festival.  “#LoveApparatus” (@apparatus_love) was installed at the Highcross Shopping Centre and delivered generative love text aphorisms based on postings to the twitter account “@apparatus_love”.

The public were able to interact with the apparatus by tweeting using the hashtag “#LoveApparatus”.  The work itself, analyses the public contributions using an algorithm to identify its level of ‘loveliness’, and the ones with a high score are fed into the network to generate future love quotes.

Fabrizio will be discussing the process of combining scrapping techniques, neural networks – using machine learning, an artificial intelligence technique – and his use of a social network account.

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Talk : Making a Chatbot

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. 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.

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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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