AI Tag

NOT POMPIDOU – Paris, FR

As part of the 2020 exhibition NEURONS: Simulated Intelligence at Centre Pompidou, Paris, my work as a media artist in AI, affective computing, and interactive sound website was misattributed to American composer and professor at Brandeis University Erin Gee (who shares my name).

While the two Erin Gees have been aware of one another’s practices for several years, (we share many peers who have teased us about our namesakes, and we were even programmed in the same music festival in 2019), to our knowledge our works have never been mixed up or misattributed in a professional capacity.

A public statement was made by the publishers of the catalogue (HYX editions) on their website and as a digital addendum/downloadable pdf, available here.

This post is intended to clarify the following points:

  1. The work that was presented at Centre Pompidou, Shillim: Mouthpiece 34 (2019), is not my work. Mouthpieces is the name of a body of work by homonymous American composer Erin Gee. She is best known for her work in non-semantic vocal music that typically consists of vocal and instrumental compositions, named Mouthpieces with a numerator afterwards. She has been contributing compositions to the Mouthpieces series for over twenty years.
  2. The artworks Machine Unlearning (2020) and Laughing Web Dot Space (2018) referenced in the wall text of the exhibition (see below) and attributed to the American composer are my works. These are new media artworks, incorporating technologies such as neural networks and interactive HTML in their creation. In addition, my work of the soone (2017) attributed to the American composer via the catalogue (see below) is another new media artwork of mine that uses machine learning / AI, and is a collaboration with Canadian media artist Sofian Audry, who is not acknowledged in the catalogue.
  3. As part of the events surrounding the exhibition, American composer Erin Gee was also invited to speak on a panel as part of Forum Vertigo: human and artificial perception dealing with generative music and artificial intelligence.  The opinions expressed and works she references in this panel discussion are entirely her own and are unrelated to my practice.

 

Following the discovery of the misattribution of my work at the exhibition opening (thanks to Parisian peers who were on site), I worked with Robin Dupuis (the Director of the organization perte de signal, which represents my work) to communicate the seriousness of this error to the exhibition’s curators Frédéric Migayrou et Camille Lenglois. Unfortunately, the wall text misattributing my work and research in new media art to American composer Erin Gee remained on the wall of the exhibition for weeks before being replaced by a text that was truly dedicated to the research of the American composer.

In response, the curators of Neurones apologized for these misattribution errors. They expressed that they were unable to do anything further to mitigate the issue of the 200-page catalogue, which also attributed other new media artworks of mine to the American composer who shares my name. During this period I had also reached out to the American artist who was also onsite, however for personal reasons she was not available to respond to the situation for several months.

A photo of original wall text from Neurones exhibition at Centre Pompidou combining the works and research of Canadian Artist Erin Gee with American Composer Erin Gee.

I am very grateful for the assistance of Robin Dupuis at Perte de Signal as well as Editions HYX publishers for working together to create a digital addendum that addresses the error published in the catalogue a month after the error was discovered. It was very pleasant to work with the publishers together on this solution. Despite this, a digital addendum has only a limited impact, as the printed copies remain in circulation without any printed addendum (see below).

I have recently been in touch with American composer Erin Gee to share a horrified laugh and work on solutions – we have both agreed to be diligent and aware of potential confusions this situation might create in the future. We collectively state:  Canadian new media artist Erin Gee is a specialist in affective technologies, emergent technologies such as quantum computing and AI, and vocal performance inspired by ASMR. American composer Erin Gee is a professor at Brandeis University and also an expert in non-semantic vocal performance and composition techniques.

This is of course an imperfect and improvisational solution, as I would never want to prevent a peer from exploring new technology, nor is it logical for me to avoid non-semantic vocal content in future works. Rather, this strategy speaks to a disciplinary situatedness that our sensibilities emerge from. If you are a professional artist or curator working in our fields, please share this story in your network as a means of preventing further confusion. As more peers learn of this issue, as well as our two distinct practices and achievements in our respective fields, we hope that this error will not reproduce itself.

Slanted Magazine

My works Machine Unlearning (2020) and Project H.E.A.R.T. (2017) w/ Alex M. Lee are featured in the beautiful German design magazine Slanted #37 – AI!

Slanted Publishers is an internationally active publishing and media house founded in 2014 by Lars Harmsen and Julia Kahl. They publish the award-winning print magazine Slanted, covering international developments in design and culture twice a year.

Out Now:
Slanted Magazine #37–AI

Artificial Intelligence (A.I.) has become—besides being an over-hyped buzzword across industries (that the design world is no exception to)—a reality. The latest issue of Slanted Magazine looks at the impact of artificial intelligence on design and its subsets and highlights how these technologies can change our lives through numerous projects, essays, and interviews. And one more thing: for each cover of the entire edition, a unique motif of CROSSLUCID was printed—an aesthetic between portrait, still life and expressionistic topography, alien to our understanding of the human, the natural, the artificial and the digital …
Slanted Publishers (pub.), 160 × 240 mm, 288 pages, English, Digital Cover Printing (Limego), Offset Printing (Stober Medien), Paper (Fedrigoni), Swiss brochure, ISSN: 1867-6510.

Machine Unlearning

Vision calibration from Machine Unlearning (2020). Photography by Elody Libe. Image courtesy of the artist.

In Machine Unlearning, the artist greets the viewer and slowly offers them a unique neural conditioning “treatment”: sonically reproducing the unraveling outputs of an LSTM algorithm as it “unlearns” through whispering, moving backwards in time through its epochs of training. This aural treatment is couched in a first-person roleplay scenario that grounds the viewer through a series of simple audio visual tests. At no point is the neural network technology “seen” – it is instead performed by a human interlocuter, translated into affective vocality and whispered text. The algorithm was created by media artist Sofian Audry, and trained on the text of Emily Brontë’s novel Wuthering Heights (1847). This novel was chosen in part because of its richly poetic syntax, but also for its feminine vocality and conceptual themes of love and intergenerational trauma. Machine Unlearning is a novel combination of neural network technologies and the popular internet genre “Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response,” or ASMR. ASMR is a social media genre that has developed largely through massive social media metrics in the form of upvotes, clicks, comments, subscribes, and likes in response to audio visual stimuli that creates feelings of mild euphoria, relaxation and pleasure. ASMR fans online seek out specific video content that causes the physiological reaction of “tingles” – tingling sensations across the skin, a mild body high, or simply a means of falling asleep. Gee considers ASMR as a form of psychosomatic body hacking. By combining machine learning with ASMR, Gee draws parallels between cutting edge autonomous/non-conscious algorithms and the autonomous/unconscious functions of the human body. Just as ASMRtists use specific sounds and visual patterns in their videos to “trigger” physical reactions in the viewer, machine learning algorithms also unconsciously respond to patterns perceived through limited senses in order to develop learning (and unlearning) results. The artist’s emphasis on whispering the textual outputs of the algorithm as it slowly “unlearns” allows the listener to grasp the materiality of machine learning processes at a human level, but also a subconscious level: allowing one’s body to be mildly and charmingly “hacked” through soft and gentle play.

Credits: Photography and videography by Elody Libe.

Production Support: Machine Unlearning video installation was produced at Perte de Signal with the support of the MacKenzie Art Gallery for the exhibition To the Sooe (2020) curated by Tak Pham.

The roleplay performance was developed during my artistic residency at Locus SonusÉcole Superieur d’art d’Aix en Provence and Laboratoire PRISM.

Custom LSTM Algorithm created by media artist Sofian Audry

More...

The use of the word “intelligence” in the metaphor of AI focuses on higher functions of consciousness that algorithms do not possess. While algorithms have not meaningfully achieved a humanistic consciousness to date, today’s algorithms act autonomously on sensory information, processing data from its environment in unconscious, automatic ways. The human brain also responds unconsciously and automatically to sensory data in its environment, for example, even if you are not conscious of how hot a stove is, if you place your hand on a hot stove, your hand will automatically pull away. These unconscious, physiological actions in the sensory realm points to an area of common experience between algorithms and the human.  For more explanation of these ideas, take a look at the work of postmodern literary critic N. Katherine Hayles in her 2017 book Unthought: The power of the cognitive nonconscious.  In this way I wonder if the expression “autonomous intelligence” makes more sense than “artificial intelligence”, however like posthumanist feminist Rosi Braidotti I am deeply suspicious of the humanist pride that our species takes in the word “intelligence” as something that confers a special status and justification for domination of other forms of life on earth.

Live Performance

This work was first developed as a performance that debuted at Cluster Festival, Winnipeg in 2019.  During live performance, each audience member dons a pair of wireless headphones.  The performance allows the audience members to see the ASMR “result” of the performance for camera, simultaneous with the ability to see my “backstage” manipulation of props and light in real time.

Machine Unlearning (2019) Performance at Cluster Festival, Winnipeg. Photo: Leif Norman.

Machine Unlearning (2019) Performance at Cluster Festival, Winnipeg. Photo: Leif Norman.

Machine Unlearning (2019) Performance at Cluster Festival, Winnipeg. Photo: Leif Norman.

Cover Story: Leader Post

I was surprised for my exhibition To the Sooe to be featured as front-page news on January 27, 2020 in the Leader Post, the leading newspaper of Regina Saskatchewan. Inside the paper you can find an interview with exhibition curator Tak Pham and I regarding my solo show at the MacKenzie Art Gallery, To the Sooe.

““Erin’s work is very, very immersive. It’s really bringing the reaction, the chemistry, the biology within your body and really bringing it outwards and put(ting) it on display,” said Tak Pham, who curated this exhibition at the MacKenzie.”

Click here to read the full article.

 

 

Cover Story: Prairie Dog Magazine

“Modernity and the Age of Reason kind of championed the brain as this really important thing that defined us as human,” she adds. “I’m interested in recent scientific studies that [show] it’s not all about the brain. Our thinking process actually happens in concert with our body beyond the brain. What I’m interested in is using technology to create a culture of the body.”

“I’m interested in making a conversation about technology that doesn’t centre on intelligence but on emotion.”

– Erin Gee, excerpts from interview with Gregory Beatty

My exhibition “To the Sooe” at the MacKenzie Art Gallery is front page news in Regina’s Prairie Dog Magazine!  The Prairie Dog is Regina’s top source for what is going on in entertainment and the arts, so it is a great honor to be featured.  I also appreciate the reporting done by Gregory Beatty on this interview.  Click here to read the full article.

As a very brief aside, I want to address to the use of the words “Sound-Shaman” on the cover of this magazine.  I have never used these terms to describe my practice, as I am not currently practicing any form of spiritual faith that would qualify me to do so. These words are not my own, but were an editorial decision that I do not identify with and strongly reject.

ASAP Journal

Happy to announce that my short article on machine learning, ASMR and sound “Automation as Echo” written with Sofian Audry is now published in ASAP/Journal 4.2 in a collection of articles assembled by Jennifer Rhee covering automation from diverse/creative/critical perspectives.

From the article:

“The echo is a metaphor that goes beyond sound, speaking to the physical and temporal gaps in human-computer interaction that open up a space of aesthetic consumption problematized by the impossibility of comprehending machine perspectives on human terms. The echo unfolds in time, but most importantly it unfolds in space: sound travels as a physical interaction between a subject and an object that seemingly “speaks back.”

The mythological nymph Echo “speaks” or “performs” her subjectivity through reflection or imitation of the voice of human Narcissus. Her (incomplete, sometimes humorous, sometimes uncannily resemblant) nonhuman voice is dependent on the human subject, who is also the progenitor of her speech. The relationship between these two mythological entities creates an apt metaphor for machine learning: its processes are not of the human, yet its “neural” functions are crafted in imitation of and in response to human thought. As machine subjectivity is crafted from human subjectivity, we cannot grasp its machined voice, nor perceive its subjective position, through analysis of its various textual, sonic, visual, and robotic outputs alone. Rather, the “voice” of machine learning is fleeting, heard through the spaces, the gaps, the movements between the machine and the human, the vibrational color of nonhuman noise.”

ABOUT ASAP JOURNAL

ASAP/Journal is a peer-reviewed scholarly journal published by John Hopkins University Press that explores new developments in post-1960s visual, media, literary, and performance arts. The scholarly publication of ASAP: The Association for the Study of the Arts of the Present, ASAP/Journal promotes intellectual exchange between artists and critics across the arts and humanities. The journal publishes methodologically cutting-edge, conceptually adventurous, and historically nuanced research about the arts of the present.

Book: Robotic Imaginary

My robotic artwork Swarming Emotional Pianos is featured in image and text on p 131-132 of Jennifer Rhee’s newly published book: The Robotic Imaginary: The Human and the Price of Dehumanized Labor (2018, University of Minnesota Press).  The image above is just a photo of me relaxing with a coffee as I read the first few pages…

This amazing book details AI from a perspective that is driven by emotion and humanity, while referencing the work and the influence of women and poc in a way I haven’t seen before. I found myself constantly thinking: yes, yes as I read the book!

 

From the official description of the book:

The word robot—introduced in Karel Čapek’s 1920 play R.U.R.—derives from rabota, the Czech word for servitude or forced labor. A century later, the play’s dystopian themes of dehumanization and exploited labor are being played out in factories, workplaces, and battlefields. In The Robotic Imaginary, Jennifer Rhee traces the provocative and productive connections of contemporary robots in technology, film, art, and literature. Centered around the twinned processes of anthropomorphization and dehumanization, she analyzes the coevolution of cultural and technological robots and artificial intelligence, arguing that it is through the conceptualization of the human and, more important, the dehumanized that these multiple spheres affect and transform each other.

Drawing on the writings of Alan Turing, Sara Ahmed, and Arlie Russell Hochschild; such films and novels as Her and The Stepford Wives; technologies like Kismet (the pioneering “emotional robot”); and contemporary drone art, this book explores anthropomorphic paradigms in robot design and imagery in ways that often challenge the very grounds on which those paradigms operate in robotics labs and industry. From disembodied, conversational AI and its entanglement with care labor; embodied mobile robots as they intersect with domestic labor; emotional robots impacting affective labor; and armed military drones and artistic responses to drone warfare, The Robotic Imaginary ultimately reveals how the human is made knowable through the design of and discourse on humanoid robots that are, paradoxically, dehumanized.

 

Click here to view more information on the book at University of Minnesota Press

 

New World Notes Top 12 of 2018

Wagner James Au, official blogger for Second Life, included my biosignal-controlled VR work Project H.E.A.R.T. in his New World Notes 2018 roundup of most exciting innovations in AR, VR and AI! Project H.E.A.R.T.’s innovate incorporation of emotion into gameplay was included among such exciting innovations such as MICA, Magic Leap’s Eerily Human AI Avatar Who Looks You In The Eye, an AI basketball player that “learns” how to dribble a ball, and IOS ARKit technology that allows for shadows and reflections of real objects to appear in AR spaces.

 

Click here to read what else made top 12 at New World Notes