The Seventh Transdisciplinary Conference on Imaging at the Intersections of Art, Science, and Culture.
23 – 25 September 2022
Virtual and in-person, Naryn, Kyrgyzstan.
i-DAT is partnering with the Seventh Transdisciplinary Conference on Imaging at the Intersections of Art, Science, and Culture, The Nomadic Image, to deliver the Algorithmic (in)Coherence panel:
Saturday 24 / 9.30 – 11.30, Immersive Vision Theatre, University of Plymouth.
i-DAT Panel: UK Node of Transdisciplinary Imaging Conference
Title: Vision in Motion: Algorithmic (in)Coherence.
Keywords: Becoming, Algorithmic, Conversational AI, Data, Deep Neural Networks, Sensory, Synaesthetic, Kinetic, Scanning.
The Vision in Motion: Algorithmic (in)Coherence panel assembles a number of practitioners experiences with imaging data and algorithms. The matter, as immaterial as it is, under discussion is often entangled with a collaborative process with machines and their learnings through new behaviours, properties and provocations.
“-seeing, feeling and thinking in relationship and not as a series of isolated phenomena. It instantaneously integrates and transmutes single elements into a coherent whole” (Moholy-Nagy 1946, 12).
With a nod towards Moholy-Nagy’s Vision in Motion and the insights generated through an early electronic creative practice, the panel explores the properties of algorithmic (in)coherence that challenge notions of the image and their particular art hysterias. Through patterns that can’t be seen and lensless visualisations of the world, the Vision in Motion: Algorithmic (in)Coherence panel unpicks the delicate threads of the pervasive fabric of an algorithmic reality.
The Algorithmic Relationality of Relational Things that Talk
‘Relational things’ draws a reference to Turkle’s (2004) use of ‘relational artefacts’ and is here used to imply artificial systems (virtual or physical, embodied or disembodied) which are designed for social interactions with humans, or with other machines.Conjured through the design of systems with human-like attributes, reinforced through their immediacy, ubiquity and simulated authenticity, relational things trigger our instinctive ability to humanise things (Turkle, 1984; Nass, Moon, et al. 1997; Weizenbaum 1976). Feeding off rivers of data springing from our daily activities these relational things are becoming capable of learning, anticipating and predicting our next move.
Imbued with the ability to relate to us and make use care for them, these relational things entice us into their embrace; a grip that is just an illusion. The ‘algorithmic relationality’ of things that talk, or the ability of conversational systems with human-like attributes to form relations with their users, is an active design strategy, driven by their manufacturers ambition to fluidly integrate their technologies into people’s lives. This presentation interrogates the factors constituting and propagating the algorithmic relationality of things and attempts to decipher the effect of a commercial design strategy that exploits people’s susceptibility to human-like systems. In so doing it starts to describe an alternative approach to the design of conversational systems as relational others.
On Machine Becoming: Co-creation of Images through Deep Neural Networks
Machine becoming refers to what some post-phenomenologists describe as the ontological status of machines (Raitina 2015; Wellner 2022). This viewpoint holds that machines are not merely tools or objects but are instead entities in the process of becoming (Jackson 2013 p. 114). For example, as deep neural networks begin to understand symbolic language at exponential rates. One could consider the connectionist-inspired approach or tabula rasa model of learning (Chollet 2019 p. 7) –in a sense, becoming as they push the limits of symbolic representation. This is–arguably, one of the first thresholds of evolution according to Neural Darwinism (Edelman 1993; Favela 2021). Since neural Darwinism could explain how the brain creates new ideas, similarly, artificial creativity might be explained through its learned adaptive, exponential and emergent symbolic representation. With this in mind, images that are developed through deep neural networks benefit from an interpretation that is both nomadic and transdisciplinary.
This paper argues two main ideas. Firstly, that machines and their images should be considered part of the natural world and studied in similar ways to other living things–an approach requiring a transdisciplinary process. Some authorities oppose this idea–believing machines are fundamentally different from other life forms (Nicholson 2013; Smith & Nachtomy 2011). The second part of this argument asserts that a co-creational or co-creative approach with machines is an intrinsically nomadic, transdisciplinary, and potentially a novel form of creative practice. When these arguments are applied through the lens of co-creational practice generating images with neural nets, one might speculate such a practice represents, in part, emergent phenomena in support of machine becoming.
‘Somewhere’ not quite here or there…The complex geometries of trees…
Can technical lidar scanning capture poetically the echoes and natural transformations of the seasonal changes of a single Birch tree. How can this data capture help in defining and focusing our attention on the natural world and its complexities.
I would like to explore how a scanning work can combine lidar scans of a single tree, as it moves through its cycle of renewal from spring to summer, autumn to winter, capturing the subtle and often inaudible sounds of the tree slowly moving in the wind, the absorption of moisture from the roots and respiration through the leaves.
The relationship we have with trees draws on many references, and reflects our abiding relationships with nature, it both records natural conditions but also alludes to the human condition. While the scanning draws on the physical and visually arresting character of a single tree, including the complex and spatial architectural form, it conveys more than mere descriptive facts. Instead, the scanning invites us to re-imagine our relationship with trees, as both symbols and living organisms that help shape us and continue to play an indispensable role in our lives and imaginations.
Can lidar scanning work re-focus our attention, while reconfiguring traditional genres and developing new ways of representing location, environment, artistic and design practice while shifting our conventional perceptions and understanding of our natural environment.
Can lidar provide an act of remote collaboration and provide another layer of metaphor, by combining the analogue and the digital, whilst also highlighting and embracing temporal gaps, noise and the missing information that inevitably arises from such processes.
Synaesthetic/Kinetic Light Experience
I’d like to speak about the centuries-old tradition of synaesthetic or kinetic light experience, featuring tightly coupled sounds and dynamic visuals which at times carefully scored, and at other times loosely improvised, in relation to the image/sound as a generative property of a network, creative AI and generative fakery, in relation to these 2 works:
Levine, Shaker and Gibbons’ Scribble performed on AVES, an Audiovisual Environment Suite: a set of 7 interactive systems which allow the user to create and perform abstract animation and sound simultaneously, in real time.
Messa di Voce (2003: Golan Levin, Zachary Lieberman, Jaap Blonk, and Joan La Barbara) augments the speech, shouts and songs produced by two virtuoso vocalists with real-time interactive visualizations. The project touches on themes of abstract communication, synaesthetic relationships, cartoon language, and writing and scoring systems, within the context of a sophisticated, playful, and virtuosic audio-visual narrative.
Somatosensory Encounters: Sensory Nomadism in Immersive Media.
New media technologies extend our sensorium amplifying and connecting us to other worlds that would ordinarily be imperceptible, allowing us to see, hear, and experience at scales way beyond the body’s limits, such as the event horizon of a black hole, gravitational waves or the excitement of ions at the outer edge of our atmosphere. I am interested in the boundary or interface where technology meets the body; where it leads us back to the body, to the body’s limitations, its physicality, and breaches the body’s sovereignty. Unlike vision sounds encompasses our bodies, moves through and around us whether we perceive it or not. Writer and artist Steve Goodman speculates on the ‘unsound’, the sonic vibration that exists beyond the boundaries of our human perception.
Through a series of artworks this presentation will focus on the sound’s immersive qualities, its ability to seduce and unsettle and to infiltrate the body’s boundary.
A Tangled Substrate and the Emergent Image.
This section explores the image as an emergent property of the ‘network’. Here the network is framed as the tangled substrate of physical computational infrastructures, the bits, bytes, chips and transmissions, and the algorithmic structures which inhabit and breathe life into this fragile fabric. The presentation draws on several collaborative works where the latency and structure of the network can be seen to spawn images in motion, properties that were not part of the design but a by-product or emergent property of the system.
These include the networking infrastructure for some of Roy Ascott’s telematic activities, from 1985 leading up to Aspects of Gaia (1989), where the immateriality of code and the latency of the network generated an asynchronous teleportation, where two or three were gathered on a modem link, there we were among them, but not necessarily all at the same time.
To two key works by Donald Rodney, Psalms (1996), an Autonomous Wheelchair driven by a neural network to repeatedly move through a figure of eight path prescribed by Rodney, and paus and avoid those it encounters in its path. And donald.rodney:autoicon v1.0 (2001) A collaboration with Donald leading up to and beyond his death (1998), which captured and integrated a body of medical data, his body of work and his body politic with conversational AI and a rule-based montage machine to allow Autoicon to carry on generating works of art. All these works create a peculiar set of behaviours that entangle the viewer with the network.
Saturday 24th September 2022:
SESSION 5(A): Vision in Motion: Algorithmic (in)Coherence
9.30 – 9.45: #1: Prof Mike Phillips: A Tangled Substrate and the Emergent Image
9.45 – 10.00: #2: Dr Birgitte Aga:The Relationality of Relational Things that Talk
10.00 – 10.15: #3: Liz Coulter-Smith: On Machine Becoming: Co-creation of Images through Deep Neural Networks
10.15 – 10.30: Discussion #1
10.30 – 10.45: #4: Dr Jane Grant: Somatosensory Encounters: Sensory Nomadism in Immersive Media.
10.45 – 11.00: #5: Pete Quinn Davis: ‘Somewhere’ not quite here or there…The complex geometries of trees…
11.00 – 11.15: #6 Prof Victoria de Rijke: Synaesthetic/Kinetic Light Experience
11.15 – 11.30: Discussion #2
Birgitte Aga is Head of Research & Innovation at MUNCH in Oslo, Norway. She is a creative technologist, researcher, UX designer and product manager with an MBA in innovation and a PhD in conversational AI. She has 20 years of experience in leading technological R&D with a focus on user-first thinking. Working across industry, academia and the cultural sector, Birgitte has a track record of designing new data-driven and conversational AI-enabled projects, brokering cross-sector partnerships, pitching and securing investment whilst managing complex multi-disciplinary teams and stakeholder/client relationships.
Liz Coulter-Smith is an artist, researcher and creative coder working at the intersection of art, aesthetics, and machine learning (ML). She has worked as an academic for over 20 years in faculties of computing, visual arts, digital media & communications, with an emphasis on user experience design related to web design and development (since 2003).She is currently exploring generative imagery and ML aesthetics through plastic experimentation with code and data. Her approach is broadly situated within the field of computational creativity and process art. https://linktr.ee/lizcoultersmith
Pete Quinn Davis has developed an expanded practice that form hybrid connections to design, art, science and architecture. These focused interests include, notions of place, in terms of transformation, identity and memory, technology, ecology and particularly the understanding of data in the context of the 21st century. He is currently exploring digital processes through 3Dscanning and how this data can be transformed (re-materialized) into new and exciting area’s of creative practice. Peter is currently the Design Culture Research Leader at the University Plymouth.
Victoria de Rijke is a Professor in Arts & Education at Middlesex University in London. Her research and publication is transdisciplinary across the fields of literature and the arts, play and animal studies, through the associations of metaphor. The Quack-Project, (2004) CD and web materials featured children’s imitations of a range of animal sounds in 10 different mother-tongue languages, which could also be played and pitched as musical compositions. She is currently working on a book The Untimely Art of Scribble (2022) which includes how scribble is featured on screen and by machines.
Jane Grant is an artist and writer. Her work explores ideas in art and science, specifically astrophysics, neuroscience and the history of scientific ideas. Jane is currently working on a triptych of artworks, Other Worlds, One Hundred Million Ghosts and How to Disappear Completely, which are about longing, black holes and the multiverse. Jane writes about noise, the mutability of matter, desire and astrophysics. She is Associate Professor (Reader) in Digital Arts at Plymouth University where she is co-director of the research group Art and Sound and Principle Supervisor in the Planetary Collegium, CAiiA-Node.
Mike Phillips is Professor of Interdisciplinary Arts at University of Plymouth, the Director of Research at i-DAT.org and a Principal Supervisor for the Planetary Collegium.
His R&D orbits a portfolio of projects that explore the ubiquity of data ‘harvested’ from an instrumentalised world and its potential as a material for revealing things that lie outside our normal frames of reference – things so far away, so close, so massive, so small and so ad infinitum. For more information see the i-DAT web site at: http://www.i-dat.org.
The Seventh Transdisciplinary Imaging Conference will be held in the Central Asian republic of Kyrgyzstan, a country where equestrian nomadism remains a powerful cultural signifier. In Deleuze and Guattari’s nomadology, the nomad pursues pure lines of flight across the steppe, desert, or ocean: smooth, continually shifting spaces that stand in opposition to the striated, enclosed world of the settled State. Similarly, images traverse and produce unbounded, uncharted spaces whose circumference shifts, expands, and dissolves. Confounding distinctions between arrival and departure, every return of the image is a phantom, as illusory as the belief that the earth returns to the same spot after orbiting the sun. Heterogeneous and dynamic, de-territorialised and de-territorialising, how do the image’s nomadic flights construct and reflect the textures of the everyday?
In a hybrid online and in-person event hosted by the University of Central Asia on its Naryn campus, the conference offers an exciting opportunity for international participants to connect with Kyrgyz and other Central Asian creatives and scholars, and to explore experimental imaging cultures at the crossroads between East and West, and hypermodernity and tradition.
Ulrike Al-Khamis is the director of the Aga Khan Museum, Toronto. Dr. Al-Khamis has over 20 years of experience as a curator, senior advisor and director for museum and cultural projects, working with institutions including Glasgow Museums, the National Museums of Scotland, the Sharjah Museum of Islamic Civilization, and the Sharjah Museums Department in the United Arab Emirates
Altyn Kapalova is an artist, writer, and research fellow at the Cultural Heritage and Humanities Unit at the University of Central Asia. She draws on her anthropological research to strengthen the voices of vulnerable communities in Kyrgyzstan. Her work as a curator and feminist activist has attracted international attention.
Olga Kisseleva is Professor of contemporary art in the Sorbonne University, head of Art & New Media program and Founding director of Art & Science International Institute. She is one of the key figures in the international art & science field and has had major exhibitions at the Modern Art Museum (Paris), Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia (Madrid) Fondation Cartier for contemporary art (Paris), Centre Georges Pompidou (Paris), Guggenheim Museum (Bilbao), NCCA (Moscow). Her works are present in the world’s most important collections, including Centre Pompidou, Louis Vuitton Foundation, ZKM and NY MoMA.
Dominic McIver Lopes teaches at the University of British Columbia and works on images and their value, art and technology, and theories of art and aesthetic value. His most recent (co-authored) book is Aesthetic Life and Why It Matters, he is co-authoring a book entitled The Geography of Taste, and his next solo project is Aesthetic Injustice: A Cosmopolitan Theory.
Erin Manning studies in the interstices of philosophy, aesthetics and politics, concerned, always, about alter-pedagogical and alter-economic practices. 3e is the direction her current research takes – an exploration of the transversality of the three ecologies, the social, the environmental and the conceptual. An iteration of 3e is a land-based project north of Montreal where living and learning is explored. Legacies of SenseLab infuse the project, particularly the question of how collectivity is crafted in a more-than-human encounter with worlds in the making.
Paul Thomas is Honorary Professor at UNSW Art and Design and is currently the Director of the Studio for Transdisciplinary Art Research (STAR) as well as the conference founder and series chair of the Transdisciplinary Imaging Conference series 2010-2022. In 2000 he instigated and was the founding Director of the Biennale of Electronic Arts Perth 2002, 2004 and 2007. As an artist, he is a pioneer of transdisciplinary art practice. His practice-led research takes not only inspiration from nanoscience and quantum theory but actually operates there.
Full Conference Registration 2022
In addition to papers, panel discussions, and artist presentations, the conference will also host a short film competition, and three practice-based workshops.
The film competition will run concurrently 23-25 September. Workshops: 21 September, Museology (with Ulrike al-Khamis) 22 September, Quantum Drawing (with Prof. Paul Thomas) and 26 September, Kyrgyz Eye (with Michael Garbutt).
The hybrid conference can be accessed online and in-person. Registration for online attendance is available for $ 75 AU. For non-Kyrgyz-based delegates, registration for in-person attendance on the Naryn campus of the University of Central Asia is available for $150 AU. The registration fee enables attendance at the workshops and film competition screenings at no extra charge.
Brogan Bunt, University of Wollongong
Edward Colless, University of Melbourne
Vince Dzekan, Monash University
David Eastwood, University of New South Wales
Chelsea Lehrmann, National Art School
Chris Speed, University of Edinburgh
Mark Titmarsh, University of Technology, Sydney
Paul Thomas, University of New South Wales
Aibek Niiazaliev, University of Central Asia
Nursultan Stanaliev, University of Central Asia
Erbol Sovataly Uulu, University of Central Asia
Erzhan Zhyrgalbek Uulu, University of Central Asia
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