Category Archives: Visual Art

more-than-human, an art/sci exhibition and series of events starting February 1, 2023

Toronto’s Art/Sci Salon’s January 30, 2023 announcement (received via email) lists information for two organizations, the Onsite Gallery’s events and the Salon’s own events.

Onsite Gallery

This gallery is located in Toronto, Ontario at 199 Richmond St. W. From the homepage, “It is the flagship professional gallery of OCAD [Ontario College of Art and Design] University and an experimental curatorial platform for art, design and new media.”

From the Onsite Gallery ‘more-than-human‘ event page. First, there’s the exhibition (Note 1: I found the gallery’s event page I’m using here more informative than the email announcement; Note 2: I have not included the images featuring the artists and their work),

more-than-human

February 01 to May 13, 2023 

Curated by Jane Tingley 

Core exhibition of the CONTACT Photography Festival 

more-than-human presents media artworks at the intersection of art, science, Indigenous worldviews, and technology that speculatively and poetically use multimodal storytelling as a vehicle for interpreting, mattering, and embodying more-than-human ecologies. The artworks in this exhibition aim to critically and emotionally engage with the important work of decentering the human and rethinking the perspective that sees nature as a lifeless resource for exploitation. Many of the artworks use technological and scientific tools as entry points for witnessing and interacting with these more-than-human worlds, as they help visualize phenomena beyond human sensory perception while nevertheless situating us within them. Combined, the artworks in the show weave a story that tells a tale of symbiosis, intersections, and more-than-human relationality. They incorporate scientific, philosophical, and Indigenous perspectives to create an experiential tapestry that asks the viewer to reconsider, reorient, and rethink relationships with the more-than-human. 

more-than-human Online Exhibition Publication

more-than-human curator and artist 

Jane Tingley is an artist, curator, Director of the SLOlab: Sympoietic Living Ontologies Lab and Associate Professor at York University. Her studio work combines traditional studio practice with new media tools – and spans responsive/interactive installation, performative robotics, and telematically connected distributed sculptures/installations. Her works is interdisciplinary in nature and explores the creation of spaces and experiences that push the boundaries between science and magic, interactivity, and playfulness, and offer an experience to the viewer that is accessible both intellectually and technologically. Using distributed technologies, her current work investigates the hidden complexity found in the natural world and explores the deep interconnections between the human and non-human relationships. As a curator her interests lie at the intersection art, science, and technology with a special interest in collaborative creativity as impetus for innovation and discovery. Recent exhibitions include Hedonistika (2014) at the Musée d’art contemporain (Mtl, CA), INTERACTION (2016) and Agents for Change (2020) at THE MUSEUM (Kitchener, CA). As an artist she has participated in exhibitions and festivals in the Americas, the Middle East, Asia, and Europe – including translife -International Triennial of Media Art at the National Art Museum of China, Beijing, Elektra Festival in Montréal (CA) and the Künstlerhause in Vienna (AT). She received the Kenneth Finkelstein Prize in Sculpture (CA), the first prize in the iNTERFACES – Interactive Art Competition (PT). 

more-than-human artists

Ursula Biemann is an artist, author and video essayist. Her artistic practice is research oriented and involves fieldwork from Greenland to Amazonia, where she investigates climate change and the ecologies of oil, ice, forests and water. In her multi-layered videos, she interweaves vast cinematic landscapes with documentary footage, science fiction poetry and academic findings to narrate a changing planetary reality. In 2018, Biemann was commissioned by Museo de Arte, Universidad Nacional de Colombia in the co-creation of a new Indigenous University in the South of Colombia led by the Inga people in which she contributes the online platform Devenir Universidad. Her recent video installation Forest Mind (2021) emerges from this long-term collaboration. She has published numerous books, including Forest Mind (2022) and the audiovisual online monograph Becoming Earth on her ecological video works between 2011-2021. Biemann has exhibited internationally with recent solo exhibitions at MAMAC, Nice and the Centre culturel suisse, Paris. She is appointed Doctor honoris causa in Humanities by the Swedish University Umea, and has received the 2009 Prix Meret Oppenheim, the Swiss Grand Award for Art, and the 2022 Zurich Art Award. 

www.geobodies.org 

Lindsey french (she/they) is a settler artist, educator and writer whose work engages in multi- sensory signaling within ecological and technological systems. She has exhibited widely including at the Museum of Contemporary Art (Chicago), the International Museum of Surgical Science (Chicago), Pratt Manhattan Gallery (New York), the Miller Gallery for Contemporary Art (Pittsburgh), and SixtyEight Art Institute (Copenhagen). Recent publications include chapters for Ambiguous Territory: Architecture, Landscape, and the Postnatural (Actar, 2022), Olfactory Art and The Political in an Age of Resistance (Routledge, 2021), Why Look at Plants (Brill, 2019), and poetry for the journal Forty-Five. They earned an interdisciplinary BA in Environment, Interaction, and Design (Hampshire College), and an MFA in Art and Technology Studies (School of the Art Institute of Chicago). Newly based in the prairie landscape of Treaty 4 territory in Regina, Saskatchewan, french teaches as an Assistant Professor in Creative Technologies in the Faculty of Media, Art, and Performance at the University of Regina. 

www.lindseyfrench.com 

Grace Grothaus Is a computational media artist whose research explores ecosystemic human and plant relationships in relation to the present global climate crisis and speculative futures. She is interested in art’s potential to foster empathy with more-than-human worlds. Frequently collaborative, Grace works with scientists, engineers, musicians and other visual and performing artists. Her research-creation is expressed as physical computing installations which take place both outdoors or in the gallery and often center around the sensing and visualization of invisible environmental phenomena. Her artworks have been exhibited widely including at the International Symposium of Electronic Art (Barcelona, ES & Durban, SA), Environmental Crisis: Art & Science (London, UK), Cité Internationale des Arts (Paris, FR), and the World Creativity Biennale (Rio de Janiero, BR). Grothaus has received numerous awards including from the United States National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts. Currently she is working towards a PhD in Digital Media from York University where she has been named a VISTA scholar and a Graduate Fellow of Academic Distinction. 

Dolleen Tisawii’ashii Manning is an interdisciplinary artist and Queen’s National Scholar in Anishinaabe Language, Knowledge, and Culture (ALKC) in the Department of Philosophy and Cultural Studies at Queen’s University. Manning has expertise in Anishinaabe ontology, mnidoo interrelationality, phenomenology, and art. A member of Kettle and Stoney Point First Nation, her primary philosophical influence and source of creativity is her early childhood grounding in Anishinaabe onto- epistemology. She is Principal Investigator of Earthdiver: Land-Based Worlding (MITACS), and Co-Investigator on Pluriversal Worlding with Extended Reality. Manning co-directs the cross- institutional Peripheral Visions Co-Lab (York and Queen’s). She is an affiliate of Revision Centre for Art and Social Justice, and Fellow of The International Institute for Critical Studies in Improvisation (IICSI). 

Mary Bunch is a media artist, Canada Research Chair, and Associate Professor, Cinema and Media Arts at York University. Through theoretical inquiry and collaborative research creation, Bunch mobilizes queer, feminist, disability and decolonial frameworks to better understand peripheral worldmaking imaginaries in media arts and intermedial performance. She is co-editor of a special issue on Access Aesthetics in Public, Principal Investigator on the research creation project Pluriversal Worlding with Extended Reality (SSHRC Insight) and co-investigator on Earthdiver: Land- Based Worlding (MITACS). Dr Bunch is co-director of the Peripheral Visions Co- Lab, Executive Committee member of Sensorium: Centre for Digital Arts and Technology, a core member of Vision: Science to Applications (VISTA), a Fellow at the Bonham Centre for Sexual Diversity Studies, and an Affiliate of Revision Centre for Art and Social Justice. 

Suzanne Morrissette (she/her) (she/her) is an artist, curator, and scholar who is currently based out of Toronto. Her father’s parents were Michif- and Cree-speaking Metis with family histories tied to the Interlake and Red River regions and Scrip in the area now known as Manitoba. Her mother’s parents came from Canadian-born farming families descended from United Empire loyalists and Mennonites from Russia. Morrissette was born and raised in Winnipeg and is a citizen of the Manitoba Metis Federation. As an artistic researcher Suzanne’s interests include: family and community knowledge, methods of translation, the telling of in-between histories, and practices of making that support and sustain life. Her two recent solo exhibitions, What does good work look like? and translations recently opened in Toronto (Gallery 44) and Montreal (daphne art centre) respectively. Her work has appeared in numerous group exhibitions such as Lii Zoot Tayr (Other Worlds), an exhibition of Metis artists working with concepts of the unknowable, and the group exhibition of audio-based work about waterways called FLOW with imagineNATIVE Film + Media Art Festival. Morrissette holds a PhD from York University in Social and Political Thought. She currently holds the position of Assistant Professor and Graduate Program Director for the Criticism and Curatorial Practices and Contemporary Art, Design, and New Media Histories Masters programs at OCAD University. 

www.suzannemorrissette.com 

Joel Ong (PhD, MSc.Bioart) is a media artist whose works connect scientific and artistic approaches to the environment, developed from more than a decade of explorations in sound, installation and socially conscious art. His conceptual explorations revolve around metaphors of distance, connectivity, assiduously reworking this notion of the ‘environment’ – how different tools and scales of observation reveal diverse biotic and abiotic relationalities, and how these continually oscillate between natural and computational worlds. His works have been shown at internationally at the Currents New Media Festival, Nuit Blanche Toronto, Seattle Art Museum, the Gregg Museum of Art and Design, the Penny Stamps Gallery and the Ontario Science Centre etc. Joel is Associate Professor in Computational Arts and Director of Sensorium:The Centre for Digital Arts and Technology at York University, in Toronto, Canada. His research has been funded by such as SSHRC, eCampus Ontario, Women and Gender Equality Canada.   

Rasa Smite and Raitis Smits are Riga and Karlsruhe based artists and co-founders of RIXC Center for New Media Culture in Riga [Latvia], co-curators of RIXC Art and Science Festival, chief-editors of Acoustic Space, as well as co-chairs of recently founded NAIA – Naturally Artificial Intelligence Art association in Karlsruhe, Germany. Together they create visionary and networked artworks – from pioneering internet radio experiments in 1990s, to artistic investigations in electromagnetic spectrum and collaborations with radio astronomers, and more recent “techno-ecological” explorations. Their projects have been nominated (Purvitis Prize 2019, 2021, International Public Arts Award – Euroasia region 2021), awarded (Ars Electronica 1998, Falling Walls – Science Breakthrough 2021) and shown widely including at the Venice Architecture Biennale, Latvian National Museum of Arts, House of Electronic Arts in Basel, Ars Electronica Festival in Linz, and other venues, exhibitions and festivals in Europe, US, Canada and Asia. More recently they both also have been lecturers in MIT ACT – Art Culture Technology program (2018-2021), Boston.

Rasa Smite holds a PhD in sociology of media and culture; her thesis Creative Networks. In the Rear-View Mirror of Eastern European History (11) has been published by The Amsterdam Institute for Network Cultures. Currently she is a Professor of New Media Art at Liepaja University, and Senior Researcher at FHNW Academy of Art and Design in Basel, Switzerland. 

Raitis Smits holds his doctoral degree in arts, and he is a Professor at the Art Academy of Latvia. In 2017 Raitis was a Fulbright Researcher in the Graduate Center of NYC. 

www.smitesmits.com | www.rixc.org 

Now, for the free public events (From the Onsite Gallery ‘more-than-human‘ event page), Note: Some events are being live streamed,

Opening Reception – Wednesday, February 01 [2023], 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., at Onsite Gallery, 199 Richmond Street West   

Join us for the public launch of the exhibition, with a land acknowledgement and opening remarks.   

more-than human Artists Panel Discussion Part 1  – Thursday, February 02 [2023], 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.  at Onsite Gallery (199 Richmond Street West) and Live Streamed Online   

Artists Rasa Smite & Raitis Smits, Grace Grothaus, Suzanne Morrissette and Lindsey french introduce their works exhibited in more-than-human and engage in a discussion about their practice. Moderated by Jane Tingley.

Register here: https://bit.ly/3G7xJ65

Multiplicities and plurality: Curator Jane Tingley in Conversation with Dr. Karen Houle  – Thursday, March 23 [2023], 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. at Onsite Gallery, 199 Richmond Street West   

Join Dr Karen Houle for an introductory talk on basic premises of Cartesian humanism followed by an exhibition tour discussion of the artworks in that context with Jane Tingley.   

Register here: https://bit.ly/3ZFhVPI

Screening of Forest Mind followed by Q+A with Ursula Biemann – Friday, April 07 [2023], 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. at Onsite Gallery (199 Richmond Street West) and Live Streamed Online   

Forest Mind (31 minutes) tackles the underlying concepts that distinguish the Indigenous knowledge systems from that of modern science, gauging the limits of rationalism which has dominated Western thinking for the last 200 years.  

Register here: https://bit.ly/3ipAWVC

more-than human Artists Panel Discussion Part 2  – Saturday, April 29 [2023], 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.  at Onsite Gallery (199 Richmond Street West) and Live Streamed Online   

Artists Joel Ong, Jane Tingley, Dolleen Tisawii’ashii Manning and Mary Bunch introduce their artworks their works exhibited in more-than-human and engage in a discussion about their practice. Moderated by Lisa Deanne Smith.

Register Here: https://bit.ly/3QwLRsW

Guided Nature and Forest Therapy Walk– Saturday, May 13 [2023], 12 p.m. to 3 p.m.  at High Park, 1873 Bloor Street West  

Join us for a slow paced, sensory-based guided walk that connects you with the healing power of the natural world. Space is limited, advance registration required.   

Registration is limited, free tickets will be released on 1 April [2023] at 12 p.m.: https://bit.ly/3XlyOga

There’s more.

Art/Sci Salon February 28 – May 7, 2023 events

From the January 30, 2023 Art/Sci Salon announcement (received via email), Note: Most of the in-person events take place in Toronto,Ontario,

Mark your calendar for the following events 
(more details coming up soon)

Artsci Dialogues

Ecology, Symbiosis, Human/Plant Relations 

Feb 25 [2023], 3:00-5:00 pm,
The Fields Institute for Research in Mathematical Sciences
[222 College Street · Toronto, Ontario]
In person and Online

Ethics of Care

March 25 [2023], 3:00-5:00 pm
The Fields Institute for Research in Mathematical sciences
In person and Online

Immersive Poetry Performance
Madhur Anand, Karen Houle
animated by Ilze (Kavi) Briede

Apr 5 [2023], 7:30-9:00 pm
The Fields Institute for Research in Mathematical Sciences

Day at rare Charitable Reserve
Panel with artists and scientists,
Workshop led by Dr. Alice Jarry
Guided walk by rare staff and affiliated scientists 

May 7th [2023], rare Charitable [Research] Reserve

[1679 Blair Rd, Cambridge ON]

Should you be curious, you can view the contents of the email here, as of February 1, 2023 (not sure how long this page will be available).

Canadian copyright quietly extended

As of December 30, 2022, Canadian copyright (one of the three elements of intellectual property; the other two: patents and trademarks) will be extended for another 20 years.

Mike Masnick in his November 29, 2022 posting on Techdirt explains why this is contrary to the intentions for establishing copyright in the first place, Note: Links have been removed,

… it cannot make sense to extend copyright terms retroactively. The entire point of copyright law is to provide a limited monopoly on making copies of the work as an incentive to get the work produced. Assuming the work was produced, that says that the bargain that was struck was clearly enough of an incentive for the creator. They were told they’d receive that period of exclusivity and thus they created the work.

Going back and retroactively extending copyright then serves no purpose. Creators need no incentive for works already created. The only thing it does is steal from the public. That’s because the “deal” setup by governments creating copyright terms is between the public (who is temporarily stripped of their right to share knowledge freely) and the creator. But if we extend copyright term retroactively, the public then has their end of the bargain (“you will be free to share these works freely after such-and-such a date”) changed, with no recourse or compensation.

Canada has quietly done it: extending copyrights on literary, dramatic or musical works and engravings from life of the author plus 50 years year to life of the author plus 70 years. [emphasis mine]

Masnick pointed to a November 23, 2022 posting by Andrea on the Internet Archive Canada blog for how this will affect the Canadian public,

… we now know that this date has been fixed as December 30, 2022, meaning that no new works will enter the Canadian public domain for the next 20 years.

A whole generation of creative works will remain under copyright. This might seem like a win for the estates of popular, internationally known authors, but what about more obscure Canadian works and creators? With circulation over time often being the indicator of ‘value’, many 20th century works are being deselected from physical library collections. …

Edward A. McCourt (1907-1972) is an example of just one of these Canadian creators. Raised in Alberta and a graduate of the University of Alberta, Edward went on to be a Rhodes Scholar in 1932. In 1980, Winnifred Bogaards wrote that:

“[H]e recorded over a period of thirty years his particular vision of the prairies, the region of Canada which had irrevocably shaped his own life. In that time he published five novels and forty-three short stories set (with some exceptions among the earliest stories) in Western Canada, three juvenile works based on the Riel Rebellion, a travel book on Saskatchewan, several radio plays adapted from his western stories, The Canadian West in Fiction (the first critical study of the literature of the prairies), and a biography of the 19th century English soldier and adventurer, Sir William F. Butler… “

In Bogaards’ analysis of his work, “Edward McCourt: A Reassessment” published in the journal Studies in Canadian Literature, she notes that while McCourt has suffered in obscurity, he is often cited along with his contemporaries Hugh MacLennan, Robertson Davies and Irving Layton; Canadian literary stars. Incidentally, we will also wait an additional 20 years for their works to enter the public domain. The work of Rebecca Giblin, Jacob Flynn, and Francois Petitjean, looking at ‘What Happens When Books Enter the Public Domain?’ is relevant here. Their study shows concretely and empirically that extending copyright has no benefit to the public at all, and only benefits a very few wealthy, well known estates and companies. This term extension will not encourage the publishers of McCourt’s works to invest in making his writing available to a new generation of readers.

This 20 year extension can trace its roots to the trade agreement between the US, Mexico, and Canada (USMCA) that replaced the previous North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), as of July 1, 2020. This is made clear in Michael Geist’s May 2, 2022 Law Bytes podcast where he discusses with Lucie Guibault the (then proposed) Canadian extension in the context of international standards,

Lucie Guibault is an internationally renowned expert on international copyright law, a Professor of Law and Associate Dean at Schulich School of Law at Dalhousie University, and the Associate Director of the school’s Law and Technology Institute.

It’s always good to get some context and in that spirit, here’s more from Michael Geist’s May 2, 2022 Law Bytes podcast,

… Despite recommendations from its own copyright review, students, teachers, librarians, and copyright experts to include a registration requirement [emphasis mine] for the additional 20 years of protection, the government chose to extend term without including protection to mitigate against the harms.

Geist’s podcast discussion with Guibault, where she explains what a ‘registration requirement’ is and how it would work plus more, runs for almost 27 mins. (May 2, 2022 Law Bytes podcast). One final comment, visual artists and musicians are also affected by copyright rules.

FrogHeart’s 2022 comes to an end as 2023 comes into view

I look forward to 2023 and hope it will be as stimulating as 2022 proved to be. Here’s an overview of the year that was on this blog:

Sounds of science

It seems 2022 was the year that science discovered the importance of sound and the possibilities of data sonification. Neither is new but this year seemed to signal a surge of interest or maybe I just happened to stumble onto more of the stories than usual.

This is not an exhaustive list, you can check out my ‘Music’ category for more here. I have tried to include audio files with the postings but it all depends on how accessible the researchers have made them.

Aliens on earth: machinic biology and/or biological machinery?

When I first started following stories in 2008 (?) about technology or machinery being integrated with the human body, it was mostly about assistive technologies such as neuroprosthetics. You’ll find most of this year’s material in the ‘Human Enhancement’ category or you can search the tag ‘machine/flesh’.

However, the line between biology and machine became a bit more blurry for me this year. You can see what’s happening in the titles listed below (you may recognize the zenobot story; there was an earlier version of xenobots featured here in 2021):

This was the story that shook me,

Are the aliens going to come from outer space or are we becoming the aliens?

Brains (biological and otherwise), AI, & our latest age of anxiety

As we integrate machines into our bodies, including our brains, there are new issues to consider:

  • Going blind when your neural implant company flirts with bankruptcy (long read) April 5, 2022 posting
  • US National Academies Sept. 22-23, 2022 workshop on techno, legal & ethical issues of brain-machine interfaces (BMIs) September 21, 2022 posting

I hope the US National Academies issues a report on their “Brain-Machine and Related Neural Interface Technologies: Scientific, Technical, Ethical, and Regulatory Issues – A Workshop” for 2023.

Meanwhile the race to create brainlike computers continues and I have a number of posts which can be found under the category of ‘neuromorphic engineering’ or you can use these search terms ‘brainlike computing’ and ‘memristors’.

On the artificial intelligence (AI) side of things, I finally broke down and added an ‘artificial intelligence (AI) category to this blog sometime between May and August 2021. Previously, I had used the ‘robots’ category as a catchall. There are other stories but these ones feature public engagement and policy (btw, it’s a Canadian Science Policy Centre event), respectively,

  • “The “We are AI” series gives citizens a primer on AI” March 23, 2022 posting
  • “Age of AI and Big Data – Impact on Justice, Human Rights and Privacy Zoom event on September 28, 2022 at 12 – 1:30 pm EDT” September 16, 2022 posting

These stories feature problems, which aren’t new but seem to be getting more attention,

While there have been issues over AI, the arts, and creativity previously, this year they sprang into high relief. The list starts with my two-part review of the Vancouver Art Gallery’s AI show; I share most of my concerns in part two. The third post covers intellectual property issues (mostly visual arts but literary arts get a nod too). The fourth post upends the discussion,

  • “Mad, bad, and dangerous to know? Artificial Intelligence at the Vancouver (Canada) Art Gallery (1 of 2): The Objects” July 28, 2022 posting
  • “Mad, bad, and dangerous to know? Artificial Intelligence at the Vancouver (Canada) Art Gallery (2 of 2): Meditations” July 28, 2022 posting
  • “AI (artificial intelligence) and art ethics: a debate + a Botto (AI artist) October 2022 exhibition in the Uk” October 24, 2022 posting
  • Should AI algorithms get patents for their inventions and is anyone talking about copyright for texts written by AI algorithms? August 30, 2022 posting

Interestingly, most of the concerns seem to be coming from the visual and literary arts communities; I haven’t come across major concerns from the music community. (The curious can check out Vancouver’s Metacreation Lab for Artificial Intelligence [located on a Simon Fraser University campus]. I haven’t seen any cautionary or warning essays there; it’s run by an AI and creativity enthusiast [professor Philippe Pasquier]. The dominant but not sole focus is art, i.e., music and AI.)

There is a ‘new kid on the block’ which has been attracting a lot of attention this month. If you’re curious about the latest and greatest AI anxiety,

  • Peter Csathy’s December 21, 2022 Yahoo News article (originally published in The WRAP) makes this proclamation in the headline “Chat GPT Proves That AI Could Be a Major Threat to Hollywood Creatives – and Not Just Below the Line | PRO Insight”
  • Mouhamad Rachini’s December 15, 2022 article for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s (CBC) online news overs a more generalized overview of the ‘new kid’ along with an embedded CBC Radio file which runs approximately 19 mins. 30 secs. It’s titled “ChatGPT a ‘landmark event’ for AI, but what does it mean for the future of human labour and disinformation?” The chat bot’s developer, OpenAI, has been mentioned here many times including the previously listed July 28, 2022 posting (part two of the VAG review) and the October 24, 2022 posting.

Opposite world (quantum physics in Canada)

Quantum computing made more of an impact here (my blog) than usual. it started in 2021 with the announcement of a National Quantum Strategy in the Canadian federal government budget for that year and gained some momentum in 2022:

  • “Quantum Mechanics & Gravity conference (August 15 – 19, 2022) launches Vancouver (Canada)-based Quantum Gravity Institute and more” July 26, 2022 posting Note: This turned into one of my ‘in depth’ pieces where I comment on the ‘Canadian quantum scene’ and highlight the appointment of an expert panel for the Council of Canada Academies’ report on Quantum Technologies.
  • “Bank of Canada and Multiverse Computing model complex networks & cryptocurrencies with quantum computing” July 25, 2022 posting
  • “Canada, quantum technology, and a public relations campaign?” December 29, 2022 posting

This one was a bit of a puzzle with regard to placement in this end-of-year review, it’s quantum but it’s also about brainlike computing

It’s getting hot in here

Fusion energy made some news this year.

There’s a Vancouver area company, General Fusion, highlighted in both postings and the October posting includes an embedded video of Canadian-born rapper Baba Brinkman’s “You Must LENR” [L ow E nergy N uclear R eactions or sometimes L attice E nabled N anoscale R eactions or Cold Fusion or CANR (C hemically A ssisted N uclear R eactions)].

BTW, fusion energy can generate temperatures up to 150 million degrees Celsius.

Ukraine, science, war, and unintended consequences

Here’s what you might expect,

These are the unintended consequences (from Rachel Kyte’s, Dean of the Fletcher School, Tufts University, December 26, 2022 essay on The Conversation [h/t December 27, 2022 news item on phys.org]), Note: Links have been removed,

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war on Ukraine has reverberated through Europe and spread to other countries that have long been dependent on the region for natural gas. But while oil-producing countries and gas lobbyists are arguing for more drilling, global energy investments reflect a quickening transition to cleaner energy. [emphasis mine]

Call it the Putin effect – Russia’s war is speeding up the global shift away from fossil fuels.

In December [2022?], the International Energy Agency [IEA] published two important reports that point to the future of renewable energy.

First, the IEA revised its projection of renewable energy growth upward by 30%. It now expects the world to install as much solar and wind power in the next five years as it installed in the past 50 years.

The second report showed that energy use is becoming more efficient globally, with efficiency increasing by about 2% per year. As energy analyst Kingsmill Bond at the energy research group RMI noted, the two reports together suggest that fossil fuel demand may have peaked. While some low-income countries have been eager for deals to tap their fossil fuel resources, the IEA warns that new fossil fuel production risks becoming stranded, or uneconomic, in the next 20 years.

Kyte’s essay is not all ‘sweetness and light’ but it does provide a little optimism.

Kudos, nanotechnology, culture (pop & otherwise), fun, and a farewell in 2022

This one was a surprise for me,

Sometimes I like to know where the money comes from and I was delighted to learn of the Ărramăt Project funded through the federal government’s New Frontiers in Research Fund (NFRF). Here’s more about the Ărramăt Project from the February 14, 2022 posting,

“The Ărramăt Project is about respecting the inherent dignity and interconnectedness of peoples and Mother Earth, life and livelihood, identity and expression, biodiversity and sustainability, and stewardship and well-being. Arramăt is a word from the Tamasheq language spoken by the Tuareg people of the Sahel and Sahara regions which reflects this holistic worldview.” (Mariam Wallet Aboubakrine)

Over 150 Indigenous organizations, universities, and other partners will work together to highlight the complex problems of biodiversity loss and its implications for health and well-being. The project Team will take a broad approach and be inclusive of many different worldviews and methods for research (i.e., intersectionality, interdisciplinary, transdisciplinary). Activities will occur in 70 different kinds of ecosystems that are also spiritually, culturally, and economically important to Indigenous Peoples.

The project is led by Indigenous scholars and activists …

Kudos to the federal government and all those involved in the Salmon science camps, the Ărramăt Project, and other NFRF projects.

There are many other nanotechnology posts here but this appeals to my need for something lighter at this point,

  • “Say goodbye to crunchy (ice crystal-laden) in ice cream thanks to cellulose nanocrystals (CNC)” August 22, 2022 posting

The following posts tend to be culture-related, high and/or low but always with a science/nanotechnology edge,

Sadly, it looks like 2022 is the last year that Ada Lovelace Day is to be celebrated.

… this year’s Ada Lovelace Day is the final such event due to lack of financial backing. Suw Charman-Anderson told the BBC [British Broadcasting Corporation] the reason it was now coming to an end was:

You can read more about it here:

In the rearview mirror

A few things that didn’t fit under the previous heads but stood out for me this year. Science podcasts, which were a big feature in 2021, also proliferated in 2022. I think they might have peaked and now (in 2023) we’ll see what survives.

Nanotechnology, the main subject on this blog, continues to be investigated and increasingly integrated into products. You can search the ‘nanotechnology’ category here for posts of interest something I just tried. It surprises even me (I should know better) how broadly nanotechnology is researched and applied.

If you want a nice tidy list, Hamish Johnston in a December 29, 2022 posting on the Physics World Materials blog has this “Materials and nanotechnology: our favourite research in 2022,” Note: Links have been removed,

“Inherited nanobionics” makes its debut

The integration of nanomaterials with living organisms is a hot topic, which is why this research on “inherited nanobionics” is on our list. Ardemis Boghossian at EPFL [École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne] in Switzerland and colleagues have shown that certain bacteria will take up single-walled carbon nanotubes (SWCNTs). What is more, when the bacteria cells split, the SWCNTs are distributed amongst the daughter cells. The team also found that bacteria containing SWCNTs produce a significantly more electricity when illuminated with light than do bacteria without nanotubes. As a result, the technique could be used to grow living solar cells, which as well as generating clean energy, also have a negative carbon footprint when it comes to manufacturing.

Getting to back to Canada, I’m finding Saskatchewan featured more prominently here. They do a good job of promoting their science, especially the folks at the Canadian Light Source (CLS), Canada’s synchrotron, in Saskatoon. Canadian live science outreach events seeming to be coming back (slowly). Cautious organizers (who have a few dollars to spare) are also enthusiastic about hybrid events which combine online and live outreach.

After what seems like a long pause, I’m stumbling across more international news, e.g. “Nigeria and its nanotechnology research” published December 19, 2022 and “China and nanotechnology” published September 6, 2022. I think there’s also an Iran piece here somewhere.

With that …

Making resolutions in the dark

Hopefully this year I will catch up with the Council of Canadian Academies (CCA) output and finally review a few of their 2021 reports such as Leaps and Boundaries; a report on artificial intelligence applied to science inquiry and, perhaps, Powering Discovery; a report on research funding and Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada.

Given what appears to a renewed campaign to have germline editing (gene editing which affects all of your descendants) approved in Canada, I might even reach back to a late 2020 CCA report, Research to Reality; somatic gene and engineered cell therapies. it’s not the same as germline editing but gene editing exists on a continuum.

For anyone who wants to see the CCA reports for themselves they can be found here (both in progress and completed).

I’m also going to be paying more attention to how public relations and special interests influence what science is covered and how it’s covered. In doing this 2022 roundup, I noticed that I featured an overview of fusion energy not long before the breakthrough. Indirect influence on this blog?

My post was precipitated by an article by Alex Pasternak in Fast Company. I’m wondering what precipitated Alex Pasternack’s interest in fusion energy since his self-description on the Huffington Post website states this “… focus on the intersections of science, technology, media, politics, and culture. My writing about those and other topics—transportation, design, media, architecture, environment, psychology, art, music … .”

He might simply have received a press release that stimulated his imagination and/or been approached by a communications specialist or publicists with an idea. There’s a reason for why there are so many public relations/media relations jobs and agencies.

Que sera, sera (Whatever will be, will be)

I can confidently predict that 2023 has some surprises in store. I can also confidently predict that the European Union’s big research projects (1B Euros each in funding for the Graphene Flagship and Human Brain Project over a ten year period) will sunset in 2023, ten years after they were first announced in 2013. Unless, the powers that be extend the funding past 2023.

I expect the Canadian quantum community to provide more fodder for me in the form of a 2023 report on Quantum Technologies from the Council of Canadian academies, if nothing else otherwise.

I’ve already featured these 2023 science events but just in case you missed them,

  • 2023 Preview: Bill Nye the Science Guy’s live show and Marvel Avengers S.T.A.T.I.O.N. (Scientific Training And Tactical Intelligence Operative Network) coming to Vancouver (Canada) November 24, 2022 posting
  • September 2023: Auckland, Aotearoa New Zealand set to welcome women in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) November 15, 2022 posting

Getting back to this blog, it may not seem like a new year during the first few weeks of 2023 as I have quite the stockpile of draft posts. At this point I have drafts that are dated from June 2022 and expect to be burning through them so as not to fall further behind but will be interspersing them, occasionally, with more current posts.

Most importantly: a big thank you to everyone who drops by and reads (and sometimes even comments) on my posts!!! it’s very much appreciated and on that note: I wish you all the best for 2023.

Art and 5G at museums in Turin (Italy)

Caption: In the framework of EU-funded project 5GTours, R1 humanoid robot tested at GAM (Turin) its ability to navigate and interact with visitors at the 20th-century collections, accompanying them to explore a selection of the museum’s most representative works, such as Andy Warhol’s “Orange car crash”. The robot has been designed and developed by IIT, while the 5G connection was set up by TIM using Ericsson technology.. Credit: IIT-Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia/GAM

This May 27, 2022 Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia (IIT) press release on EurekAlert offers an intriguing view into the potential for robots in art galleries,

Robotics, 5G and art: during the month of May visitors to the Turin’s art museums, Turin Civic Gallery of Modern and Contemporary Art (GAM) and Turin City Museum of Ancient Art (Palazzo Madama), had the opportunity to be part of various experiments based on 5G-network technology. Interactive technologies and robots were the focus of an innovative enjoyment of the art collections, with a great appreciation from the public.

Visitors to the GAM and to Palazzo Madama were provided with a number of engaging interactive experiences made possible through a significant collaboration between public and private organisations, which have been working together for more than three years to experiment the potential of new 5G technology in the framework of the EU-funded project 5GTours (https://5gtours.eu/).

The demonstrations set up in Turin led to the creation of innovative applications in the tourism and culture sectors that can easily be replicated in any artistic or museum context.

In both venues, visitors had the opportunity to meet R1, the humanoid robot designed by the IIT-Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia (Italian Institute of Technology) in Genova and created to operate in domestic and professional environments, whose autonomous and remote navigation system is well integrated with the bandwidth and latency offered by a 5G connection. R1, the robot – 1 metre 25 cm in height, weighing 50 kg, made 50% from plastic and 50% from carbon fibre and metal – is able to describe the works and answer questions regarding the artist or the period in history to which the work belongs. 5G connectivity is required in order to transmit the considerable quantity of data generated by the robot’s sensors and the algorithms that handle environmental perception, autonomous navigation and dialogue to external processing systems with extremely rapid response times.

At Palazzo Madama R1 humanoid robot led a guided tour of the Ceramics Room, while at GAM it was available to visitors of the twentieth-century collections, accompanying them to explore a selection of the museum’s most representative works. R1 robot explained and responded to questions about six relevant paintings: Felice Casorati’s “Daphne a Pavarolo”, Osvaldo Lucini’s “Uccello 2”, Marc Chagall’s “Dans mon pays”, Alberto Burri’s “Sacco”, Andy Warhol’s “Orange car crash” and Mario Merz’s “Che Fare?”.

Moreover, visitors – with the use of Meta Quest visors also connected to the 5G network – were required to solve a puzzle, putting the paintings in the Guards’ Room back into their frames. With these devices, the works in the hall, which in reality cannot be touched, can be handled and moved virtually. Lastly, the visitors involved had the opportunity to visit the underground spaces of Palazzo Madama with the mini-robot Double 3, which uses the 5G network to move reactively and precisely within the narrow spaces.

At GAM a class of students from a local school were able to remotely connect and manoeuvre the mini-robot Double 3 located in the rooms of the twentieth-century collections at the GAM directly from their classroom. A treasure hunt held in the museum with the participants never leaving the school.

In the Educational Area, a group of youngsters had the opportunity of collaborating in the painting of a virtual work of art on a large technological wall, drawing inspiration from works by Nicola De Maria.

The 5G network solutions created at the GAM and at Palazzo Madama by TIM [Telecom Italia] with Ericsson technology in collaboration with the City of Turin and the Turin Museum Foundation, guarantee constant high-speed transmission and extremely low latency. These solutions, which comply with 3GPP standard, are extremely flexible in terms of setting up and use. In the case of Palazzo Madama, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, tailor-made installations were designed, using apparatus and solutions that perfectly integrate with the museum spaces, while at the same time guaranteeing extremely high performance. At the GAM, the Radio Dot System has been implemented, a new 5G solution from Ericsson that is small enough to be held in the palm of a hand, and that provides network coverage and performance required for busy indoor areas. Thanks to these activities, Turin is ever increasingly playing a role as an open-air laboratory for urban innovation; since 2021 it has been the location of the “House of Emerging Technology – CTE NEXT”, a veritable centre for technology transfer via 5G and for emerging technologies coordinated by the Municipality of Turin and financed by the Ministry for Economic Development.

Through these solutions, Palazzo Madama and the GAM are now unique examples of technology in Italy and a rare example on a European level of museum buildings with full 5G coverage.

The experience was the result of the project financed by the European Union, 5G-TOURS 5G smarT mObility, media and e-health for toURists and citizenS”, the city of Turin – Department and Directorate of Innovation, in collaboration with the Department of Culture – Ericsson, TIM [Telecom Italia], the Turin Museum Foundation and the IIT-Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia (Italian Institute of Technology) of Genova, with the contribution of the international partners Atos and Samsung. The 5G coverage within the two museums was set up by TIM using Ericsson technology, solutions that perfectly integrated with the areas within the two museums structures.

Just in case you missed the link in the press release, you can find more information about this European Union Horizon 2020-funded 5G project, here at 5G TOURS (SmarT mObility, media and e-health for toURists and citizenS). You can find out more about the grant, e.g., this project sunset in July 2022, here.

AI (artificial intelligence) and art ethics: a debate + a Botto (AI artist) October 2022 exhibition in the Uk

Who is an artist? What is an artist? Can everyone be an artist? These are the kinds of questions you can expect with the rise of artificially intelligent artists/collaborators. Of course, these same questions have been asked many times before the rise of AI (artificial intelligence) agents/programs in the field of visual art. Each time the questions are raised is an opportunity to examine our beliefs from a different perspective. And, not to be forgotten, there are questions about money.

The shock

First, the ‘art’,

The winning work. Colorado State Fair 2022. Screengrab from Discord [downloaded from https://www.artnews.com/art-news/news/colorado-state-fair-ai-generated-artwork-controversy-1234638022/]

Shanti Escalante-De Mattei’s September 1, 2022 article for ArtNews.com provides an overview of the latest AI art controversy (Note: A link has been removed),

The debate around AI art went viral once again when a man won first place at the Colorado State Fair’s art competition in the digital category with a work he made using text-to-image AI generator Midjourney.

Twitter user and digital artist Genel Jumalon tweeted out a screenshot from a Discord channel in which user Sincarnate, aka game designer Jason Allen, celebrated his win at the fair. Jumalon wrote, “Someone entered an art competition with an AI-generated piece and won the first prize. Yeah that’s pretty fucking shitty.”

The comments on the post range from despair and anger as artists, both digital and traditional, worry that their livelihoods might be at stake after years of believing that creative work would be safe from AI-driven automation. [emphasis mine]

Rachel Metz’s September 3, 2022 article for CNN provides more details about how the work was generated (Note: Links have been removed),

Jason M. Allen was almost too nervous to enter his first art competition. Now, his award-winning image is sparking controversy about whether art can be generated by a computer, and what, exactly, it means to be an artist.

In August [2022], Allen, a game designer who lives in Pueblo West, Colorado, won first place in the emerging artist division’s “digital arts/digitally-manipulated photography” category at the Colorado State Fair Fine Arts Competition. His winning image, titled “Théâtre D’opéra Spatial” (French for “Space Opera Theater”), was made with Midjourney — an artificial intelligence system that can produce detailed images when fed written prompts. A $300 prize accompanied his win.

Allen’s winning image looks like a bright, surreal cross between a Renaissance and steampunk painting. It’s one of three such images he entered in the competition. In total, 11 people entered 18 pieces of art in the same category in the emerging artist division.

The definition for the category in which Allen competed states that digital art refers to works that use “digital technology as part of the creative or presentation process.” Allen stated that Midjourney was used to create his image when he entered the contest, he said.

The newness of these tools, how they’re used to produce images, and, in some cases, the gatekeeping for access to some of the most powerful ones has led to debates about whether they can truly make art or assist humans in making art.

This came into sharp focus for Allen not long after his win. Allen had posted excitedly about his win on Midjourney’s Discord server on August 25 [2022], along with pictures of his three entries; it went viral on Twitter days later, with many artists angered by Allen’s win because of his use of AI to create the image, as a story by Vice’s Motherboard reported earlier this week.

“This sucks for the exact same reason we don’t let robots participate in the Olympics,” one Twitter user wrote.

“This is the literal definition of ‘pressed a few buttons to make a digital art piece’,” another Tweeted. “AI artwork is the ‘banana taped to the wall’ of the digital world now.”

Yet while Allen didn’t use a paintbrush to create his winning piece, there was plenty of work involved, he said.

“It’s not like you’re just smashing words together and winning competitions,” he said.

You can feed a phrase like “an oil painting of an angry strawberry” to Midjourney and receive several images from the AI system within seconds, but Allen’s process wasn’t that simple. To get the final three images he entered in the competition, he said, took more than 80 hours.

First, he said, he played around with phrasing that led Midjourney to generate images of women in frilly dresses and space helmets — he was trying to mash up Victorian-style costuming with space themes, he said. Over time, with many slight tweaks to his written prompt (such as to adjust lighting and color harmony), he created 900 iterations of what led to his final three images. He cleaned up those three images in Photoshop, such as by giving one of the female figures in his winning image a head with wavy, dark hair after Midjourney had rendered her headless. Then he ran the images through another software program called Gigapixel AI that can improve resolution and had the images printed on canvas at a local print shop.

Ars Technica has run a number of articles on the subject of Art and AI, Benj Edwards in an August 31, 2022 article seems to have been one of the first to comment on Jason Allen’s win (Note 1: Links have been removed; Note 2: Look at how Edwards identifies Jason Allen as an artist),

A synthetic media artist named Jason Allen entered AI-generated artwork into the Colorado State Fair fine arts competition and announced last week that he won first place in the Digital Arts/Digitally Manipulated Photography category, Vice reported Wednesday [August 31, 2022?] based on a viral tweet.

Allen’s victory prompted lively discussions on Twitter, Reddit, and the Midjourney Discord server about the nature of art and what it means to be an artist. Some commenters think human artistry is doomed thanks to AI and that all artists are destined to be replaced by machines. Others think art will evolve and adapt with new technologies that come along, citing synthesizers in music. It’s a hot debate that Wired covered in July [2022].

It’s worth noting that the invention of the camera in the 1800s prompted similar criticism related to the medium of photography, since the camera seemingly did all the work compared to an artist that labored to craft an artwork by hand with a brush or pencil. Some feared that painters would forever become obsolete with the advent of color photography. In some applications, photography replaced more laborious illustration methods (such as engraving), but human fine art painters are still around today.

Benj Edwards in a September 12, 2022 article for Ars Technica examines how some art communities are responding (Note: Links have been removed),

Confronted with an overwhelming amount of artificial-intelligence-generated artwork flooding in, some online art communities have taken dramatic steps to ban or curb its presence on their sites, including Newgrounds, Inkblot Art, and Fur Affinity, according to Andy Baio of Waxy.org.

Baio, who has been following AI art ethics closely on his blog, first noticed the bans and reported about them on Friday [Sept. 9, 2022?]. …

The arrival of widely available image synthesis models such as Midjourney and Stable Diffusion has provoked an intense online battle between artists who view AI-assisted artwork as a form of theft (more on that below) and artists who enthusiastically embrace the new creative tools.

… a quickly evolving debate about how art communities (and art professionals) can adapt to software that can potentially produce unlimited works of beautiful art at a rate that no human working without the tools could match.

A few weeks ago, some artists began discovering their artwork in the Stable Diffusion data set, and they weren’t happy about it. Charlie Warzel wrote a detailed report about these reactions for The Atlantic last week [September 7, 2022]. With battle lines being drawn firmly in the sand and new AI creativity tools coming out steadily, this debate will likely continue for some time to come.

Filthy lucre becomes more prominent in the conversation

Lizzie O’Leary in a September 12, 2022 article for Fast Company presents a transcript of an interview (from the TBD podcast) she conducted with Drew Harwell, tech reporter covering A.I. for Washington Post) about the ‘Jason Allen’ win,

I’m struck by how quickly these art A.I.s are advancing. DALL-E was released in January of last year and there were some pretty basic images. And then, a year later, DALL-E 2 is using complex, faster methods. Midjourney, the one Jason Allen used, has a feature that allows you to upscale and downscale images. Where is this sudden supply and demand for A.I. art coming from?

You could look back to five years ago when they had these text-to-image generators and the output would be really crude. You could sort of see what the A.I. was trying to get at, but we’ve only really been able to cross that photorealistic uncanny valley in the last year or so. And I think the things that have contributed to that are, one, better data. You’re seeing people invest a lot of money and brainpower and resources into adding more stuff into bigger data sets. We have whole groups that are taking every image they can get on the internet. Billions, billions of images from Pinterest and Amazon and Facebook. You have bigger data sets, so the A.I. is learning more. You also have better computing power, and those are the two ingredients to any good piece of A.I. So now you have A.I. that is not only trained to understand the world a little bit better, but it can now really quickly spit out a very finely detailed generated image.

Is there any way to know, when you look at a piece of A.I. art, what images it referenced to create what it’s doing? Or is it just so vast that you can’t kind of unspool it backward?

When you’re doing an image that’s totally generated out of nowhere, it’s taking bits of information from billions of images. It’s creating it in a much more sophisticated way so that it’s really hard to unspool.

Art generated by A.I. isn’t just a gee-whiz phenomenon, something that wins prizes, or even a fascinating subject for debate—it has valuable commercial uses, too. Some that are a little frightening if you’re, say, a graphic designer.

You’re already starting to see some of these images illustrating news articles, being used as logos for companies, being used in the form of stock art for small businesses and websites. Anything where somebody would’ve gone and paid an illustrator or graphic designer or artist to make something, they can now go to this A.I. and create something in a few seconds that is maybe not perfect, maybe would be beaten by a human in a head-to-head, but is good enough. From a commercial perspective, that’s scary, because we have an industry of people whose whole job is to create images, now running up against A.I.

And the A.I., again, in the last five years, the A.I. has gotten better and better. It’s still not perfect. I don’t think it’ll ever be perfect, whatever that looks like. It processes information in a different, maybe more literal, way than a human. I think human artists will still sort of have the upper hand in being able to imagine things a little more outside of the box. And yet, if you’re just looking for three people in a classroom or a pretty simple logo, you’re going to go to A.I. and you’re going to take potentially a job away from a freelancer whom you would’ve given it to 10 years ago.

I can see a use case here in marketing, in advertising. The A.I. doesn’t need health insurance, it doesn’t need paid vacation days, and I really do wonder about this idea that the A.I. could replace the jobs of visual artists. Do you think that is a legitimate fear, or is that overwrought at this moment?

I think it is a legitimate fear. When something can mirror your skill set, not 100 percent of the way, but enough of the way that it could replace you, that’s an issue. Do these A.I. creators have any kind of moral responsibility to not create it because it could put people out of jobs? I think that’s a debate, but I don’t think they see it that way. They see it like they’re just creating the new generation of digital camera, the new generation of Photoshop. But I think it is worth worrying about because even compared with cameras and Photoshop, the A.I. is a little bit more of the full package and it is so accessible and so hard to match in terms. It’s really going to be up to human artists to find some way to differentiate themselves from the A.I.

This is making me wonder about the humans underneath the data sets that the A.I. is trained on. The criticism is, of course, that these businesses are making money off thousands of artists’ work without their consent or knowledge and it undermines their work. Some people looked at the Stable Diffusion and they didn’t have access to its whole data set, but they found that Thomas Kinkade, the landscape painter, was the most referenced artist in the data set. Is the A.I. just piggybacking? And if it’s not Thomas Kinkade, if it’s someone who’s alive, are they piggybacking on that person’s work without that person getting paid?

Here’s a bit more on the topic of money and art in a September 19, 2022 article by John Herrman for New York Magazine. First, he starts with the literary arts, Note: Links have been removed,

Artificial-intelligence experts are excited about the progress of the past few years. You can tell! They’ve been telling reporters things like “Everything’s in bloom,” “Billions of lives will be affected,” and “I know a person when I talk to it — it doesn’t matter whether they have a brain made of meat in their head.”

We don’t have to take their word for it, though. Recently, AI-powered tools have been making themselves known directly to the public, flooding our social feeds with bizarre and shocking and often very funny machine-generated content. OpenAI’s GPT-3 took simple text prompts — to write a news article about AI or to imagine a rose ceremony from The Bachelor in Middle English — and produced convincing results.

Deepfakes graduated from a looming threat to something an enterprising teenager can put together for a TikTok, and chatbots are occasionally sending their creators into crisis.

More widespread, and probably most evocative of a creative artificial intelligence, is the new crop of image-creation tools, including DALL-E, Imagen, Craiyon, and Midjourney, which all do versions of the same thing. You ask them to render something. Then, with models trained on vast sets of images gathered from around the web and elsewhere, they try — “Bart Simpson in the style of Soviet statuary”; “goldendoodle megafauna in the streets of Chelsea”; “a spaghetti dinner in hell”; “a logo for a carpet-cleaning company, blue and red, round”; “the meaning of life.”

This flood of machine-generated media has already altered the discourse around AI for the better, probably, though it couldn’t have been much worse. In contrast with the glib intra-VC debate about avoiding human enslavement by a future superintelligence, discussions about image-generation technology have been driven by users and artists and focus on labor, intellectual property, AI bias, and the ethics of artistic borrowing and reproduction [emphasis mine]. Early controversies have cut to the chase: Is the guy who entered generated art into a fine-art contest in Colorado (and won!) an asshole? Artists and designers who already feel underappreciated or exploited in their industries — from concept artists in gaming and film and TV to freelance logo designers — are understandably concerned about automation. Some art communities and marketplaces have banned AI-generated images entirely.

Requests are effectively thrown into “a giant swirling whirlpool” of “10,000 graphics cards,” Holz [David Holz, Midjourney founder] said, after which users gradually watch them take shape, gaining sharpness but also changing form as Midjourney refines its work.

This hints at an externality beyond the worlds of art and design. “Almost all the money goes to paying for those machines,” Holz said. New users are given a small number of free image generations before they’re cut off and asked to pay; each request initiates a massive computational task, which means using a lot of electricity.

High compute costs [emphasis mine] — which are largely energy costs — are why other services have been cautious about adding new users. …

Another Midjourney user, Gila von Meissner, is a graphic designer and children’s-book author-illustrator from “the boondocks in north Germany.” Her agent is currently shopping around a book that combines generated images with her own art and characters. Like Pluckebaum [Brian Pluckebaum who works in automotive-semiconductor marketing and designs board games], she brought up the balance of power with publishers. “Picture books pay peanuts,” she said. “Most illustrators struggle financially.” Why not make the work easier and faster? “It’s my character, my edits on the AI backgrounds, my voice, and my story.” A process that took months now takes a week, she said. “Does that make it less original?”

User MoeHong, a graphic designer and typographer for the state of California, has been using Midjourney to make what he called generic illustrations (“backgrounds, people at work, kids at school, etc.”) for government websites, pamphlets, and literature: “I get some of the benefits of using custom art — not that we have a budget for commissions! — without the paying-an-artist part.” He said he has mostly replaced stock art, but he’s not entirely comfortable with the situation. “I have a number of friends who are commercial illustrators, and I’ve been very careful not to show them what I’ve made,” he said. He’s convinced that tools like this could eventually put people in his trade out of work. “But I’m already in my 50s,” he said, “and I hope I’ll be gone by the time that happens.”

Fan club

The last article I’m featuring here is a September 15, 2021 piece by Agnieszka Cichocka for DailyArt, which provides good, brief descriptions of algorithms, generative creative networks, machine learning, artificial neural networks, and more. She is an enthusiast (Note: Links have been removed),

I keep wondering if Leonardo da Vinci, who, in my opinion, was the most forward thinking artist of all time, would have ever imagined that art would one day be created by AI. He worked on numerous ideas and was constantly experimenting, and, although some were failures, he persistently tried new products, helping to move our world forward. Without such people, progress would not be possible. 

Machine Learning

As humans, we learn by acquiring knowledge through observations, senses, experiences, etc. This is similar to computers. Machine learning is a process in which a computer system learns how to perform a task better in two ways—either through exposure to environments that provide punishments and rewards (reinforcement learning) or by training with specific data sets (the system learns automatically and improves from previous experiences). Both methods help the systems improve their accuracy. Machines then use patterns and attempt to make an accurate analysis of things they have not seen before. To give an example, let’s say we feed the computer with thousands of photos of a dog. Consequently, it can learn what a dog looks like based on those. Later, even when faced with a picture it has never seen before, it can tell that the photo shows a dog.

If you want to see some creative machine learning experiments in art, check out ML x ART. This is a website with hundreds of artworks created using AI tools.

Some thoughts

As the saying goes “a picture is worth a thousand words” and, now, It seems that pictures will be made from words or so suggests the example of Jason M. Allen feeding prompts to the AI system Midjourney.

I suspect (as others have suggested) that in the end, artists who use AI systems will be absorbed into the art world in much the same way as artists who use photography, or are considered performance artists and/or conceptual artists, and/or use video have been absorbed. There will be some displacements and discomfort as the questions I opened this posting with (Who is an artist? What is an artist? Can everyone be an artist?) are passionately discussed and considered. Underlying many of these questions is the issue of money.

The impact on people’s livelihoods is cheering or concerning depending on how the AI system is being used. Herrman’s September 19, 2022 article highlights two examples that focus on graphic designers. Gila von Meissner, the illustrator and designer, who uses her own art to illustrate her children’s books in a faster, more cost effective way with an AI system and MoeHong, a graphic designer for the state of California, who uses an AI system to make ‘customized generic art’ for which the state government doesn’t have to pay.

So far, the focus has been on Midjourney and other AI agents that have been created by developers for use by visual artists and writers. What happens when the visual artist or the writer is the developer? A September 12, 2022 article by Brandon Scott Roye for Cool Hunting approaches the question (Note: Links have been removed),

Mario Klingemann and Sasha Stiles on Semi-Autonomous AI Artists

An artist and engineer at the forefront of generating AI artwork, Mario Klingemann and first-generation Kalmyk-American poet, artist and researcher Sasha Stiles both approach AI from a more human, personal angle. Creators of semi-autonomous systems, both Klingemann and Stiles are the minds behind Botto and Technelegy, respectively. They are both artists in their own right, but their creations are too. Within web3, the identity of the “artist” who creates with visuals and the “writer” who creates with words is enjoying a foundational shift and expansion. Many have fashioned themselves a new title as “engineer.”

Based on their primary identities as an artist and poet, Klingemann and Stiles face the conundrum of becoming engineers who design the tools, rather than artists responsible for the final piece. They now have the ability to remove themselves from influencing inputs and outputs.

If you have time, I suggest reading Roye’s September 12, 2022 article as it provides some very interesting ideas although I don’t necessarily agree with them, e.g., “They now have the ability to remove themselves from influencing inputs and outputs.” Anyone who’s following the ethics discussion around AI knows that biases are built into the algorithms whether we like it or not. As for artists and writers calling themselves ‘engineers’, they may get a little resistance from the engineering community.

As users of open source software, Klingemann and Stiles should not have to worry too much about intellectual property. However, it seems copyright for the actual works and patents for the software could raise some interesting issues especially since money is involved.

In a March 10, 2022 article by Shraddha Nair for Stir World, Klingemann claims to have made over $1M from auctions of Botto’s artworks. it’s not clear to me where Botto obtains its library of images for future use (which may signal a potential problem); Stiles’ Technelegy creates poems from prompts using its library of her poems. (For the curious, I have an August 30, 2022 post “Should AI algorithms get patents for their inventions and is anyone talking about copyright for texts written by AI algorithms?” which explores some of the issues around patents.)

Who gets the patent and/or the copyright? Assuming you and I are employing machine learning to train our AI agents separately, could there be an argument that if my version of the AI is different than yours and proves more popular with other content creators/ artists that I should own/share the patent to the software and rights to whatever the software produces?

Getting back to Herrman’s comment about high compute costs and energy, we seem to have an insatiable appetite for energy and that is not only a high cost financially but also environmentally.

Botto exhibition

Here’s more about Klingemann’s artist exhibition by Botto (from an October 6, 2022 announcement received via email),

Mario Klingemann is a pioneering figurehead in the field of AI art,
working deep in the field of Machine Learning. Governed by a community
of 5,000 people, Klingemann developed Botto around an idea of creating
an autonomous entity that is able to be creative and co-creative.
Inspired by Goethe’s artificial man in Faust, Botto is a genderless AI
entity that is guided by an international community and art historical
trends. Botto creates 350 art pieces per week that are presented to its
community. Members of the community give feedback on these art fragments
by voting, expressing their individual preferences on what is
aesthetically pleasing to them. Then collectively the votes are used as
feedback for Botto’s generative algorithm, dictating what direction
Botto should take in its next series of art pieces.

The creative capacity of its algorithm is far beyond the capacities of
an individual to combine and find relationships within all the
information available to the AI. Botto faces similar issues as a human
artist, and it is programmed to self-reflect and ask, “I’ve created
this type of work before. What can I show them that’s different this
week?”

Once a week, Botto auctions the art fragment with the most votes on
SuperRare. All proceeds from the auction go back to the community. The
AI artist auctioned its first three pieces, Asymmetrical Liberation,
Scene Precede, and Trickery Contagion for more than $900,000 dollars,
the most successful AI artist premiere. Today, Botto has produced
upwards of 22 artworks and current sales have generated over $2 million
in total
[emphasis mine].

From March 2022 when Botto had made $1M to October 2022 where it’s made over $2M. It seems Botto is a very financially successful artist.

Botto: A Whole Year of Co-Creation

This exhibition (October 26 – 30, 2022) is being held in London, England at this location:

The Department Store, Brixton 248 Ferndale Road London SW9 8FR United Kingdom

Enjoy!

Art and science, Salk Institute and Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), to study museum visitor behaviour

The Salk Institute wouldn’t have been my first guess for the science partner in this art and science project, which will be examining museum visitor behaviour. From the September 28, 2022 Salk Institute news release (also on EurekAlert and a copy received via email) announcing the project grant,

Clay vessels of innumerable shapes and sizes come to life as they illuminate a rich history of symbolic meanings and identity. Some museum visitors may lean in to get a better view, while others converse with their friends over the rich hues. Exhibition designers have long wondered how the human brain senses, perceives, and learns in the rich environment of a museum gallery.

In a synthesis of science and art, Salk scientists have teamed up with curators and design experts at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) to study how nearly 100,000 museum visitors respond to exhibition design. The goal of the project, funded by a $900,000 grant from the National Science Foundation, is to better understand how people perceive, make choices in, interact with, and learn from a complex environment, and to further enhance the educational mission of museums through evidence-based design strategies.   

The Salk team is led by Professor Thomas Albright, Salk Fellow Talmo Pereira, and Staff Scientist Sergei Gepshtein.

The experimental exhibition at LACMA—called “Conversing in Clay: Ceramics from the LACMA Collection”—is open until May 21, 2023.

“LACMA is one of the world’s greatest art museums, so it is wonderful to be able to combine its expertise with our knowledge of brain function and behavior,” says Albright, director of Salk’s Vision Center Laboratory and Conrad T. Prebys Chair in Vision Research. “The beauty of this project is that it extends our laboratory research on perception, memory, and decision-making into the real world.”

Albright and Gepshtein study the visual system and how it informs decisions and behaviors. A major focus of their work is uncovering how perception guides movement in space. Pereira’s expertise lies in measuring and quantifying behaviors. He invented a deep learning technique called SLEAP [Social LEAP Estimates Animal Poses (SLEAP)], which precisely captures the movements of organisms, from single cells to whales, using conventional videography. This technology has enabled scientists to describe behaviors with unprecedented precision.

For this project, the scientists have placed 10 video cameras throughout a LACMA gallery. The researchers will record how the museum environment shapes behaviors as visitors move through the space, including preferred viewing locations, paths and rates of movement, postures, social interactions, gestures, and expressions. Those behaviors will, in turn, provide novel insights into the underlying perceptual and cognitive processes that guide our engagement with works of art. The scientists will also test strategic modifications to gallery design to produce the most rewarding experience.

“We plan to capture every behavior that every person does while visiting the exhibit,” Pereira says. “For example, how long they stand in front an object, whether they’re talking to a friend or even scratching their head. Then we can use this data to predict how the visitor will act next, such as if they will visit another object in the exhibit or if they leave instead.”

Results from the study will help inform future exhibit design and visitor experience and provide an unprecedented quantitative look at how human systems for perception and memory lead to predictable decisions and actions in a rich sensory environment.

“As a museum that has a long history of melding art with science and technology, we are thrilled to partner with the Salk Institute for this study,” says Michael Govan, LACMA CEO and Wallis Annenberg director. “LACMA is always striving to create accessible, engaging gallery environments for all visitors. We look forward to applying what we learn to our approach to gallery design and to enhance visitor experience.” 

Next, the scientists plan to employ this experimental approach to gain a better understanding of how the design of environments for people with specific needs, like school-age children or patients with dementia, might improve cognitive processes and behaviors.

Several members of the research team are also members of the Academy of Neuroscience for Architecture, which seeks to promote and advance knowledge that links neuroscience research to a growing understanding of human responses to the built environment.

Gepshtein is also a member of Salk’s Center for the Neurobiology of Vision and director of the Collaboratory for Adaptive Sensory Technologies. Additionally, he serves as the director of the Center for Spatial Perception & Concrete Experience at the University of Southern California.

About the Los Angeles County Museum of Art:

LACMA is the largest art museum in the western United States, with a collection of more than 149,000 objects that illuminate 6,000 years of artistic expression across the globe. Committed to showcasing a multitude of art histories, LACMA exhibits and interprets works of art from new and unexpected points of view that are informed by the region’s rich cultural heritage and diverse population. LACMA’s spirit of experimentation is reflected in its work with artists, technologists, and thought leaders as well as in its regional, national, and global partnerships to share collections and programs, create pioneering initiatives, and engage new audiences.

About the Salk Institute for Biological Studies:

Every cure has a starting point. The Salk Institute embodies Jonas Salk’s mission to dare to make dreams into reality. Its internationally renowned and award-winning scientists explore the very foundations of life, seeking new understandings in neuroscience, genetics, immunology, plant biology, and more. The Institute is an independent nonprofit organization and architectural landmark: small by choice, intimate by nature, and fearless in the face of any challenge. Be it cancer or Alzheimer’s, aging or diabetes, Salk is where cures begin. Learn more at: salk.edu.

I find this image quite intriguing,

Caption: Motion capture technology is used to classify human behavior in an art exhibition. Credit: Salk Institute

I’m trying to figure out how they’ll do this. Will each visitor be ‘tagged’ as they enter the LACMA gallery so they can be ‘followed’ individually as they respond (or don’t respond) to the exhibits? Will they be notified that they are participating in a study?

I was tracked without my knowledge or consent at the Vancouver (Canada) Art Gallery’s (VAG) exhibition, “The Imitation Game: Visual Culture in the Age of Artificial Intelligence” (March 5, 2022 – October 23, 2022). It was disconcerting to find out that my ‘tracks’ had become part of a real time installation. (The result of my trip to the VAG was a two-part commentary: “Mad, bad, and dangerous to know? Artificial Intelligence at the Vancouver [Canada] Art Gallery [1 of 2]: The Objects” and “Mad, bad, and dangerous to know? Artificial Intelligence at the Vancouver [Canada] Art Gallery [2 of 2]: Meditations”. My response to the experience can be found under the ‘Eeek’ subhead of part 2: Meditations. For the curious, part 1: The Objects is here.)

ArtSci Salon hosts Basic Necessities—connectivity and cultural creativity in Cuba, a talk on Oct 3, 4:30-6:00 pm ET at York University

It’s like the flood gates have opened and I am being inundated with event notices. The latest is from Toronto’s (Canada) ArtSci Salon (again). From a September 21, 2022 notice (received via email),

Basic Necessities
Connectivity and cultural creativity in Cuba

A public lecture by Nestor Siré
With online participation by Steffen Köhn

Join me in welcoming Nestor Siré.
Nestor Siré is a multimedia artist based in Cuba. His projects and collaborations explore unofficial methods for circulating information and goods, such as alternative forms of economic production, and phenomena resulting from social creativity and recycling, piracy, as well as a-legal activities benefitting from loopholes. Siré will discuss some of his recent creative works in the Cuban context.
His “Paquete Semanal” is an offline digital media circulation system based on in person file sharing to provide a solution to connectivity and infrastructure failure in Cuba. “Basic Necessities”, a recent collaboration with Steffen Köhln, portraits the dynamics of the informal economy in Cuba as it unfolds in Telegram groups and analyses the eclectic and creative uses of product photography within this digital context.
Köhln will join him in conversation via zoom.

October 3, 2022
4:30-6:00 pm [ET]
Room YH 245
Glendon Campus [York University]
2275 Bayview Ave
North York,
ON M4N 3M6
Directions

Nestor Siré
(*1988), lives and works in Havana, Cuba.
www.nestorsire.com
Nestor Siré’s artistic practice intervenes directly in social contexts in order to analyze specific cultural phenomena, often engaging with the particular idiosyncrasies of digital culture in the Cuban context.
His works have been shown in the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes (Havana), Queens Museum (New York), Rhizome (New York), New Museum (New York), Hong-Gah Museum (Taipei), Museo de Arte Contemporáneo (Mexico City), Museo de Arte Contemporáneo, Santa Fe (Argentina), The Photographers’ Gallery (London), among other places. He has participated in events such as the Manifesta 13 Biennial (France), Gwangju Biennale (South Korea), Curitiba Biennial (Brazil), the Havana Biennial (Cuba) and the Asunción International Biennale (Paraguay), the Festival of New Latin American Cinema in Cuba and the Oberhausen International Festival of Short Film (Germany).

Steffen Köhn
(*1980), lives and works in Berlin.
www.steffenkoehn.com

Steffen Köhn is a filmmaker, anthropologist and video artist who uses ethnography to understand contemporary sociotechnical landscapes. For his video and installation works he engages in local collaborations with gig workers, software developers, or science fiction writers to explore viable alternatives to current distributions of technological access and arrangements of power.
His works have been shown at the Academy of the Arts Berlin, Kunsthaus Graz, Vienna Art Week, Hong Gah Museum Taipei, Lulea Biennial, The Photographers’ Gallery and the ethnographic museums of Copenhagen and Dresden. His films have been screened (among others) at the Berlinale, Rotterdam International Film Festival, and the Word Film Festival Montreal.

I tried to find out if this event will be webcast or streamed but was unsuccessful. You can check the ArtSci Salon website, perhaps they’ll post something closer to the event date.

Two art/sci exhibitions, one name: Sensoria from Sept. 16 – Oct. 30, 2022 in Gdansk, Poland and in Toronto, Canada

I got a notice (via email) from Toronto’s ArtSci Salon about Sensoria: The Art and Science of Our Senses 2022. This looks interesting and it is confusing as to which site is hosting which installations/art pieces. It starts nice and easy and then … Here’s more from the notice,

Sensoria: the Art & Science of Our Senses is a multi-site exhibition and symposium that bridges LAZNIA Centre for Contemporary Art (LCCA) in Gdansk, Poland and Sensorium: Centre for Digital Arts & Technology at York University in Toronto, Canada.

Held simultaneously in both locations, the exhibition and symposium will engage multi-sensory research that revitalizes our sensory connections to our surroundings, through and despite technological tools, networks and latencies.

The exhibition component is co-curated by distinguished curator Nina Czegledy (Agents for Change: Facing the Anthropocene, 2020 & Leonardo/ ISAST 50th Celebrations, 2018) and Sensorium director Joel Ong.  Czegledy brings together an international network of artists and scholars who explore the intersection of art, science and the senses. Sited concurrently in both Poland and Toronto, the exhibition will explore the dissociative potential of contemporary technologies on the senses, treating it not only as a social crisis but also an opportunity for creative play and experimentation. It aims to engage a conversation about the senses from the perspective of art, but also science, incorporating artists that straddle the boundaries of knowledge production in a variety of ways.

The event will be complemented by a workshop by Csenge Kolozsvari.

Kolozsvari brings together somatic practices (crawling side by side, drawing, moving with bags full of water, walking backwards, playing with breath, touching textures, voicing etc.) with the concept of the schiz, cut, or interval, following philosophers Deleuze and Guattari in their book Anti-Oedipus. The aim is to build practices that do not presuppose where bodies begin and end, and to agitate the habitual narratives of bodily borders and edges as solid and knowable.

The symposium leverages the exhibition content as the starting point for more in-depth conversation about the connective aesthetics of everyday sensing and the knowledge-creation potential of artists and scientists collaborating in innovative ways. The socio-political turbulences we have experienced worldwide during the last decade have created unprecedented social and personal strife. While connections are sustained now amongst virtual networks that straddle vast spaces, how might we consider the sharing of intimate senses through smell, touch, and bodily movement as a form of mutual support? The symposium explores questions such as these with keynote presentations by Ryszard Khuszcynski [I believe this is the correct spellling: Ryszard Kluszczyński], Chris Salter and David Howse, as well as roundtables between artists and scientists, and performances by Csenge Kolozsvari and York University’s DisPerSions Lab (led by Doug Van Nort). All aspects of the symposium will be presented with virtual components, so as to allow both in-person engagement in Toronto and virtual presence in Gdansk and elsewhere.

Now for details about the Gdansk portion, from the LAZNIA Centre for Contemporary Art (LCCA) event page, (Note 1: This is quite lengthy. Note 2: If you follow the link to the LCCA event page, you may need to click the English language option [upper right hand corner of the screen] and, then, scroll down to click MORE at the bottom of the left text column.)

Dates of the exhibition: 16 September–30 October 2022
Location: CCA Laznia 1 oraz CCA Laznia 2
Curator: Nina Czegledy

Exhibition: September 16-October 30, 2022
Places: Laznia 1 ( Jaskółcza 1) and Laznia 2 (Strajku Dokerów 5), Gdańsk

Opening: September 16, 2022
– time. 19.00 (Laznia 1, Dolne Miasto)
– time. 20.30 (Laznia 2, Nowy Port)

During the vernissage, we provide transport by bus from Łaźnia 1 to Łaźnia 2 and back.

Artists:
Guy van Belle | Karolina Hałatek | Csenge Kolozsvari | Hilda Kozari | Agnes Meyer-Brandis | Gayil Nalls | Raewyn Turner and Brian Harris | Artur Żmijewski

Sensoria, The Art & Science of Our Senses

Curatorial Statement

Nina Czegledy

Introduction

Sensoria, The Art & Science of Our Senses a multi-site project is focused on multisensory perception in the arts and the sciences. The cross-disciplinary initiative explores our sensory world through scientific, social, cultural and scholastic interpretations. The exhibitions, performances and the symposium link LAZNIA Centre for Contemporary Art (LCCA) in Gdansk, Poland (1) and Sensorium: Centre for Digital Art and Technology at York University, Toronto, Canada (2) in a cross-institutional and inter-cultural collaboration. The participation of international artists in the exhibition and symposium span the globe from New Zealand to Finland to the Czech Republic and reflect on the effects of recent ecological and socio-cultural alterations on sensory organisms in humans and other species.

We perceive the world through our senses, yet for a long time the senses were treated as independent perceptual modules. Contemporary research confirmed that our senses are fundamentally interrelated and interact with each other (3). Moreover, our perception of visual, auditory or tactile events change as a result of information exchange between receptors (4). The impact of radical changes such as the constraints of the COVID 19 Pandemic caused extensive psycho-emotional stress and has affected every aspect of our life from geopolitics to economies to the arts and sciences including sensory awareness (5). Considering implications of COVID-19 for the human senses Derek Victor Byrne noted that initial work has shown short- and likely longer-term negative effects on the human senses (6). Curatorial reflection of these issues presented in the last years became essential.

The way that we perceive our environment via our sensory systems has been frequently a source of controversy concerning one of the basic characteristics of our existence. (7).

As David Howes observed ”The perceptual is cultural and political, and not simply (as psychologists and neuroscientists would have it) a matter of cognitive processes or neurological mechanisms located in the individual subject” (8)

With the changing notions of the constitution of sentient beings a revision of knowledge – led to a closer engagement with the traditional experience by indigenous peoples. The benefits of Nature on our sensorial being are well known, however it is important to remember that our attitude to, and representation of Nature is always closely linked to political, religious, environmental and social considerations. In investigating sensory awareness the impact of the geographical, cultural and social context on individual sensory perception cannot be underestimated (9).

Curatorial research and development of the Sensoria project since 2019 was aimed to present the theme in an unconventional way. International artist residencies, workshops, presentations and thematically related round table discussions in collaboration with local Polish academic and corporate research institutions were offered before the Pandemic in 2019 and 2020. Strategically, the exhibitions now focus on a “return” to the sensory capacity of the body after the last two and a half years of telematic and virtual modes of communication that have biased the audio-visual spectrums of sensory experience.

While the estrangement of the senses have been exacerbated by technologies in the way media elements have contributed to the dissociation of the senses from one another and a subsequent bias of audio-visual content in our digital and virtual environments, the SENSORIA exhibition adapt what Caroline Jones (10) has described as the “creatively dissociated self”. In her landmark exhibition “Sensorium” of 2006 , she considers the dissociative potential of contemporary technologies on the senses as an invitation to engage in creative play and experimentations around this prospect. In this way, SENSORIA builds on the unique interests of the artists curated around the olfactory, tactile and sonic senses; and explores the tensions of telematic/virtual co-presence over two geographically separate galleries.

The exhibition’s primary goal is to create a broad visibility for the wide variety of art project concerning sensory perception. It aims to engage a conversation about the senses from the perspective of art, but also science, incorporating artists that straddle the boundaries of knowledge production in a variety of ways. In Poland, the exhibition linked established European artists with local Polish ones; the Toronto hub similarly links international artists in the main hubs with local artists. In this way, the exhibition forges networks across continents and ideas, bringing a range of different perspectives together to explore how our globalized world has both linked and disconnected us from one another. In addition, being situated simultaneously in both sites, Sensoria also builds on the unique interests of the artists curated around the olfactory, tactile and sonic senses; and explores the tensions of telematic/virtual co-presence over two geographically separate galleries. Sensoria artists, curated through a collaborative process with the project’s lead curators and team members, have been invited to considered site-specific adaptations of their internationally renowned artworks. In this way, the goal of the project is to revitalize our sensory connections to our immediate surroundings, through and despite technological tools, networks and latencies; and to share in a collective experience and discussion of them. In addition, the symposium component hosted by Sensorium at York University focuses on a “return” to the sensory capacity of the body after the last two and a half years of telematic and virtual modes of communication that have biased the audio-visual spectrums of sensory experience. The constraints of the Pandemic have precipitated our current estrangement from our sensuous surroundings, and with the gradual and tentative reopening of regulations in North America, Europe and the world this Spring, we expect a resurgence in a desire for people to engage once again with the multi-sensory sensorium, prioritizing the senses of smell, touch and taste that have broadly been neglected in collective experience. The Sensoria symposium will feature artists, curators and theorists through a series of keynote lectures, performances and artist panels.

Sincere thanks to the LAZNIA Team, especially Lila Bosowska and Aleksandra Ksiezopolska for our curatorial collaboration in the difficult times of the last three years. Sincere thanks to Ryszard Kluszczyński for advising the Sensoria project.

Respectful acknowledgements to Jadwiga Charzynska Director of Laznia.

Last but not least deepest thanks to Prof. Yu-Zhi Joel Ong for his role in expanding Sensoria into an international cross-institutional collaboration.

Reference

1 LAZNIA Centre for Contemporary Art (LCCA) in Gdansk, Poland

2 Sensorium: Centre for Digital Art and Technology at York University (Sensorium) Toronto, Canada. https://sensorium.ampd.yorku.ca/

3 Burston, D and Cohen J. 2015 Perceptual Integration, Modularity, and Cognitive Penetration In: Cognitive Influences on Perception: Implications for Philosophy of Mind, Epistemology, and Philosophy of Action (pp.123-143). Oxford University Press

4 Masrour F, Nirshberg, G, Schon Nm Leardi J and Barrett Emily Revisiting the empirical case against perceptual modularity Front Psychol. 2015; 6: 1676. Published online 2015 Nov 4. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2015.01676

5. Tasha R Stanton, T,R and Spence Charles. The Influence of Auditory Cues on Bodily and Movement Perception. Front. Psychol., 17 January 2020 Sec. Perception Science https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2019.03001

6. Byrne, V Effects and Implications of COVID-19 for the Human Senses, Consumer Preferences, Appetite and Eating Behaviour: Volume I Foods. 2022 Jun; 11(12): 1738. Published online 2022 Jun 14. doi: 10.3390/foods11121738

7. Mc Cann, H. Our sensory experience of the pandemic https://pursuit.unimelb.edu.au/

8 Howes, D Architecture of the Senses. https://www.david-howes.com/DH-research-sampler-arch-senses.htm

9 D B Rose Val Plumwood’s Philosophical Animism: Attentive Inter-actions in the Sentient World Environmental Humanities 3(1):93-19

10 Jones C. The Mediated Sensorium. https://citythroughthebody.files.wordpress.com/2013/08/sensorium.pdf

Descriptions of the artworks presented at Sensoria:

Agnes Meyer Brandis Berlin based artist contributes One Tree ID and Have a tea with a Tree“ to the Sensoria exhibition. One Tree ID is a biochemical and Biopoetic Odour Communication Installation The project One Tree ID transforms the ID of a specific tree into a perfume that can then be applied to the human body. By applying it, a person can invisibly wear not just characteristics of the tree he/she is standing next to, but also use parts of its communication system and potentially have a conversation that – although invisible and inaudible by nature – might still take place on the biochemical level plants use for information exchange. VOC and Have a tea with a Tree provides a booking link to a personal video conference with up to 16 trees. The trees will participate in real time. Address for conference booking: www.teawithatree.com. The internet protocol is secured.

Polish artist Karolina Hałatek will present “Ascent” – a large-scale site-specific light installation that embodies a variety of archetypical and physical associations – from microscopic observations, electromagnetic wave dynamics, and atmospheric phenomena of a whirlwind to a spiritual epiphany. Most importantly, Ascent offers a unique immersive experience, that invites the viewer to become its central point, and transforms the perception of the viewer on a sensual level. The light and the fog create a monumental dynamic space that is participatory, the space that opens up a new dimension and directs the attention toward the bodily sensations in the explicit environment. The viewer is free to approach the work according to its own sensual response, but direct interaction can offer the potential to evoke a new perceptual imagination.

Bodylandscapes by Csenge Kolozsvari is a single channel video piece feeling-with the fascial planes (connective tissues) of bodies; thinking them beyond human scales and temporalities, as constantly emerging fields. The camera is a listening device for the softness of skin-talk; a composition of detailed skin-textures and close-ups of body parts that are imperceptibly transitioning into one another, following creases and swellings, creating landscapes in-the-making. The video is a proposition for remembering the ecological ways of our belonging, of other ways of knowing, connecting into the vastness that surrounds us and moves across us, of becoming-environment once again.

Artur Zmijewski a Polish artist asked a group of visually impaired people to paint the world as they see it. The result is compiled in Blindly a video with sound. Some of the volunteers were congenitally disabled; others became blind in their lifetime. In the film they draw self-portraits and landscapes, occasionally asking the artist for instructions or giving verbal explanation for their decisions. Their paintings are clumsy and abstract. It is however not the resulting works but the process of making them that is at the core of the film.

Hilda Kozari leads a 3 hour-long memory workshop with visually impaired participants and Emilia Leszkowicz a local neuroscientist coordinated with the Education Department of LAZNIA. The workshop is focused on, triggering smell memories and discussions of the scents and the memories triggered by them. Tactility is also a theme of this workshop for the visually impaired participants which is conveyed via felt discs in various sizes. From the different sizes of the discs it is possible to form the Braille verbs and messages.

The findings and results of the workshop material to be transferred on the Sensoria exhibition walls. The multisensory installation is accessible for visually impaired visitors during the exhibition. For other visitors for rethinking perception, enjoying the smell and touch of the installation and seeing the Braille signs as spatial, visually fascinating structure. It is hoped that this is an opportunity recognising the visually impaired as active members of the community.

Gayil Nalls from New York city brings her World Sensorium project to Sensoria World Sensorium which was officially part of New York City’s millennium event “Times Square 2000: The Global Celebration at the Crossroads of the World,” where for 24 hours around New Year’s Eve, the peoples and cultures of nations around the world were celebrated through sight, sound, and—with World Sensorium— scent. World Sensorium is a large-scale, transdisciplinary, olfactory artwork comprised of botanical substances formulated by country population percentages into a single global essence. The phytoconstituents are those most valued by humanity since ancient times, plants established through ethnobotanical research and a global survey process with world governments. Discussion of the World Sensorium link between psychology and olfaction, and the phenomena of odor-evoked memory follows. Individuals attending are invited to participate in ‘Experience World Sensorium:Poland “ and have a chance to dive beneath the insightful a fragmentary memoir of their own experience at a future date.

Raewyn Turner & Brian Harris, New Zealand based artists present Read Reed at Sensoria. Read Reed proceeds from the mythological story of the discretion of Midas’s hairdresser who, feeling that he may betray Midas’s trust, dug a hole in the earth and spoke into it whereby he laid his secret, only to have the secret broadcast to the world via the whispering reeds which grew over the hole. ReedRead relates to data misinterpretation, hidden secrets and the desire for vast wealth. The artists are using the story of secrets whispered into a hole in the earth and the inevitable leakage and exposure of secrets as a starting point. Data from any source including reeds swishing in the wind may be formed into letters and words that relate to digital capitalism and the obscuring of knowledge through the unknowns of ambiguity, uncertainty and risk. Both the clandestine nature of pervasive monitoring and the authorization for increasing the scope and breadth of collected information originates with NSA’s aspiration to sniff it all, know it all, exploit it all etc., and is part of creating the conditions for digital capitalism.

Guy Van Belle in collaboration with Krzysztof Topolski and the Gdansk University Choir present Fanfara Gdansk performance using a simple and open setup for the participatory visitors/performers. For centuries the arts were rather interested in the non-human expressions around or communication and phenomena that we faintly or hardly understand. To quote Paul Demarinis “Music is sound to my ears”. The sound score gives an indication of discrete and continuous time, pitches and amplitudes, complexities and silences, some combinatory ideas, etc. in the form of sounds you can listen to, sing/play along with it or counter, imitate and enrich it… The expressivity and performativity aims at providing a real time interpretation of the sound score.

The Fanfara Gdansk performance consists of a backtrack with recorded and computer generated birdsongs, which is transmitted over local FM, and received by the musicians on headsets from their phones, tables, portable radio receivers. All musicians are ‘singing’ along with the birdsongs, but they can also bring additional small handheld objects that produce sound: battery operated electronics; resonating objects, … some megaphones and small amplifiers will be available, but all wearable.
The singers from the choir move slowly in formation together with the additional musicians and participatory audience, towards the entrance of the exhibition. Any single movement from the musicians and the audience influences the position of the others.

There’s more about the Toronto portion of the exhibitions, etc. on York University’s Sensorium Centre for Digital Arts and Technologies’ events page, Note: This is where it gets a little confusing as it seems that some of these artists are displaying the same pieces in two different cities at the same time: World Sensorium has a version in Poland and a version in Toronto; Read Reed is in Poland and ReedRead is in Toronto; I’m not sure about One Tree ID, which seems to be in two places at once,

Courtesy: York University

SENSORIA: the Art & Science of Our Senses is a multi-site exhibition and symposium that bridges LAZNIA Centre for Contemporary Art (LCCA) in Gdansk, Poland and Sensorium: Centre for Digital Arts & Technology at York University in Toronto, Canada. Held simultaneously in both locations, the exhibition and symposium will engage multi-sensory research that revitalizes our sensory connections to our surroundings, through and despite technological tools, networks and latencies.

Register for the symposium Oct. 4–5, 2022: https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/symposium-sensoria-the-art-and-science-of-our-senses-tickets-418241681127.   

The symposium will also feature 2 keynote performances from 12:45pm EST each day:  The Power of the Spill by Csenge Kolozsvari Oct. 4, 2022, and Doug Van Nort Electro-Acoustic Orchestra Oct. 5, 2022. 

EXHIBITION

September 26 – October 14, 2022
Gales Gallery, York University
105 Accolade West Building,
86 Fine Arts Road, Toronto, ON 

Held at the Gales Gallery, the Sensoria exhibition will feature the works:

One Tree ID.  Agnes Meyer-Brandis,
SunEaters.  Grace Grothaus,
World Sensorium.  Gayil Nalls,
Emergent: A Mobile Gallery featuring “The Connection”, Michaela Pňaček,  Roberta Buiani, Lorella Di Cintio and Kavi
ReedRead.  Raewyn Turner/ Brian Harris 
Kinetic Shadows.  Hrysovalanti Maheras 
Marching Choir Guy Van Belle  

The exhibition is also open during Nuit Blanche as part of the AGYU’s Streams” project.

In addition, Csenge Kolozsvari will be leading the Schizo-Somatic Workshop on Oct. 3, 2022. Please click on the hyperlinks for separate registration. 

SYMPOSIUM

SENSORIA: The Art and Science of Our Senses symposium presents keynote lectures, discussions and performances around the connective aesthetics of everyday sensing and the knowledge-creation potential of artists and scientists collaborations. Registration link : https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/symposium-sensoria-the-art-and-science-of-our-senses-tickets-418241681127

Running from Oct. 4–5 (9am – 12noon EST), The symposium will feature keynote lectures by Ryszard Kluszcynski , Chris Salter and David Howse; roundtable discussions by the artists/theorists/scientists Agnes Meyer-Brandis, Gayil Nalls, Rasa Smite, Katarzyna Pastuszak, Grace Grothaus, Katarzyna Sloboda, Raewyn Turner/Brian Harris, Hilda Kosari [a web search suggests that Kozari is a more correct spelling] and Agnieszka Sorokowska.

The symposium will also feature 2 keynote performances from 12:45pm EST each day:  The Power of the Spill by Csenge Kolozsvari Oct. 4, 2022, and Doug Van Nort Electro-Acoustic Orchestra Oct. 5, 2022. 

In addition, Csenge Kolozsvari will be leading the Schizo-Somatic Workshop on Oct. 3, 2022. Please click on the hyperlinks for separate registration. 

Symposium Schedule:

Tuesday, Oct. 4: 9am – 130pm EST
9:00 : Introductions and land acknowledgement (Joel Ong)
9:05 : Introduction from Sensoria Curator (Nina Czegledy)
9:10 : Introduction from LAZNIA (Jadwiga Charzynska, Director)
9:30 : Keynote 1 —Professor Ryszard Kluszcynski
10:30 : Sensoria Panel 1 — Agnes Meyer-Brandis, Gayil Nalls, Rasa Smite, Katarzyna Pastuszak, Grace Grothaus (Discussant)
12:00 :  Lunch Break
12:30 : Keynote Performance 1 — Csenge Kolozsvari [Sensorium Flex Space] + Q&A
1:30 : End

Wednesday Oct 5th 9am – 130pm EST

9:00 : Introductions and land acknowledgement
9:10 : Curatorial presentation  (Toronto curatorial team)
9:30 : Keynote 2 — Professors Chris Salter and David Howse
10:30 :  Sensoria Panel 2 — Katarzyna Sloboda, Raewyn Turner/Brian Harris, Hilda Kosari, Agnieszka Sorokowska, Hrysovalanti Maheras (Discussant)
12:00 : Lunch Break
12:30 : Keynote Performance 2 — Doug Van Nort Telematic Orchestra  [DisPerSions Lab] + Q&A
1:30 : Ending Notes

Description: 

SENSORIA: the Art & Science of Our Senses is a multi-site exhibition and symposium that bridges LAZNIA Centre for Contemporary Art (LCCA) in Gdansk, Poland and Sensorium: Centre for Digital Arts & Technology at York University in Toronto, Canada. Held simultaneously in both locations, the exhibition and symposium will engage multi-sensory research that revitalizes our sensory connections to our surroundings, through and despite technological tools, networks and latencies.

The exhibition is co-curated by distinguished curator Nina Czegledy (Agents for Change: Facing the Anthropocene, 2020 & Leonardo/ISAST 50th Celebrations, 2018) and Sensorium director Joel Ong, with the support of assistant curators Eva Lu and Cleo Sallis-Parchet. Sensoria explores the intersection of art, science and the senses, bringing together an international network of artists: Guy van Belle, Roberta Buiani, Lorella Di Cintio, Grace Grothaus, Kavi, Hrysovalanti Maheras, Agnes Meyer-Brandis, Gayil Nalls, Michael Palumbo, Michaela Pnacekova, Raewyn Turner and Brian Harris. Sited concurrently in both Poland and Toronto, the exhibition will explore the dissociative potential of contemporary technologies on the senses, treating it not only as a social crisis but also an opportunity for creative play and experimentation. It aims to engage a conversation about the senses from the perspective of art, but also science, incorporating artists that straddle the boundaries of knowledge production in a variety of ways.

The symposium leverages the exhibition content as the starting point for more in-depth conversation about the connective aesthetics of everyday sensing and the knowledge-creation potential of artists and scientists collaborating in innovative ways. The socio-political turbulences we have experienced worldwide during the last decade have created unprecedented social and personal strife. While connections are sustained now amongst virtual networks that straddle vast spaces, how might we consider the sharing of intimate senses through smell, touch, and bodily movement as a form of mutual support? The symposium explores questions such as these with keynote presentations by Ryszard Khuszcynsk [Kluszcynski]i, Chris Salter and David Howse, as well as roundtables between artists and scientists: Agnes Meyer-Brandis, Gayil Nalls, Rasa Smite, Katarzyna Pastuszak, Grace Grothaus, Katarzyna Sloboda, Hilda Kosari [Kozari], Agnieszka Sorokowska, Hrysovalanti Maheras, Raewyn Turner and Brian Harris. All aspects of the symposium will be presented with virtual components, so as to allow both in-person engagement in Toronto and virtual presence in Gdansk and elsewhere. 

The event will be complemented by a workshop byCsenge Kolozsvari.  Kolozsvari’s Schizo-Somatic Session brings together somatic practices (crawling side by side, drawing, moving with bags full of water, walking backwards, playing with breath, touching textures, voicing etc.) with the concept of the schiz, cut, or interval, following philosophers Deleuze and Guattari in their book Anti-Oedipus. The aim is to build practices that do not presuppose where bodies begin and end, and to agitate the habitual narratives of bodily borders and edges as solid and knowable. 

Csenge Kolozsvari’s performance The Power of the Spill is a multidisciplinary live performance working at the intersection of digital and imaginary technologies. It uses live video feedback, algorithmic processes of image (Hydra), sound as well as a movement-choreography informed by somatic practices. This project is a study on visual perception and how it affects our ways of making sense of the world, aiming to create an alternative lens that acknowledges the vitality of objects, a topology that is cross-species, the ways seemingly separate entities are in constant exchange, towards a more ecological way of being. The performance is in collaboration with Kieran Maraj, with original live coding by Rodrigo Velasco. Performance will be followed by a Q&A with the artist. 

Doug Van Nort’s performance The Telematic Orchestra  

The sense of touch (or tactility) is not highlighted in the image for the poster but there are some workshops which incorporate that sense.

I apologize for the redundancies and for not correcting or noting the errors in the various texts and with people’s names.

One final note, York University’s Sensorium Centre for Digital Arts and Technologies was last mentioned here in an October 26, 2020 posting about an ArtSci Salon event.

Illustrating math at the University of Saskatchewan (Canada)

Art and math intersect in Dr. Steven Rayan’s work on quantum materials at the University of Saskatchewan (USask).

An illustration by Elliot Kienzle (undergraduate research assistant, quanTA Centre, USask) of a hyperbolic crystal in action

A May 2, 2022 USask news release (also received via email) describes Rayan’s work in more detail,

Art and mathematics may go hand-in-hand when building new and better materials for use in quantum computing and other quantum applications, according to University of Saskatchewan (USask) mathematician Dr. Steven Rayan (PhD).

Quantum materials are what futuristic dreams are made of. Such materials are able to efficiently conduct and insulate electric currents – the everyday equivalent of never having a lightbulb flicker. Quantum materials may be the fabric of tomorrow’s supercomputers, ones that can quickly and accurately analyze and solve problems to a degree far beyond what was previously thought possible.

“Before the 1700s, people were amazed that metals could be melted down and reshaped to suit their needs, be it the need for building materials or for tools. There was no thought that, perhaps, metals were capable of something much more — such as conducting electricity,” said Rayan, an associate professor of mathematics and statistics in the USask College of Arts and Science who also serves as the director of the USask Centre for Quantum Topology and its Applications (quanTA).

“Today, we’re at a similar juncture. We may be impressed with what materials are capable of right now, but tomorrow’s materials will redefine our expectations. We are standing at a doorway and on the other side of it is a whole new world of materials capable of things that we previously could not imagine.”

Many conducting materials exhibit a crystal-like structure that consists of tiny cells repeating over and over. Previous research published in Science Advances had highlighted Rayan and University of Alberta physicist Dr. Joseph Maciejko’s (PhD) success in defining a new type of quantum material that does not follow a typical crystal structure but instead consists of “hyperbolic” crystals that are warped and curved. 

“This is an immense paradigm shift in the understanding of what it means to be a ‘material’,” said Rayan.

It is expected that hyperbolic materials will exhibit the perfect conductivity of current quantum materials, but at slightly higher temperatures. Today’s quantum materials often need to be supercooled to extremely low temperatures to reach their full potential. Maintaining such temperatures is an obstacle to implementing widespread quantum computing, which has the potential to impact information security, drug design, vaccine development, and other crucial tasks. Hyperbolic materials may be part of the solution to this problem.

Hyperbolic materials may also be the key to new types of sensors and medical imaging devices, such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machines that take advantage of quantum effects in order to be more lightweight for use in rural or remote environments.

USask recently named Quantum Innovation as one of its three new signature areas of research [Note: Link removed] to respond to emerging questions and needs in the pursuit of new knowledge.

“All of this comes at the right time, as new technologies like quantum computers, quantum sensors, and next-generation fuel cells are putting new demands on materials and exposing the limits of existing components,” said Rayan.

This year has seen two new articles by Rayan together with co-authors extending previous research of hyperbolic materials. The first is written with Maciejko and appears in the prestigious journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). The second has been written with University of Maryland undergraduate student Elliot Kienzle, who served as a USask quanTA research assistant under Rayan’s supervision in summer of 2021.

In these two articles, the power of mathematics used to study quantum and hyperbolic crystals is significantly extended through the use of tools from geometry. These tools have not typically been applied to the study of materials. The results will make it much easier for scientists experimenting with hyperbolic materials to make accurate predictions about how they will behave as electrical conductors.

Reflecting on the initial breakthrough of considering hyperbolic geometry rather than ordinary geometry, Rayan said, “What is interesting is that these warped crystals have appeared in mathematics for over 100 years as well as in art – for instance, in the beautiful woodcuts of M.C. Escher – and it is very satisfying to see these ideas practically applied in science.”

The work also intersects with art in another way. The article with Kienzle, which was released in pre-publication form on February 1, 2022 [sic], was accompanied by exclusive hand drawings provided by Kienzle. With concepts in mathematics and physics often being difficult to visualize, the artwork helps the work to come to life and invites everyone to learn about the function and power of quantum materials. 

The artwork, which is unusual for mathematics or physics papers, has garnered a lot of positive attention on social media.

“Elliot is tremendously talented not only as an emerging researcher in mathematics and physics, but also as an artist,” said Rayan. “His illustrations have added a new dimension to our work, and I hope that this is the start of a new trend in these types of papers where the quality and creativity of illustrations are as important as the correctness of equations.”

Here are links to and citations for both of Rayan’s most recent papers,

Hyperbolic band theory through Higgs bundles by Elliot Kienzle and Steven Rayan. arXiv:2201.12689 (or arXiv:2201.12689v1 [math-ph] for this version) DOI: https://doi.org/10.48550/arXiv.2201.1268 Submitted on 30 Jan 2022

This paper is open access and open for peer review.

Automorphic Bloch theorems for hyperbolic lattices by Joseph Maciejko and Steven Rayan. PNAS February 25, 2022 | 119 (9) e2116869119 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.2116869119

This peer-reviewed paper is behind a paywall.

AI & creativity events for August and September 2022 (mostly)

This information about these events and papers comes courtesy of the Metacreation Lab for Creative AI (artificial intelligence) at Simon Fraser University and, as usual for the lab, the emphasis is on music.

Music + AI Reading Group @ Mila x Vector Institute

Philippe Pasquier, Metacreation Lab director and professor, is giving a presentation on Friday, August 12, 2022 at 11 am PST (2 pm EST). Here’s more from the August 10, 2022 Metacreation Lab announcement (received via email),

Metacreaton Lab director Philippe Pasquier and PhD researcher Jeff Enns will be presenting next week [tomorrow on August 12 ,2022] at the Music + AI Reading Group hosted by Mila. The presentation will be available as a Zoom meeting. 

Mila is a community of more than 900 researchers specializing in machine learning and dedicated to scientific excellence and innovation. The institute is recognized for its expertise and significant contributions in areas such as modelling language, machine translation, object recognition and generative models.

I believe it’s also possible to view the presentation from the Music + AI Reading Group at MILA: presentation by Dr. Philippe Pasquier webpage on the Simon Fraser University website.

For anyone curious about Mila – Québec Artificial Intelligence Institute (based in Montréal) and the Vector Institute for Artificial Intelligence (based in Toronto), both are part of the Pan-Canadian Artificial Intelligence Strategy (a Canadian federal government funding initiative).

Getting back to the Music + AI Reading Group @ Mila x Vector Institute, there is an invitation to join the group which meets every Friday at 2 pm EST, from the Google group page,

unread,Feb 24, 2022, 2:47:23 PMto Community Announcements🎹🧠🚨Online Music + AI Reading Group @ Mila x Vector Institute 🎹🧠🚨

Dear members of the ISMIR [International Society for Music Information Retrieval] Community,

Together with fellow researchers at Mila (the Québec AI Institute) in Montréal, canada [sic], we have the pleasure of inviting you to join the Music + AI Reading Group @ Mila x Vector Institute. Our reading group gathers every Friday at 2pm Eastern Time. Our purpose is to build an interdisciplinary forum of researchers, students and professors alike, across industry and academia, working at the intersection of Music and Machine Learning. 

During each meeting, a speaker presents a research paper of their choice during 45’, leaving 15 minutes for questions and discussion. The purpose of the reading group is to :
– Gather a group of Music+AI/HCI [human-computer interface]/others people to share their research, build collaborations, and meet peer students. We are not constrained to any specific research directions, and all people are welcome to contribute.
– People share research ideas and brainstorm with others.
– Researchers not actively working on music-related topics but interested in the field can join and keep up with the latest research in the area, sharing their thoughts and bringing in their own backgrounds.

Our topics of interest cover (beware : the list is not exhaustive !) :
🎹 Music Generation
🧠 Music Understanding
📇 Music Recommendation
🗣  Source Separation and Instrument Recognition
🎛  Acoustics
🗿 Digital Humanities …
🙌  … and more (we are waiting for you :]) !


If you wish to attend one of our upcoming meetings, simply join our Google Group : https://groups.google.com/g/music_reading_group. You will automatically subscribe to our weekly mailing list and be able to contact other members of the group.

Here is the link to our Youtube Channel where you’ll find recordings of our past meetings : https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCdrzCFRsIFGw2fiItAk5_Og.
Here are general information about the reading group (presentation slides) : https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1zkqooIksXDuD4rI2wVXiXZQmXXiAedtsAqcicgiNYLY/edit?usp=sharing.

Finally, if you would like to contribute and give a talk about your own research, feel free to fill in the following spreadhseet in the slot of your choice ! —> https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1skb83P8I30XHmjnmyEbPAboy3Lrtavt_jHrD-9Q5U44/edit?usp=sharing

Bravo to the two student organizers for putting this together!

Calliope Composition Environment for music makers

From the August 10, 2022 Metacreation Lab announcement,

Calling all music makers! We’d like to share some exciting news on one of the latest music creation tools from its creators, and   .

Calliope is an interactive environment based on MMM for symbolic music generation in computer-assisted composition. Using this environment, the user can generate or regenerate symbolic music from a “seed” MIDI file by using a practical and easy-to-use graphical user interface (GUI). Through MIDI streaming, the  system can interface with your favourite DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) such as Ableton Live, allowing creators to combine the possibilities of generative composition with their preferred virtual instruments sound design environments.

The project has now entered an open beta-testing phase, and inviting music creators to try the compositional system on their own! Head to the metacreation website to learn more and register for the beta testing.

Learn More About Calliope Here

You can also listen to a Calliope piece “the synthrider,” an Italo-disco fantasy of a machine, by Philippe Pasquier and Renaud Bougueng Tchemeube for the 2022 AI Song Contest.

3rd Conference on AI Music Creativity (AIMC 2022)

This in an online conference and it’s free but you do have to register. From the August 10, 2022 Metacreation Lab announcement,

Registration has opened  for the 3rd Conference on AI Music Creativity (AIMC 2022), which will be held 13-15 September, 2022. The conference features 22 accepted papers, 14 music works, and 2 workshops. Registered participants will get full access to the scientific and artistic program, as well as conference workshops and virtual social events. 

The full conference program is now available online

Registration, free but mandatory, is available here:

Free Registration for AIMC 2022 

The conference theme is “The Sound of Future Past — Colliding AI with Music Tradition” and I noticed that a number of the organizers are based in Japan. Often, the organizers’ home country gets some extra time in the spotlight, which is what makes these international conferences so interesting and valuable.

Autolume Live

This concerns generative adversarial networks (GANs) and a paper proposing “… Autolume-Live, the first GAN-based live VJing-system for controllable video generation.”

Here’s more from the August 10, 2022 Metacreation Lab announcement,

Jonas Kraasch & Phiippe Pasquier recently presented their latest work on the Autolume system at xCoAx, the 10th annual Conference on Computation, Communication, Aesthetics & X. Their paper is an in-depth exploration of the ways that creative artificial intelligence is increasingly used to generate static and animated visuals. 

While there are a host of systems to generate images, videos and music videos, there is a lack of real-time video synthesisers for live music performances. To address this gap, Kraasch and Pasquier propose Autolume-Live, the first GAN-based live VJing-system for controllable video generation.

Autolume Live on xCoAx proceedings  

As these things go, the paper is readable even by nonexperts (assuming you have some tolerance for being out of your depth from time to time). Here’s an example of the text and an installation (in Kelowna, BC) from the paper, Autolume-Live: Turning GANsinto a Live VJing tool,

Due to the 2020-2022 situation surrounding COVID-19, we were unable to use
our system to accompany live performances. We have used different iterations
of Autolume-Live to create two installations. We recorded some curated sessions
and displayed them at the Distopya sound art festival in Istanbul 2021 (Dystopia
Sound and Art Festival 2021) and Light-Up Kelowna 2022 (ARTSCO 2022) [emphasis mine]. In both iterations, we let the audio mapping automatically generate the video without using any of the additional image manipulations. These installations show
that the system on its own is already able to generate interesting and responsive
visuals for a musical piece.

For the installation at the Distopya sound art festival we trained a Style-GAN2 (-ada) model on abstract paintings and rendered a video using the de-scribed Latent Space Traversal mapping. For this particular piece we ran a super-resolution model on the final video as the original video output was in 512×512 and the wanted resolution was 4k. For our piece at Light-Up Kelowna [emphasis mine] we ran Autolume-Live with the Latent Space Interpolation mapping. The display included three urban screens, which allowed us to showcase three renders at the same time. We composed a video triptych using a dataset of figure drawings, a dataset of medical sketches and to tie the two videos together a model trained on a mixture of both datasets.

I found some additional information about the installation in Kelowna (from a February 7, 2022 article in The Daily Courier),

The artwork is called ‘Autolume Acedia’.

“(It) is a hallucinatory meditation on the ancient emotion called acedia. Acedia describes a mixture of contemplative apathy, nervous nostalgia, and paralyzed angst,” the release states. “Greek monks first described this emotion two millennia ago, and it captures the paradoxical state of being simultaneously bored and anxious.”

Algorithms created the set-to-music artwork but a team of humans associated with Simon Fraser University, including Jonas Kraasch and Philippe Pasquier, was behind the project.

These are among the artistic images generated by a form of artificial intelligence now showing nightly on the exterior of the Rotary Centre for the Arts in downtown Kelowna. [downloaded from https://www.kelownadailycourier.ca/news/article_6f3cefea-886c-11ec-b239-db72e804c7d6.html]

You can find the videos used in the installation and more information on the Metacreation Lab’s Autolume Acedia webpage.

Movement and the Metacreation Lab

Here’s a walk down memory lane: Tom Calvert, a professor at Simon Fraser University (SFU) and deceased September 28, 2021, laid the groundwork for SFU’s School of Interactive Arts & Technology (SIAT) and, in particular studies in movement. From SFU’s In memory of Tom Calvert webpage,

As a researcher, Tom was most interested in computer-based tools for user interaction with multimedia systems, human figure animation, software for dance, and human-computer interaction. He made significant contributions to research in these areas resulting in the Life Forms system for human figure animation and the DanceForms system for dance choreography. These are now developed and marketed by Credo Interactive Inc., a software company of which he was CEO.

While the Metacreation Lab is largely focused on music, other fields of creativity are also studied, from the August 10, 2022 Metacreation Lab announcement,

MITACS Accelerate award – partnership with Kinetyx

We are excited to announce that the Metacreation Lab researchers will be expanding their work on motion capture and movement data thanks to a new MITACS Accelerate research award. 

The project will focus on ​​body pose estimation using Motion Capture data acquisition through a partnership with Kinetyx, a Calgary-based innovative technology firm that develops in-shoe sensor-based solutions for a broad range of sports and performance applications.

Movement Database – MoDa

On the subject of motion data and its many uses in conjunction with machine learning and AI, we invite you to check out the extensive Movement Database (MoDa), led by transdisciplinary artist and scholar Shannon Cyukendall, and AI Researcher Omid Alemi. 

Spanning a wide range of categories such as dance, affect-expressive movements, gestures, eye movements, and more, this database offers a wealth of experiments and captured data available in a variety of formats.

Explore the MoDa Database

MITACS (originally a federal government mathematics-focused Network Centre for Excellence) is now a funding agency (most of the funds they distribute come from the federal government) for innovation.

As for the Calgary-based company (in the province of Alberta for those unfamiliar with Canadian geography), here they are in their own words (from the Kinetyx About webpage),

Kinetyx® is a diverse group of talented engineers, designers, scientists, biomechanists, communicators, and creators, along with an energy trader, and a medical doctor that all bring a unique perspective to our team. A love of movement and the science within is the norm for the team, and we’re encouraged to put our sensory insoles to good use. We work closely together to make movement mean something.

We’re working towards a future where movement is imperceptibly quantified and indispensably communicated with insights that inspire action. We’re developing sensory insoles that collect high-fidelity data where the foot and ground intersect. Capturing laboratory quality data, out in the real world, unlocking entirely new ways to train, study, compete, and play. The insights we provide will unlock unparalleled performance, increase athletic longevity, and provide a clear path to return from injury. We transform lives by empowering our growing community to remain moved.

We believe that high quality data is essential for us to have a meaningful place in the Movement Metaverse [1]. Our team of engineers, sport scientists, and developers work incredibly hard to ensure that our insoles and the insights we gather from them will meet or exceed customer expectations. The forces that are created and experienced while standing, walking, running, and jumping are inferred by many wearables, but our sensory insoles allow us to measure, in real-time, what’s happening at the foot-ground intersection. Measurements of force and power in addition to other traditional gait metrics, will provide a clear picture of a part of the Kinesome [2] that has been inaccessible for too long. Our user interface will distill enormous amounts of data into meaningful insights that will lead to positive behavioral change. 

[1] The Movement Metaverse is the collection of ever-evolving immersive experiences that seamlessly span both the physical and virtual worlds with unprecedented interoperability.

[2] Kinesome is the dynamic characterization and quantification encoded in an individual’s movement and activity. Broadly; an individual’s unique and dynamic movement profile. View the kinesome nft. [Note: Was not able to successfully open link as of August 11, 2022)

“… make movement mean something … .” Really?

The reference to “… energy trader …” had me puzzled but an August 11, 2022 Google search at 11:53 am PST unearthed this,

An energy trader is a finance professional who manages the sales of valuable energy resources like gas, oil, or petroleum. An energy trader is expected to handle energy production and financial matters in such a fast-paced workplace.May 16, 2022

Perhaps a new meaning for the term is emerging?

AI and visual art show in Vancouver (Canada)

The Vancouver Art Gallery’s (VAG) latest exhibition, “The Imitation Game: Visual Culture in the Age of Artificial Intelligence” is running March 5, 2022 – October 23, 2022. Should you be interested in an exhaustive examination of the exhibit and more, I have a two-part commentary: Mad, bad, and dangerous to know? Artificial Intelligence at the Vancouver (Canada) Art Gallery (1 of 2): The Objects and Mad, bad, and dangerous to know? Artificial Intelligence at the Vancouver (Canada) Art Gallery (2 of 2): Meditations.

Enjoy the show and/or the commentary, as well as, any other of the events and opportunities listed in this post.