Human+

While on holiday in Rome, I was lucky enough to stumble across “Human+.The future of our species” at the Palazzo Delle Esposizioni. It was an exhibition bringing together art and design projects that considered the impact technology could have upon the definition of “human”, and the contexts that we live in.

 

My favourite piece I had already heard about. In 2008 a Russian publishing house released a book called “True Love”; a variation of the novel “Anna Karenina”. The thing is, it was written by a computer. A group of philologists and developers created a program to generate the manuscript. The purpose of the piece was to make you question whether a computer could express “love” through language. I think no. In my opinion, technology can’t feel emotion so could mimic it’s expression through language but not give a genuine, accurate articulation of it. But it is still a nice demonstration of how far technology has developed in regards to natural language processing.

The exhibit I spent the most time at was “Area V5” by Louis-Philippe Demers.  It was a curved wall with three shelves, five robot faces on each shelf. These devices followed visitors with their mechanical eyes, ‘watching’ them as they walk by. The suggestion is that eye-movement plays a prominent role in establishing non-verbal dialogue between humans and social robots. To be honest, I’m not sure about that but I enjoyed ‘playing’ with the wall of moving eyes.

 The piece that made me think the most, however, was “Law of Averages” by Addie Wagenknecht. An image search was conducted and then all the results were meshed together based on pixel averages, eye tracking and RGB values to create a “perfect average” aggregated image. The image above was made based on image results for the search term “Miss America 2013” and the one below based on the search term “terrorist”. I feel this work makes its intended point beautifully and strongly – that the images we make and share reinforce norms and stereotypes.