Culture

Where tech meets art: A Latent Reality

By Alex Wood 14 November 2017
Image: Ariel Majtas
Summary

The latest from Alt.Barbican

Smart cameras, talking hats, artificial intelligence, are the hottest art trends.

Artists from Alt.Barbican, an accelerator programme for artists “working at the intersection of art and technology”, showcased what they had been working on for the past six months.

This groundbreaking programme is a collaboration between The Trampery and the The Barbican.

Featuring six up-and-coming artists, this event displayed a mind-blowing collection of works that challenge our perception and appreciation of the relationship between art and technology.

Commenting on the launch, Charles Armstrong, founder of The Trampery said:

“As opportunities for grants and patronage dwindle, we believe a new generation of artists needs to be equipped with a range of entrepreneurial skills alongside their creative and technical practice.

The pieces we saw tonight are a testimony not only to the talent of the five artists but also the astonishing breadth of innovation taking place right now. I look forward to following the artists’ progress as they develop their international careers in the coming years.”

The Memo got an exclusive preview and spoke with the artists behind the collection…

Image: Ariel Majtas

Trophy Camera by Dries Depoorter, 2017

What if every picture you took was award-winning?

Trophy Camera is the camera that only takes award winning photos.

Powered by AI and trained with winning images from the prestigious World Press Photo Contest of the Year Award, its complex algorithms will only snap a photo when it sees the patterns that make a photo an award-winner.

This clever camera explores the meaning of art, and exposes the human elements required for art to have meaning.

Photos taken by Trophy Camera can be seen at trophy.camera, where worthy photos are automatically uploaded, including a few of guests at this particular event.

See more of Dries Depoorter’s work

Image: Ariel Majtas

Visions by Henry Driver, 2017

What do driverless cars see?

Visions explores the way that computers see our world. Though major breakthroughs have been made in computer vision thanks to developments in driverless cars, Driver has found that computers can easily be tricked into seeing objects totally differently by just adding a tiny bit of noise or overlaid patterns.

When asked to simulate what they think an object or scene looks like, the computers sometimes gave drastically different answers, producing out of this world images that give us a glimpse into the “brain” of a learning machine.

With these glitches on display, Visions exposes the relationship between reality and what computers see as reality – an increasingly important dichotomy as we dive headlong into a driverless future.

See more of Henry Driver’s work.

Image: Ariel Majtas

Voicing Gender by Magz Hall, 2017

“My intention of this work is to create discussion, around what is a female voice.”

Tired of the notion that the ideal radio voice is a deep, authoritative male voice, radio enthusiast and artist Magz Hall channeled her frustration in Voicing Gender.

The piece uses unisex baseball hats dyed in traditionally feminine colours to deliver pitch-changing voice exercises that are typically used by trans and non-binary people who want to sound more masculine.

Apart from expressing her interest in how women change their voice for radio, the baseball caps also pay homage to 20th Century ‘radio hats’ which were marketed toward women in the same colours.

See more of Magz Hall’s work.

Image: Ariel Majtas

More Than Two by Jasmine Johnson, 2017

Are online relationships ‘real’?

Jasmine Johnson believes so.

More Than Two is a live performance where music and voices form a beautiful presentation that seeks to understand how relationships can be formed, fostered, and celebrated through screens.

“This is the first time I have worked with performance and also the first time I have worked using such personal material,” Johnson said.

Seeing and hearing previously screen-based relationships illuminated the importance of these relationships to the people in them, when others might not realise that screen-based relationships are as real as any others.

See more of Jasmine Johnson’s work.

Image: Ariel Majtas

Co-Scriptable Bodies by Ling Tan, 2017

Ling Tan is an accomplished designer who has a particular interest in wearable technology.

In Co-Scriptable Bodies, she showcases wearables that allow users to use gestures to record their perceptions of their environment, particularly in the city. Tan says regarding this project, “The work was partly born out of a personal interest and frustration with the ever-changing political landscape, the narratives and rhetoric that were used on various matters such as ways to tackle air pollution.”

In the form of black gloves outfitted with with LEDs and wires, Tan showcased her own method to tackle air pollution – hardware used in a project to map air quality in Tower Hamlets, London.

The hardware was also used to map safety, diversity, and wheelchair accessibility in Finsbury Park, London.

See more of Ling Tan’s work.

Image: Ariel Majtas

Stressed Retinal Scanlines by Lucas Paris, 2017

In perhaps the most confronting installation of the night, Stressed Retinal Scanlines is an installation featuring bright, strobing lights which are meant to reveal the difference in perception between the human eye and a camera.

A television screen is placed front and center, being fed video from a camera directly behind it. As the lights strobe, viewers begin to pick up on differences in the way they perceive the strobes, and how it is displayed on the television screen before them.

This assaulting installation expresses the limitations our own perception and that of the camera – showing how humans and machines can make up for each other’s shortcomings.

See more of Lucas Paris’ work.

This post included additional reporting by Max Thielmeyer.