I am not comfortable with artificial intelligence. Hailing from the humanities myself, defiance rises in me in the face of technology, numbers, and machines. Honestly, that is surely also because there are many things in that area that I simply do not understand. I am all the happier about all forms of expression that deal with artificial intelligence in a way that is accessible to me. The fact that more and more artists are dedicating their work to AI is helpful. Until 12 June, many places in Essen will be focusing on the link between technology and creativity, and the interaction of man and machine. I visited one of them.
Entering the SPIEL-RÄUME in the Forum Kunst und Architektur on Kopstadtplatz, I am mostly curious! I wonder if the exhibited art will give me a new access to AI. The spacious work by Tega Brain, Julian Oliver, and Bengt Sjölén confronts me immediately with the exhibition’s subject. The video installation reminds me of a triptych. Christian displays are, however, replaced by projections constantly generating new, simulated environmental scenarios using data drawn from the Internet to develop different solutions. Okay, I understand that somewhat, and my fear not to comprehend a thing has just shrunk a bit.
The interactive virtual-reality “intimate play” by Banz & Bowinkel proves that AI in art goes beyond addressing the great global subjects, and that it can, in fact, also be a fun matter. The piece is located on the exhibition’s basement floor. For the first time in my life, I am putting on virtual-reality goggles. I am impressed by how real the digital experience is feeling, even though I am aware and can see that everything around me is a virtual simulation. I am standing within a digital scene, remaining stationary yet able to jump around using the controller. Amazing! The work of Banz & Bowinkel considers humans to be an error in the system that keeps triggering new loops of calculation as soon as someone enters the virtual reality. Okay – I’ve got it. It is about global subjects after all. It is about how we leave our traces in digital space, fuelling algorithms that happen invisibly for us, while strongly influencing our lives, nevertheless.