Week 7: Bio Animatronics

Artificial Intelligence is created through a complex infrastructure of algorithms and computations to create a self-sufficient system that requires no directions.  Self-capable of making its own decisions, A.I. is a field that is a field of unexplored territory.  Inventions like Siri and Deep Blue are just the first stepping stones to developing complex systems.  I’m always wondering when technology will ever reach a different level of networking, something called “Internet of Things”.  This term refers to a type of speculative technology in which most everyday mundane objects are computerized to record information based on you.  A similar concept is the cookie from the Christmas episode of Black Mirror.  This small tiny machine acts as a computer that records the daily interactions of the user.  The tiny computer or in the episode known as the “cookie”, first records the user’s activities, and in turn creates a schedule and manages the household appliances such as an alarm clock, or cooking for the user right when he or she wakes up.  The main point is, this form of synchronous network between interfaces is only available in science fiction.  This form of complex connection and interactivity is what brought me to the art piece known as The Flock.

The Flock is an art piece by Ken Rinaldo and Mark Grossman.  It is a group of interactive sculptures that interact with each other through Artificial Intelligence.  Each “arm” is a long mechanical structure consisting of three infrared sensors at the top which act as the “eyes”.  Furthermore, they have more cameras on the tips of the arms to observe the audience who interact with the sculptures.  These arms also have microphones installed, not only to record the audience’s sound, but also to communicate with each other; these arms use their own language made up of telephone tones.  Through this form of communication, the structures all act together as a system instead of six individual arms.  For instance, if an audience member begins to touch and move one of the structures, the arm interacting with the audience emits a sound which the other arms receive and react.  In this case, the arms might perceive the audience touching the arm as unpleasant so the other arms might move away from the first arm.

The artists Ken Rinaldo and Mark Grossman created this art-piece based on the behaviors analogous to the flock of animals such as birds or schools of fish.  Or in another comparison, the many noodle-like structures of the Flock could also represent the arms of an octopus all working together.

I think throughout the chapter in the book, this art piece stood out the most to me because it was an interactive form of Artificial Intelligence in a unique way.  Instead of one computational device, it has six which further shines its capabilities as an Artificial Intelligence.  This form of complexity makes it almost life-like or similar to biological functions.  Each “arm” of the art piece work individually and as a group and show awareness of themselves and the environment.

Furthermore, this brings the question of the future and what this current art piece could bring to us.

The interface draws people in, and the interactivity, “evolution,” and
behavior of the creatures is fascinating. However, the work also highlights a critical dilemma posed by evolutionary art and indeed by much of the art discussed in this book that works the borders of art/science and technology: How can this art best be analyzed, evaluated, and discussed? (Wilson 364)

Like I mentioned before this could lead to the “Internet of Things”, where instead of many structures it could be the mundane objects you see around the house.

-Elliot Yang


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