Co-production Valerie Wolf Gang x KIBLA2LAB
Co-production Valerie Wolf Gang x KIBLA2LAB
Intermedia artist Valerie Wolf Gang was one of the artists selected in last year’s open call for co-production of RUK network projects. In KIBLA2LAB, she worked with programmer Žiga Pavlovič and together they developed a digital mirror for the interactive installation The Beautiful Face of Artificial Intelligence (2022).
The project continues her research of the relationship and influence of society on the role of the individual, which is built up by multiple layers of identity and self-awareness. In fact, the artist began exploring the relationship between individuals in her project Love Machine, where she used haptic and virtual technologies to investigate the possibilities of replacing the physical touch between two people with a virtual avatar.
The artist's research has evolved mainly around different interpretations of our own awareness and the role assigned to us by the wider social scheme. Through her own strong experience of body dysmorphia, she experienced a sense of disconnection between the physical body and her perception of her inner world; this experience motivated her to continue her research focus towards the identity of the individual and the relationship to one's own meta-physical body. She combined the questions of whether we are aware of our true image and how society views us (and at the same time shapes us) with the technology of huge databases that generate the image of the individual looking into a digital mirror that the artist created together with KIBLA2LAB programmer Žiga Pavlovič.
The digital mirror thus shows the reflection of the viewer, but his/her image starts to change slowly according to the current state of the world. It uses data such as the current state of global stock values, cryptocurrency values, atmospheric temperature, world population, sea level rise etc. as parameters of change. All these large databases thus have a live impact on the image of the individual’s reflection in the mirror and co-create the individual’s identity.
Another important element of the installation is the viewer's inner world, which also influences the person’s reflection in the mirror. With the help of a brain computer interface, the artist records the viewer’s brain waves, which also slowly start to change through the experience. The current events parameters in the world thus influence the shape and organic changes of the face, while the brain waves and the viewer's thoughts slowly change the surface of the skin. A new image is being generated in front of everyone's eyes in the mirror – this image is the sum of the real physical body, the transformation and the view of society from the World Wide Web, and the inner mental world that co-creates our final image.
The title of the installation ironically hints at how the public often imagines AI technology; that it is a separate organism that co-creates our world and builds a parallel bridge between technology and humanity, but in reality, it is a completely different story. At the heart of AI are endless databases, crude computer code, electricity, cabling, infrastructure and everything else that ordinary people do not perceive as wonderful; however, the installation lays it all bare and also shows the not-so-wonderful part of the technology itself that lies on the other side of the mirror. Far from being a romantic, autonomous being that coexists with us on this planet, AI technology is a great tool with which we can create new generated images and use databases for new inventions and approaches that will technologically evolve the functioning of our society.
Unlike the Love Machine project, in which the artist focused mainly on the relationship between two people, in The Beautiful Face of Artificial Intelligence the artist's main focus goes back to the individual and the relationship to the self. Do we really know ourselves and are we aware of our identity within the social frameworks we live in? The relationship between technology and humanity is one of the main elements that often appear in the works of artist Valerie Wolf Gang. In this project, we also observe the symbiosis of two worlds and look at the prediction of possible scenarios opened up by the project, which offers further possibilities for the development of technology to study thought patterns, analyze the phenomenon of body dysmorphia, analyze in more detail the use of the brain computer interface, and process online data in order to influence the role and the image of the individual.
Production: KID KIBLA, RUK Centre Network, DDT
Co-production: UV Arthouse, KD Galerija GT Ljubljana
Artist: Valerie Wolf Gang
Technical realization: Žiga Pavlovič
Acknowledgment: DFKI – German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence, Goethe Institute, FabLab Maribor, Urša Bonelli Potokar, Sara Mikelić, Heike Leonhard, Dr. Daniel Sonntag