Artificial intelligence at the intersection of art, knowledge and industry

Chronique IA
A few reading suggestions in preparation for the forum "AI in the media arts, industry and academic community : Achievements, progress and limits".

The Conseil québécois des arts médiatiques, in collaboration with Element AI and Hexagram, organizes a forum on Artificial intelligence in the media arts, industry and academic community, to be held in Montreal on February 7, 2020. The objective of the event is to stimulate fruitful reflections between the media arts, academic and creative industries in AI communities through discussion.

Before this event, I would like to make a few suggestions for reading, introduce the questions that will interest us, introduce the artists who have agreed to share their experience and take a step aside to clarify the one question that we will consciously avoid during this event.

Creativity and AI

This last theme, which we will bypass in order to leave all the room for technical, historical and legal questions, is that of the creativity of the machine : will AI replace the artist? Interesting philosophical debates can still emerge from this questioning. We will soon be able to continue our reflections on this theme with the launch of issue 124 of Espace magazine, precisely entitled “AI, art without artists…“. I would also recommend reading part 6 of MIT’s Collective Wisdom study entitled “Media Co-Creation with Non-Human Systems” and the articles “Art in the Age of Artificial Intelligence” by Shauna-Jean Doherty, “The Past, Present, and Future of AI Art” by Fabian Offert and “Can Computers Create Art?” by Aaron Hertzmann. It seems important to emphasize, however, that too often the issue of AI’s creativity is used as a clickbait or a marketing strategy for the commercialization of a new technology. Reading Doherty’s article cited above, as well as Ian Bogost’s “The AI-Art Gold Rush Is Here” may shed some light on this other perspective.

The 4 main themes of the forum and the artists who will represent our community

The idea behind this forum is therefore to invite the artistic, academic and industrial communities to meet, map the Montreal AI ecosystem, discuss the real technical possibilities and limitations and the current legal framework encompassing the processes and applications of AI technologies, and then identify mutually beneficial opportunities among the actors in the field.

Thus, for each of the four panels that will punctuate the forum, we have brought together representatives from the arts, academy and industry in order to exchange perspectives during the discussions. The first panel will address the notion of AI as a tool and will allow us to understand the real technical possibilities of these technologies and to observe concrete applications in the three sectors of activity. Artist and composer Erin Gee, whose practice lies at the intersection of feminist materialism and an exploration of digital technologies, will participate in this panel. Erin Gee works with the human voice and electronic bodies to explore materiality and the embodied character of emotion.

The second discussion will complement the first one by exposing the limits – technical, ethical, theoretical – of AI today. François Quévillon, an artist whose practice aims to reveal the interactions between technologies, societies and the environment, will bring a critical perspective to the conversation. Sofian Audry‘s participation in this panel, who will represent Perte de signal and Hexagram at the forum, will also be informed by his artistic practice bringing together computer science, biology and cognitive sciences in a framework that promotes the ethics of free software, collaboration and the decompartmentalization of knowledge.

The third panel will focus on the issue of intellectual property in the context of creation processes using AI. Adam Basanta‘s practice is based on a performative exploration of commercial consumer technologies. His installation All We’d Ever Need Is One Another (2018) was projected at the heart of debates on intellectual property (and a lawsuit), an experience that will allow him to revisit the sometimes revealing role of the artist working at the forefront of new technological paradigms.

Finally, with the fourth and last panel, we will survey the research and development axes in AI within the groups and companies taking part in the forum. Marine Theunissen is an artist and researcher who develops scenic writing devices integrating interactive and immersive technologies. Her dual point of view, as a theorist and an artist applying AI technologies to her practice, will positively inform the exchanges during this panel.

Our objective with the four themes selected for the forum is to give the media arts, industry and academic communities a better visibility on past, current and future applications of AI technologies, as well as a better understanding of the main issues for each sector of activity.

See you at the forum on February 7th! And for those of you who cannot join us (places were all taken up very quickly!), the event will be recorded and shared online in the weeks to come.


Isabelle L’Heureux