2 edition prize
RE:HUMANISM Art Prize – 2 EditioN
RE:DEFINE THE BOUNDARIES
Opening May 5th 2021
5/05/2021 – 30/05/2021
Curated by Daniela Cotimbo
Powered by Alan Advantage
explore the exhibition
Re:Humanism 2 – Re:define the Boundaries is the final exhibition of Re:Humanism Art Prize, the first Italian art prize dedicated to the convergence between contemporary art and Artificial Intelligence.
At its second edition, the art prize was born out of the need to investigate the political, social, and aesthetic implications of AI algorithms and provide a perspective about the future of these technologies.
The exhibition, curated by Daniela Cotimbo, was realized with the support of Alan Advantage.
The transformation of the concepts of body and identity in the age of artificial intelligence and the consequent political implications, the new modes of production, the changes brought by robotics and machine learning, the definition of an anthropological approach to AI and the visions on the future of our Planet are all key topics of this edition. Topics the artists interpreted following different paths.
In the first place, we find the Entangled Others, who exploited the many opportunities given by
artificial intelligence to imagine new forms of relationships, starting from the analysis of the mechanisms regulating coexistence in barrier reefs. In second place, Irene Fenara metaphorically reinterprets the phenomenon of tiger extinction and our necessity to preserve a digital memory.
In third place, instead, Yuguang Zhang wonders about the relation that binds us all to the objects we all use daily and the subtle boundary between human and non-human.
Among the other finalists: Johanna Bruckner reflects on the instability of gender categories and the collective Umanesimo Artificiale turned DNA mutations into sound, while the duo formed by Elizabeth Christoforetti & Romy El Sayah puts forward a new approach to urban planning. Mariagrazia Pontorno and Egor Kraft linked ancient techniques and contemporary technologies, while Numero Cromatico raises the question of the future of human artists in the world of AI. Carola Bonfili explores a virtual world populated with her creatures, experimenting with the disturbance given by the detachment of one’s otherness and consciousness.
Besides the ten finalists, the prize also saw the participation of Francesco Luzzana, winner of Romaeuropa Digitalive Prize which will take place during the famous Roman festival in the fall of 2021.
The exhibition will also see a program of online talks with artificial intelligence experts, the artists and professionals of the world of contemporary art and culture.
Beneath the neural wawes 2.0
Courtesy: the artist
Three Thousand Tigers – Courtesy: the artists
(Non-)Human: The Moving Bedsheet
Courtesy: the artist
Elizabeth Bowie Christoforetti & Romy El Sayah
Body As Building
Courtesy: the artist
The Flute-Singing – Courtesy: the artist
Courtesy: the artist
Epitaphs For The Human Artist
Courtesy: the artist
Chinese Ink – Courtesy: the artist
Super Hu.Fo* Voynich
Courtesy: the artist
Courtesy: the artist
Object Oriented Choreography (OOC)Courtesy: the artist
ARTICLE 1- PURPOSE
Re:Humanism Cultural Association announces its second edition of Re:Humanism Art Prize. The contest aims to investigate the advent and dissemination of Artificial Intelligence technologies in Contemporary Art.
Participants are invited to submit projects related to the theme:
Art and Artificial Intelligence – a proactive vision of the future that awaits us.
And, in particular, on the following topics:
- Body and identity in the age of AI
- Machine learning, Robotics and Computer Vision
- AI Policy and Abuse
- The Anthropology of Artificial Intelligence
- A vision for the future of the planet
- Although the works do not necessarily involve the use of these technologies, they must reflect upon their social value and impact.
ARTICLE 2 – APPLICATIONS SUBMISSION AND REQUIRED DOCUMENTS
Participation in the competition is free and open to professional artists of all ages and nationalities. The deadline for submitting proposals is January 12, 2021 at 12:00 p.m. CEST.
By that date, candidates must send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the following attachments:
- Prize Entry Form.
- Project in pdf format containing:
- Project description;
- Images or sketches useful for understanding the project;
- Dimensions of the works for the exhibition planning;
- Detailed list of technical equipment required to complete the project and any additional useful information;
- Approximate budget for the realization of the artwork.
- Bio and CV of the artist, link to her/his websites (if available).
- A short video presentation of the project (maximum 2 minutes).
With regard to large-file projects, we will accept WeTranfer submissions.
ARTICLE 3 – SELECTION AND AWARDING
Eleven (11) projects will be selected by the jury composed of the organizers, high-level external experts in the field of Contemporary Art and New digital technologies, and will be distributed as follows:
- 1° place – 3.000,00 € cash prize + 4.000,00 € production budget
- 2 ° place – 2.000,00 € cash prize + 3.000,00 € production budget
- 3 ° place – 1.000,00 € cash prize + 2000,00 € production budget
- The other 7 classified will receive a participation cost coverage of 500 € per artist (any cost of transportation, food and accommodation is to be considered included in this budget).
- The top 10 selected will participate in an exclusive exhibition in Rome.
- Romaeuropa Digitalive Prize – to be allocated to a future performative project produced and presented within the official program of the festival (economic value: 1,500.00€ production, 500.00€ fee for the artist – period October 2021).
The first three prizes are to be considered with the acquisition of the artwork; therefore, the artists will be required to leave to the organization the entire work or part of it, in accordance with the agreements following prize acceptance.
Winners will be announced on www.re-humanism.com by January 31, 2021. All finalist artists will gain visibility through Re:Humanism official communication channels and their projects will be presented to the network of Alan Advantage, the main sponsor of the initiative. This aims to offer the works and their authors wider visibility and market opportunity.
Projects presented from first edition winners will also be accepted to the contest, as long as these are original works.
ARTICLE 4 –SELECTION OF WINNERS
Works will be evaluated by the jury composed of the organizers, high-level external experts in Contemporary Art and New digital technologies, and Artificial Intelligence specialists.
The jury will examine submitted works also on the basis of specific expertise in the field of Contemporary Art promotion.
In evaluating candidates, the conceptual elements of the work presented, the artist’s curriculum and the economic viability of the project, will all be taken into consideration.
The organization retains the right to reconsider their choices where these are incompatible with the purposes of the initiative.
ARTICLE 5 – GROUNDS FOR EXCLUSION
The following must be regarded as grounds of exclusion:
- failure to submit all required documentation;
- explicit incompatibility with the proposed topics;
- projects that run counter the ethical principles of the organization.
ARTICLE 6 – WINNERS EXHIBITION
The exhibition of the ten (10) finalists will take place at Maxxi / Sala Corner in May 2021, barring unforeseen circumstances due to the current health emergency from Covid-19.
Re:humanism is committed to ensuring the availability of facilities and materials strictly required for the exhibition of selected projects.
Finalists will be invited to send their work at least six (6) days prior to the exhibition, completed of all necessary materials and any assembly instructions.
Costs of transportation, shipping and collection are included in reimbursement of expenses. The organization retains the right to exclude any participant from the contest whether delivery of the work does not take place within the time limits set. Following the exhibition, the works can be exposed in Re:Humanism offices in Rome for the duration of 60 days.
The exhibition will be accompanied by a catalogue published by Edizioni Kappabit.
At the end of the exhibition and the following period of residence, it is the artist’s responsibility to collect the artwork and the shipping cost is entirely at his own expense. If the artwork is not collected within fifteen (15) days from contract conclusion, the organization retains the right to consider it as its own asset and to dispose of it the way it will deem more appropriate.
ARTICLE 7 – RESPONSABILITY
Re:Humanism, while ensuring the maximum care and custody of the works received, declines all responsibility for any theft, fire or damage of any kind to the works that may occur during the stages of the event.
Any claim for insurance must be signed by the artist her/himself and it’s at her/his own expense or in special cases evaluated with the organization.
ARTICLE 8 – PROMOTIONAL CONTENT
Winners will be asked for promotional contents such as photos, videos, and texts. The reallocation of the prize may be assessed in case of refusal to submit these materials.
ARTICLE 9 – THE EXHIBITION AND THE COMMERCIAL NETWORK
Works can be purchased by companies among Re:Humanism network or from their clients.
Re:Humanism reserves the right to retain 20% of the value of the work in case of sale.
ARTICLE 10 – SECRETARIAT OF COMPETITION
The competition commission is composed by:
Re: Humanism Team
Via Oslavia 6, 00195, Rome
ARTICLE 11 – CONSENT
Each candidate expressly authorizes Re:Humanism Association and its legal representatives to process the personal data transmitted, in accordance with the new European legislation on data processing (EU Regulation no. 679 / 2016) of GDPR, also for the inclusion in databases operated by such persons. Each participant freely grants to Re:Humanism and its legal representatives all the rights for the reproduction of works and texts entitled to the prize, for the images and videos that will be inserted in the catalogue, for the publication on the Prize’s official website, and for any other type of organization’s communication, promotion and activities. The works will remain property of the artists, with the exception of the first three prizes, and in all cases, the name will always be indicated. The material sent for submission will not be returned. Contest organizers will retain the right to make a final decision on everything that is not specified in this communication. The Organization reserves the right to make changes to the notification when necessary. Enrollment in the competition means complete and unconditional acceptance of the articles in this regulation.
ATTENTION!!! In order to allow all members of the jury to evaluate the project, the description must also be presented in English.
ATTENZIONE!!! Al fine di permettere a tutti i componenti della giuria di valutare il progetto, almeno la descrizione deve essere presentata anche in inglese.
CEO Alan Advantage
Entrepreneur and manager with 30 years of experience in ICT and Innovation sectors. Expert in business processes, innovation management, technology scouting, business impact analysis, Artificial Intelligence impact on business strategies, Internet of Things and smart living. Professional of business development and executive manager. He is actually a startups Advisor and Business Angel Investor, personally supporting 25 startups.
Art historian and curator based in Rome. Her research is focused on the present issues investigated through different expressive media, in particular new technologies. She recently founded and curated the Re:Humanism Art Prize dedicated to the relationship between Art and Artificial Intelligence. As curator she worked with many museums and galleries and wrote several critical texts for art magazines and catalogs. Among the most recent projects: 2020 – Allegra ma non troppo, Sonia Andresano, AlbumArte, Rome; 2019 – Complessità – Enrica Beccalli And Roula Gholmie, Romaeuropa Festival, Rome; Re:Humanism Art Prize, collective exhibition, Albumarte, Rome; 2018 – Ionian Archaeological Archives, Marco Emmanuele, Bivy, Anchorage She’s editor at Inside Art.
Professor University of Oxford
Professor of Philosophy and Ethics of Information at the University of Oxford, where he is Director of the OII Digital Ethics Lab. He is a world-renowned expert on digital ethics, the ethics of AI, the philosophy of information, and the philosophy of technology. He has published more than 300 works, translated into many languages. He is deeply engaged with policy initiatives on the socio-ethical value and implications of digital technologies and their applications, and collaborates closely on these topics with many governments and companies worldwide.
Art curator Romaeuropa
Independent curator and criticism based in Bologna. Her research focuses on contemporary experimental art movements, with a particular interest in multimedia, liminal practices, emerging artists and interactive and participatory projects. She actively collaborates with several institutions, galleries and festivals (MAMbo – Museo di Arte Moderna Bologna, CUBO – Centro Unipol Bologna, Romaeuropa Festival among others) on the presentation and development of her research topics curating exhibitions, screening, talks and workshop. She is part of LaRete Art Projects curatorial collective and of IKT (International Association of Curators of Contemporary Art). Since 2013 she is a frequent contributor for Artribune magazine and Creativeapplication.net.
Lorem is a multidisciplinary artist inquirying about human-computer interaction in the age of Artificial Intelligence. Working with neural networks and AI systems, he produces sound, visuals and text. He collaborates with a wide range of institutions, including among others: Ars Electronica, London Design Biennale, NXT Museum Amsterdam, Sheffield International Documentary Festival, Museo Triennale di Milano, HEK Basel, Transmediale, Fiber Festival, Design Museum. Lorem is one of the winning project of the Re:Humanism Art Prize #1 Edition.
Product Director Google
Trond Wuellner is a seasoned product leader working at the intersection of software and AI with thoughtfully designed hardware products. A general manager responsible for all aspects corporate development spanning strategy formation, building diverse high-performance teams, engineering, design, relationship development and executing to go to market at scale. Passionate about creating positive impact for the Ocean through sustainable businesses innovation.
Independent art curator
Independent curator and art writer. She is co-founder of the Magic Lantern Film Festival. She has curated a number of exhibitions in museums and institutions, as well as in project spaces, and galleries. From 2016 she is guest curator at the American Academy in Rome. Between 2009 and 2016 she was co-founding Director and curator of Nomas Foundationì. She curated the Opening section at ARCOmadrid in 2018 and 2019. Between 2015 and 2017 she co-founded and curated the project Granpalazzo. She teaches at John Cabot University, Rome; Master of Art, Luiss, Rome; and IED, Rome. On the occasion of the Art Quadriennale in 2020, she curated the first edition of the Premio AccadeMibact, Domani Qui Oggi. Currently she is in the curatorial board of Artissima.
Art curator and scholar
Valentino Catricalà (Ph.D) is a scholar and contemporary art curator specialised in the analysis of the relationship of artists with new technologies and media. He is currently the curator of SODA Gallery in Manchester and lecturer at Manchester Metropolitan University. He is also the director of the Art Section of the Maker Faire-The European Edition, the biggest Faire on creativity and innovation in Europe and Art Consultant at Paris Sony COSA Lab. Valentino has been the founder and the artistic director of the Rome Media Art Festival (MAXXI Museum), Art Project coordinator at Fondazione Mondo Digitale. Valentino has curated exhibitions in important museum and private Galleries such as Hermitage (San Petersburg), Minnesota Street Project (San Francisco), New York Media Center, Stelline (Milano), MAXXI Museum (Rome), Palazzo delle Esposizioni (Rome), Ca’ Foscari (Venice), New Dheli Italian Cultural Institute (India), among others. He is the author of several essays (see Academia.edu) and books such as “Media Art. Prospettive delle arti verso il XXI secolo. Storie, teorie, preservazione” (Mimesis, 2016) and the book “The Artist as Inventor” (Rowman & Littlefiled, 2021).
Head of Visual MIT-IBM Watson AI Lab
Mauro Martino is the founder of the Visual Artificial Intelligence Lab at IBM Research. His projects have been shown at different art galleries and museums including the Lincoln Center (New York), ZKM | Center for Art and Media (Karlsruhe), Serpentine Gallery (London), Ludwig Museum (Budapest),“kim?” Contemporary Art Centre (Riga). His work is part of the permanent collection of the Ars Electronica Center, Linz. Martino is based in Cambridge, U.S.A.
Managing Director Ars Electronica
Michael Mondria (formerly Michael Badics) is Managing Director of Ars Electronica Solutions, a division within Ars Electronica (http://www.aec.at/solutions/de/). He founded and ran Memetics GmbH in Berlin, a software company in the field of media art and creative technologies. Before that, he was Director Business Development at the Ars Electronica Futurelab (http://new.aec.at/futurelab/de/). He worked as a software engineer and manager at the multinational software company Fabasoft AG (www.fabasoft.com). He started his career after studying computer science at the Johannes Kepler University in Linz.
Entangled Others is the shared studio practice of artists Feileacan McCormick and Sofia Crespo. Their work focuses upon ecology, nature and generative arts, with a focus on giving the more-than-human new forms of presence and life in digital space. Exploring questions of relationship, biodiversity, and awareness through biology-inspired technologies. In turn, highlighting how through conscious efforts new technology can be used to bring attention and awareness to the unseen that we are tightly interwoven with.
PHOTO CAPTION: Entangled Others, Beneath the Neural Waves 2.0, (in progress)
BENEATH THE NEURAL WAVES 2.0
How can we dream up new ecosystems? Can doing so help us understand the concept of always existing in relationship to others? Beneath the Neural Waves 2.0 explores biodiversity through an attempt at creating (digitally) an aquatic ecosystem as a means of attempting to engage with the very abstract concept of relationship.
The choice of specifically the coral reef was due to our belief that these ecosystems are the perfect example of how interconnectedness occurs in the natural world. No one creature is the core component of the reef; instead, it emerges from the interwoven whole of all the individual component species. Entangled Others uses deep learning to take a contemporary approach to pattern extraction. It facilitates extracting three-dimensional patterns (output from 3D GANs) from nature and rearranging them to envision new speculative worlds. As a whole, the physical artefact and its digital extension, reach out towards the complex entanglement of natural life, both with itself and others. The sculptural body will be accompanied by a generative oceanic sound in collaboration with the sound artist TBD.
THREE THOUSAND TIGERS
In the collective imagination the figure of the tiger represents a pervasive image, a powerful symbol, almost the archetype par excellence of animal and natural world and seems to be everywhere: from the logos of fashion houses to cereal boxes, on t-shirts, too.
However, there are more images in the world representing tigers than real living tigers. To learn how to recognize and reproduce images in turn, a generative algorithm would need millions of images; by proposing fewer of them, the results move significantly away from the real. Working with such an algorithm, Irene Fenara creates images of animals that arise from the union of three thousand images of tigers – the current number of living tigers – that ultimately retain only some of the original characteristics of the animal. It is not only a reflection on natural change but also on the change in the state of images: generating and reproducing remains the only way to save against natural extinction – as from digital extinction – think of file playback and how they lose quality over time and with the progress of computers and software. The formal rendering in the form of tapestries refers, then, both to the improper use of animal skins as carpets, in certain fashionable houses, and to the similar mode in which weaving and algorithm work: the texture and warp, in fact, move on the frame like the strings of code that process. In an attempt to increase the digital fauna of an endangered animal, Three Thousand Tigers reflects on the linguistic parallelism between the natural world and image production, paradoxically trying to save a species.
Irene Fenara (1990) is graduated in Sculpture and Visual Arts at the Academy of Fine Arts in Bologna, Italy. Her research explores the gesture at the basis of every photographic operation: looking. In particular she observes, investigates and interprets the way machines look. Her work has been exhibited in public and private institutions such as Fondazione Prada Osservatorio (2016), Milan; Fondazione Fotografia Modena (2017); MAMbo – Museo d’Arte Moderna di Bologna (2018); Palazzo delle Esposizioni (2018), Rome; Fondazione Francesco Fabbri (2018), Pieve di Soligo (TV); Kunst Merano Arte (2019), Merano (BZ) and Villa Merkel Esslingen (2020).
PHOTO CAPTION: Irene Fenara, Three Thousand Tigers, 2020, handmade wool tapestry, 300 x 200 cm, Courtesy the artist and UNA Galleria. Photo by Marco Fava
Yuguang (YG) Zhang is a New York-based creative technologist, new media artist and a research resident of the Interactive Telecommunications Program (ITP) at New York University. An ex-software product manager and artistic director, his current practice, which incorporates interactive media, installation, and live performance, explores the reciprocal relationship between human and technology, the connections we make with tangibleand intangible AI systems, and the cultural and ethical shifts that come along. His works have been showcased at NeurIPS, MOLTO x Art, the NYC Media Lab, New Inc., CultureHub, Movement Research, Battery Dance Festival, The Center at West Park, Processing Foundation, Re- Work Deep Learning Summit, Cycling ‘74 Expo, Fu:bar, B·O·N·D and more.
PHOTO CAPTION: Yuguang Zhang, (Non-)Human: The Mooving Bedsheet, (in progress)
(NON-)HUMAN: THE MOVING BEDSHEET
In the collective imagination the figure of the tiger represents a pervasive image, a powerful symbol, almost the archetype par excellence of animal and natural world and seems to be everywhere: from the logos of fashion houses to cereal boxes, on t-shirts, too.
What is human, what is not human, what is in-between? “(Non-)Human: The Moving Bedsheet” is an art installation that conjures the hidden humanness in objects and imagines, a speculative world where a human exists in non-human forms. We live a life surrounded by objects we build to serve us: curtains, lamps, and many others. We use our body to interact with these objects rubbing our face against warm towels, or sinking into a fluffy bed. We, as humans, rarely consider them to be part of us. We tend to think of ourselves as different, we’re the ones with spirituality, reason, intelligence, while they’re not. The advancements in modern physics have pointed out the similarity between humans and objects in terms of materiality. Emerging technology such as ML/AI has shown the promise of non-human intelligence through computation. More than ever, the borderline between human and object has become blurred. If there is a spectrum that measures the level of Human-ness vs. Object-ness, what lies in the middle ground? How close might an object endowed with a certain level of intelligence or consciousness be to a human? As a response, “(Non-)Human: The Moving Bedsheet” is a series of art installations that explore the semi-human, semi-object territory by creating humans in non-human forms. The initial piece of this series is a bedsheet that tweaks and bends in the form of its owner, now up and out for the day. The project concept is based on research in three domains: discoveries in physics and cosmology regarding the origin of life and human; the philosophical notions about our relationship of consciousness to the universe as a whole; and related religious roots. “(Non-)Human: The Moving Bedsheet” is the result of approaching this topic from a technological perspective within this big picture, especially by using technology as a bridge to connect human behaviours with object behaviours.
Elizabeth Bowie Christoforetti (1978) is the founding principal at Supernormal, a design and research practice based in Cambridge, MA. Supernormal’s work focuses on the design of form and processes that balance contextual and cultural relevance with the contemporary imperative to scale beyond a single instance, and to reach more people and urban places. She is also Assistant Professor in the Practice of Architecture at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, where she is a principal investigator within the Laboratory for Design Technologies. Her work in both academia and practice explores the deep cultural, typological, and process-based implications of large data sets and scalable systems in the design of the built environment; recent and ongoing work focuses these potentials in relationship to innovations in housing design and the future of architectural design practice.
Romy El Sayah (1993) is a designer, artist and technologist based in Boston, MA. Her work involves experimenting with new media to bridge the space between the physical and the digital. She recently graduated with a Master in “Design Studies in Technology” from the Harvard Graduate School of Design, where she learnt computational design, machine learning tools and interactive media. Passionate about participatory futures and collective creativity, she loves to explore these fields through speculation and computation. Since graduating, she has held a research position at the Laboratory for Design Technologies and a design position at MathWorks where she is developing educational tools around the topic of bias in Data Science models.
PHOTO CAPTION: Elizabeth Christoforetti and Romy El Sayah, Body as Building, 2021
ELIZABETH BOWIE CHRISTOFORETTI & ROMY EL SAYAH
BODY AS BUILDING
Since the Renaissance and the birth of modern architecture, from the definitive writing of Alberti to contemporary Starchitect production, the architect has been the individual, authorial agent of the built form that hosts our lives together.
As we move into an era of machine intelligence, authorship is unstable, driven by immediate digital access to the cultural history of humanity and the capacity for a new mode of machine-augmented creative production. This project opens up creative architectural production to imagine a new era of design of the built environment in which any individual may have an authorial stake in the imagination and production of their built context. In this project, anybody may be cast as building; collectively, the production of this work will make up a new type of urbanism, a neighbourhood and place that is imagined as a direct translation of the accumulative identity of its inhabitants. The identity, role, and agency of the designer are scrambled into a new set of horizontal relationships, having slipped out of its historical top-down orientation. In this new form of design production, the architect produces a (machine learning) model rather than a maquette, radically transforming the identity and role of “the designer” in relation to society and enabling many open-ended outcomes rather than a single predetermined work. Authorship of any individual work is hybrid–a collaboration between architect, machine, and the stakeholder body. The home is an extension of the body and the work of architecture is a gestalt grouping of bodies, a scalable system of augmented creativity, identity, and physicality. The project, Body as Building, reveals itself as a changing set of body-home “neighbourhoods”. A fixed centre will receive and transfer visitor visages into unique body-homes, which will continuously accumulate into a growing and flexible collective identity processed by artificial intelligence.
The Flute-Singing is a CGI-modeled video that tells the life of a mythological creature, prior to his role in a video game. The project is intended as a spin-off of the story of one of the creatures presents in a wider project, Second Order Reality, a video-game currently in progress, that plans to meld videogame techniques with states of introspection that concern the intimate perception of one’s own body and immediate surroundings.
The work interprets the landscapes and symbologies of a range of different texts, including The Temptation of St. Anthony by Gustave Flaubert and The Island of Doctor Moreau by H.G. Wells. Although the creature’s appearance recalls that of a fantastic being, alien, or a hybrid fruit of some experiment, its interiority reflects the spirit of an existentialist and melancholic character. In the memories of this creature, there are traces of narrations of some figures present in the Metamorphoses of Ovid, such as Procris, Scylla, Arachne or Salmacis. The classical narrative construction of the Metamorphoses is dismembered within an AI program designed for role-playing games. The different stories – as well as different inputs inserted as impromptu responses to the reaction of the program – are used to influence the software, which in turn builds other responses, based on predetermined algorithms that have the purpose of constructing plausible stories. This material will be used to outline the psychological profile of a creature who feels nostalgia but does not know what for. The intentions to use men as a universal repertoire of behaviour, and to apply this behaviour, de-boned and-structured, to a creature who questions its being in the world. The audio project will be realized by Francesco Fonassi.
Carola Bonfili (1981, Rome) lives and works between Brescia and Rome. Taking inspiration from natural forms and cognitive mechanics, yet driven by an obsessive attention to details and hidden macro phenomena (mnemonic functions, mental/subconscious forms and impossible resolutions) all her work moves toward multi-layered narrations, crystallized each time by a strong idea of the self and its cultural relevance across the time. AI principles, CGI, VR, A/V environments and automatic writing are the main tools of her recent research. A performative matrix is often found in the production processes at the basis of her sculptural works and environmental installations, which are immersive in nature and tend to forms of transmedial narration. Her work was presented in various institutions both in Italy and abroad, of which: MAXXI, Rome; Triennale Milano, Milan; Italian Institute of Culture, Los Angeles; Centre d’Art Contemporain Genève; La Galleria Nazionale, MACRO, American Academy in Rome. She has gotten several awards and acknowledgements: Premio LUM, 2011 (finalist); Rome Prize, American Academy, 2008-2009 (winner); Premio Strozzina, Florence, 2009 (finalist); and she participated in a residency with the American Academy in Rome in 2007 and with MACRO in 2012. Since 2004 she collaborated with the magazine NERO with which in 2011 she begins her publication of Names of Numbers; a series of monographic books about drawing.
PHOTO CAPTION: Carola Bonfili, The Flute Singing, 2021, production still, CGI video, graphic project by Imago, sound by Francesco Fonassi. Production MAMbo – Museo d’Arte Moderna di Bologna and Centre d’Art Contemporain Genève
Johanna Bruckner (Vienna, 1984) is based in Zurich. Her recent research shows an entanglement of human, animal, technology, sex, and atmosphere in which molecularization shapes a networked world. Recent exhibitions and screenings include: SCHIRN Kunsthalle Frankfurt, ICA, Institute for Contemporary Art, Milan; Roehrs & Boetsch, Zürich; The Transmediale 2020, Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin; The 57th Venice Biennial; Galerie EIGEN+ART Lab, Berlin; CAC, Centre; The Architecture Venice Biennale 2018; KW, Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin; Migros Musem für Gegenwartskunst, Zürich; Villa Croce, Museum for Contemporary Art, Genoa; the Kunsthaus in Hamburg; the Kunstverein Harburger Bahnhof; Cabaret Voltaire, Zurich. Her work was arwarded by numerous awards and was nominated for a fellowship at Harvard University, MIT, Cambridge. She was a Visual Arts Fellow at the Istituto Svizzero in Rom, the Akademie Schloss Solitude, the Banff Center for Visual Arts in Canada and is currently a fellow at the Jan Van Eyck Academie. Bruckner is working on a commission for Mediterranea Biennale for Young Art and Swissnex San Francisco and received the Recognition Award for Fine Arts of Lower Austria, 2020.
PHOTO CAPTION:Johanna Bruckner, Molecular Sex, 4K/HD video, still, 2020
The future is often described as a toxic breakdown of the human. For Johanna Bruckner, the hybridization of the nonhuman and human is rather a starting point for the indeterminacy of being.
Her video installation, Molecular Sex, shows an entanglement of human, animal, technology, sex, and atmosphere in which molecularization shapes a networked world. The fluid main character is a fictitious sex bot that evokes plastic as a chemical substance impacting biological life; it further performs as a brittle star (a sea creature) as well as nanotechnological beings that distort lovemaking and gender. Pushing the limits of the human sensorium, it invents technological prostheses that redistribute the relations and patterns with which subjects comprehend the world. The project asks how the molecularization and indeterminacy of being, today, might inform futures better tooled to deal with current technological, political and ecological changes.
EPITAPHS FOR THE HUMAN ARTIST
In classical culture, the epitaph was a commemorative speech performed by an orator in honour of war heroes. In modern poetry instead, it started to acquire the shape of a short text used as a sepulchral description.
Thus, it became an actual literary form used not only by the loved ones of the departed but also by artists, intellectuals and poets to glorify what was done during the life of the one that passed away. Starting for the peculiarities of this literary form and its uses in Western culture, Numero Cromatico designed Epitaphs for the human artist, namely an installation that generates epitaphs in honour of the human artist as we used to know and imagined him/her to be up until today but that, at the same time, states his/her death, his/her end. The viewer finds him/herself in front of an interactive grave that generates, in specific time frames, new texts through which the machine symbolically honours the human artist. The goal is that of putting the viewer in an alienating and ambiguous condition: at the time of reading, the author, the subject and the “non-human” nature of the texts are unknown and become comprehensible only by reading the title of the artwork and the synopsis. Specifically, one of the most advanced technologies in the field of AI, namely a text generator based on Artificial Neural Networks, was designed in collaboration with the Università di Verona.
Numero Cromatico is an artists’ collective established in Rome in 2011. The group’s artistic research and production are based on the scientific approach to art with special attention given to the most recent neuroscientific findings, neuroaesthetics, experimental psychology, literature and visual communication.
The artists at Numero Cromatico founded the first and only Italian journal of neuroaesthetics, Nodes (ISSN: 2281-1168), a cornerstone for artists and researchers worldwide. Moreover, the collective organizes exhibitions, workshops, lectures and designs curatorial and editorial projects. Since 2016, Numero Cromatico has decided to open an experimental studio space in Rome where its members have been presenting their research projects to the public. Members of the collective: Dionigi Mattia Gagliardi, Manuel Focareta, Marco Marini, Salvatore Gaetano Chiarella, Giulia Torromino, Sara Cuono, Luisa Amendola, Licia Masi, Marianna Rossi.
PHOTO CAPTION: Numero Cromatico, Epitaphs for the Human Artist (in Progress)
Interdisciplinary artist and researcher Egor Kraft (1986, Leningrad) lives and works in Moscow & Berlin. As an artistic method he looks for ways to produce work which sit on the boundaries between realities and their virtual misrepresentations. He participated in the 5th Moscow Biennial for Young Art, Ural Industrial Biennial, Ars Electronica, WRO Biennial, Impakt Festival, Open Codes at ZKM, and other museum and solo shows internationally. He was several times nominated for Lumen Prize (UK), Kandinsky Prize (RU), Pulsar Prize (FR), Inno- vation Prize and Kuryokhin Prize. In 2017 he was included in the New East 100, a list of people, places and projects shaping our world today by Calvert Journal (UK). In 2019 he became STARTS residencies research fellow at University of Southampton and Garage Museum Art & Technology Grant recipient.
PHOTO CAPTION: Egor Kraft, Chinese Ink, 2019. Electronic ink screens, neural network, custom produced dataset, custom designed liquid cooled server; custom e-ink video playback software driver.
Chinese Ink is a generative installation in which electronic ink screens are displaying real-time streamed outputs of an AI system, trained on images of inkblots and set to generate visually similar images, producing dozens of samples per second.
The AI system is a generative-adversarial artificial neural network that is trained on a dataset of nearly a thousand blots of ink splashed onto watercolour paper. The installation calls on the traditional chinese ink wash painting technique. However, it is not directed towards stylistic connotations or iconography of Eastern cultural tradition, in focus instead is the ink itself, its material qualities and ontology. With this project Egor Kraft questions the ways in which the chinese ink technique continue to survive through the stages of ever-expanding industrialization. The work is a visual meditation on tracing the links between traditions, technologies, time, and techno- industrial processes leading to automation and new tools bringing forth new emerging aesthetics, as they derive from formerly dominating visual languages.
SUPER HU.FO* VOYNICH
The work starts from the Voynich manuscript story – the most mysterious and esoteric code in the world – and the innumerable attempts to translate it. This is a small manuscript that carbon 14 analysis dates from the 15th century, but what transformed it into a cult text is undoubtedly the language used, unknown and in all probability encrypted.
In recent years, there has been talk of the use of artificial intelligence, but in an incorrect way: in fact, to date, lexical recurrence software has been used, based on percentage calculation. The code has been the subject of several university classes dedicated to artificial intelligence but in none of the hypotheses of advanced solutions was the AI. All the proposals made so far are very subjective, ambiguous and above all complex, from the most imaginative to the most rigorous hypotheses, it is clear the desire to win a challenge rather than find a unique solution, a key that is the perfect fit between the figure and the underlying meaning. Super Hu.Fo* Voynich is born from this assumption, that is the range of possibilities that makes human thought so flexible and creative, and from the results driven by the unconscious leaps of imagination. What the artist wants to achieve is the translation of a piece of code, using machine learning and artificial intelligence, but providing the machine with the solution to find. And therefore falsifying the outcome of the calculation in a deliberate manner, playing with the Moravec paradox, widely used in the AI environment, according to which machines are good at what humans are weak in, and vice versa.
Mariagrazia Pontorno (Catania, 1978). She lives and works in Rome. Her work has been shown in Italian and international museums, including MAXXI in Rome, MACRO in Rome, the Biedermann Museum in Donaueschingen, the Stadtgalerie in Kiel, MLAC in Rome, Museo di Castel S.Elmo in Naples, Art Center di Thessaloniki, Museo RISO in Palermo, as well as in galleries and non-profit venues such as Monitor in Rome, ISCP in New York, HSF also in New York, Fondazione Noesi Studio Carrieri in Martina Franca, Passaggi Arte Contemporanea in Pisa, Casa Musumeci Greco in Rome, CCCC (Centre del Carme Cultura Contemporania) in Valencia.
PHOTO CAPTION:Mariagrazia Pontorno, Super Hu.Fo* Voynich, (in progress)
Filippo Rosati is Director of Umanesimo Artificiale, a studio and artist platform investigating what does it mean to be human in the era of artificial intelligence. Fabio Rovai is an interdisciplinary artist working in between traditional media and AI. Moisés Horta Valenzuela is an autodidact sound artist, technologist and electronic musician from Tijuana, México, working in the fields of computer music, artificial intelligence and the history and politics of emerging digital technologies.
PHOTO CAPTION: Umanesimo Artificiale, ABCD1, (in progress)
ABCD1 is a project by Moises H. Valenzuela, Fabio Rovai and Filippo Rosati presented by Umanesimo Artificiale. It consists in a sonification of the DNA mutations of the ABCD1, gene through artificial intelligence processing, where biology meets sound design and art bridges the natural and the artificial.
ABCD1 is a protein-coding gene, its mutations cause X-linked adrenoleukodystrophy: a rare genetic neurological disease that causes the buildup of very-long-chain fatty acids (VLCFAs) in the brain. When VLCFAs accumulate, they destroy the protective myelin sheath around nerve cells, responsible for brain function. One of the artists has been diagnosed with adrenoleukodystrophy over 10 years ago; that’s the reason why this sci-art research project exists. In ABCD1, new expressions of DNA sonification through style transfer AI algorithms are explored, in the form of a stereo sound installation. The result is an alienating and hypnotic left-and-right asynchronous soundtrack. A juxtaposition of sounds: on the left audio the sonification of healthy DNA genes, while on the right audio the sonification of mutated DNA genes.
RomaEuropa Digitalive Prize
OBJECT ORIENTED CHOREOGRAPHY (OOC)
Object Oriented Choreography (OOC) presents itself as a VR performance/performed installation, at the intersection between the actual and the virtual. In the context of OOC, a performer donning a VR headset becomes the gaze and the engine of an ever-changing apparatus: a zone composed of people, objects, digital platforms, electromagnetic signals, spaces and timings, an accidental interlocking of logistics, dynamics, and rules that allow it to exist, to evolve, and eventually to disappear.
In order to stress the digital complexities our lives are embedded in, OOC proposes a performative approach that juxtaposes two kinds of intelligence: that of the physical body and that of the artificial viewpoint. From their intermingling and interaction, fragments of a choreography emerge, following, and directing streams of information and user inputs. OOC is a mutual, collaborative device: it is dependent on the input of an audience and at the same time it grants and enables their flow, resembling a machinic intelligence with the performer as the interface. The ever-changing system of networks, connections, and platforms that inspire OOC, imply that this project wants to be an evolving performative tool. It could be a chatroom where the performer engages in role-play, where she becomes a server that delivers the messages from/to the participants, or a multiplayer musical instrument with the performer remixing sounds sent by users. Through a combined effort of imagining, listening, and direct involvement, the audience is partaking in a process of empathy, resonating with the entire software architecture and its single entities (users, data, algorithms, etc.). How do these entities perceive and inhabit our world? What consistency does their reality have? Guided by the movements of the performer and by her digital gaze, we can learn to relate on a human scale with this strange object-oriented choreography. The project was made in co-production between Triennale Milano and Ariella Vidach Aiep.
Francesco Luzzana (1996) develops custom pieces of software that address digital complexity in a visual and performative way. He likes collaborative projects, in order to face contemporary issues with plural approach. His research aims to stress the borders of a post-digital landscape, inhabiting its contradictions and possibilities. He has a BA in New Media at Brera Academy of Fine Arts, Milan, is a member of un * salta collective, and works as a freelance designer and developer with Ariella Vidach Aiep and Non-Linear studio.
PHOTO CAPTION:Francesco Luzzana, Object Oriented Choreography (wisiwyg), 18th November 2020, performance, Triennale Milano, Milan
RE:DEFINE THE BOUNDARIES
In this second edition, just as in the previous one, the guiding thread of the Prize was to seek a proactive vision of the future within the projects, through a speculative thinking on the medium of Artificial Intelligence, encouraging works that involve the use of the medium or even analyze its social and cultural implications.
Advanced technologies such as AI are able to completely redesign fundamental concepts such as those of time, space, body and identity. Starting from this remodeling, this year’s theme – Re:define the boundaries – brings reflection on the transformations of the concepts of Body and Identity in the era of Artificial Intelligence and the consequent political implications, the new modes of production of knowledge and the changes introduced by robotics and machine learning, the definition of an anthropological approach to AI and visions on the future of our planet.
The winning projects range from biodiversity to ecological awareness, from gender identity to the construction of new relational forms, from the relationship between human beings and technological devices to the exploration of the narrative and creative potential of artificial intelligence.