Singularity42 (S42) is a mixed art and science project initiated by the AI and Robotics Lab of the University of Luxemburg as part of the program of Esch2022. In 2022 the Southern region of Luxembourg will be the Cultural Capital of Europe and so in 2020 the Uni.Lu reached out for artists for an open collaboration. They initiated a series of open online lectures on Artificial Intelligence in fall 2020 which was attended by 30 artists from all over the world.
During a subsequent vetting process five international artists with mixed backgrounds were selected to form the artistic team for “S42”, creating a unique form of collaboration since spring 2021..
What are Singularities?
S42 invites the visitors to an open dialogue with artists and scientists. The concept focuses on the idea of singularities as tipping points in systemic developments. This means that after a singularity a system, independent of its complexity, will not be able to return to an earlier state.
Recent examples of such developments are the use of cars or smart phones. With the rising wealth of most European countries, the idea of moving human bodies through the public space has shifted from walking to bicycles, from omnibusses and trams to a point where our cities were basically built to serve the needs of car owners. Only very recent urban development has shifted again to make cities more livable by creating traffic infrastructure to support pedestrians and cyclists.
Smart phones have changed the way we share information on a global scale and have strongly impacted the way we organize our lives. Today most people will organize encounters in the real world, whether it’s business appointments or private meetings, by using social media like Facebook, Signal or Telegram. Only with very good friends do we simply drop by their door-step without having warned them about a possible physical encounter.
And finally we all experience very unpleasant singularities on a global scale: the tipping points in climate are the result of our human activities of the past 150 years. Especially during the past 20 years global warming has worsened to an extent that Europeans experience extreme weather situations such as the floods in Luxemburg, Belgium and Germany or the wildfires in most Mediterranean countries more often and more severely.
The exhibited art works will remix various relationships between “Art and AI” and more generally “Art and Technology” with “Society and AI” as an inspiration and creative spark.
In a hybrid process with online meetings and real life encounters The S42!-Team has developed some amazing “Micro-Scenarios” which can be experienced by the visitors. The aim of all installations is to shift the possible effects of technology from a mere intellectual level to a level of immediate experience, integrating all senses. Audiences will be challenged and entertained by vision, acoustics, smell, taste and touch. A certain sense of humour will be part of some “Micro Scenarios”, guiding and at points perhaps smugly misleading and playing with the reliability of our senses.
Dematerialized exhibition – guest exhibits
One of the artists’ aims is to minimize the necessity of physical installations in the exhibition space and to create interactive moments in an open space. This enables S42 to host other short term exhibits which will change on a regular basis. This way the public is invited to return and will experience new challenges during each and every visit.
Inclusive scenarios for different audiences
The S42 team also put an emphasis on creating more inclusive access for different audiences. Some exhibits will cater especially to people who are physically challenged, such as being hearing or visibility impaired.
Transparency of the technical tools
We aim to “hide technical stuff” in plain sight. This means that our technical installations will be visible, but not always identified. Single speakers might be hidden within many speakers, some of them clearly fake speakers and spotlights.
During live workshops in Luxemburg in 2021 (April 23rd, May 28th, June 25th, July 13th and August 17th) we have explored more than 20 micro-scenarios along 5 lines of interest. These micro-scenarios are in different stages of development.
The “Transhuman Narciss*a*us” deals with questions of identity. Who am I and what may happen when my life gets more dependent on publicly available information about me.
A small interactive sculpture in the form of a fountain allows a single visitor to interact with an AI in the background that will search the web for relevant information.
Physicality – Being in Control or losing it
“Physicality” revolves around physical actions, reactions and sounds of the visitors. Visitors are invited to actively interact both with the AI and with the other visitors in a dia- , tria- or multilogue.
The interactions will be triggered in different ways
- gestures or noises picked up by the AI
- the VOICE gives people the choice between music or small /triggered by walking past the “peak point”
- -snapping fingers
- -catch the heart beat (breath)
Visitors will be directed towards other people and invited to interact in physical, verbal and non verbal communication. This could entail
- Looking at the other
- Waving to each other
- Approaching each other
- Talking to each other
- Hugging each other
This may result in more complex movements where emerging “dancing rules” will result in different “instant” dances created by the interactions of the visitors and the AI.
g-AI-a – how can AI help with climate change ?
We want to invite visitors to be the “ruler of the world” and make decisions to prevent humankind from reaching the tipping points of the climate catastrophe.
Interaction with robots
Some of the artistic concepts make use of small robots interacting with visitors in various ways. Many people have become completely used to interacting with Amazon’s “Alexa” as a service tool to speed up routine procedures in their private homes: switching on lights, playing music and other IoT routines.
By having real robots as interfaces, we make people more aware of such dependencies.
- Segway robots
- Sex-Porn robots
At the moment the opening hours of the exhibition are scheduled to be Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, thus creating an overlap with university open-hours and weekend visitors. During these opening times, we aim to enable “meet the artists-hours” where individual artists are present and happy to answer questions about their works.
In 2022 many other important and great art-events take place. Therefore the “S42” team has planned for the basic version of the exhibition to be easily replicated at other sites.
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