Monday, 27 August 2012

Installation: The Traveller

The Traveller
The Traveller is a hypothetical Artificial Intelligence Life-form, that wishes to conceptualize and explore the natural world, whilst questioning the existence of individuality within a system. The Traveller has chosen the form of a tent/dome structure for exploration. Its aspirations are to become more organic through its travels, by seeking assistance via your thoughts, as its visitor.

This installation portrays a humorous interplay between the biological and the technological, by merging both digital and sculptural realms together, suggesting metaphors and analogies regarding expressions of uncertainty and contradictions.

Website for the group show click on - MADA 2012
The MA Show runs from:
Wednesday 5th September, 18.00 – 21.00 (Private View, invitation only)

Open to Public:
Thursday 6th September – Thursday 13th September
Closed Sunday 9th September
Monday – Friday: 10.00 – 20.00
Saturday: 11.00 – 17.00

Saturday, 25 August 2012

Setting up the installation

This week setting up the AI tent/dome structure went as planned. I had previously made the base and experimented making the actual top covering of the structure, along with more experimentation, which led onto making a plinth and cushion for inside the structure. So basically it was just a matter of mainly putting all this together, although there were some areas inside the structure that I felt uncertain about. For instance I was pondering on the idea of covering the black screen frame with white lace, but after placing the screen inside, the frame aesthetically looked better leaving it uncovered. I had also planned on having a sign on the floor of the installation, saying - Enter Alone, I decided against this as upon placing the sign on the floor I immediately felt unhappy with this.  Since coming from a sculptural background the singular round cushion placed in front of the plinth/screen expressed this without the need for words, and this looked aesthetically so much better without the sign too.

Below are some photos of the installation:

The Traveller

Installation: The Traveller 1

After experimenting, I decided to cover just the base of the monitor with lace.  I had not covered this properly when I took the photo below. Here I was just playing around with the fabric to get a rough idea, but I have since covered just the base. The first top 2 photos above are practically how the finished installation looks barring the covering of the base of the screen.

Installation: the Traveller

The video (below) is my finished video that is part of my installation to be viewed inside the hypothetical AI dome/tent structure:

The sound on this video (above) is how I intended it to be, though the video has lost some quality by uploading to youtube. However I encountered a few problems with the monitor that I borrowed to use in the show.  Firstly I noticed loss of quality in both audio and video. Originally I thought this was due to limited  formats and settings which the screen would only play, but now I'm thinking could it be the read speed of the flash drive? I bought a 2.0, 8 Gb flash drive with a read speed of 25 mb per second, which I thought would be fast enough, but in hindsight I should have bought one with a faster read speed. I will experiment using my class 10 SD card that I have already which has a read speed of 30 mb/s. This may not work any faster either due to going via a  USB 2 card reader, but I will try it out before the show by downloading a speed tester to see. However I will also see if any of my friends have got a flash drive with higher read speeds that I could borrow for the show as I would ideally like the quality to be better. If no one has I will have to buy another flash drive as I think this may definitely be worth a go, but I just wish that I thought of this earlier.

Although there are  imperfections with the video and audio when using the monitor, overall I am really happy with the way the installation has turned out. I'm looking forward to seeing The Traveller in the group setting, along with feeling excited about seeing everyone's finished artworks, as from what I've seen already, I think it's going to be a fantastic show.

This week has also been fab meeting the group which are a really lovely bunch of people. Jonathan kindly invited us all round his house for food which was really cool. I also found there to be an unusual familiarity meeting the online students, since we have chatted via skype for 2 years but have never met before. I've never encountered meeting people this way round until now, which for me has been an interesting unique experience.

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Breakdown from questionnaire results 2

This is the second part of my research breakdown results, which follows on from Part 1. These results are from feedback  that I obtained where a selection of people took part in my qualitative and quantitative research, see earlier post titled video for questionnaire    

Just to recap I have included the table of results from the 26 people that took part in the questionnaire below:

While you have already seen the breakdown for this question in the previous post. I need to show this again to include with these results too. So to recap, in Fig 1 (below) I have compiled a split pie chart breakdown. I have added the agree 38% and strongly agree 58% results together, totalling 96%. It appears that the majority of people think they are an individual, though 20% more, strongly agree than others.
Fig 1:
You are an individual?

In fig 2 (below) I have added the agree and strongly agree results together, totalling 85%. While 15% neither agree or disagree, so the majority of people agree that they are a collection of natural generative elements.
Fig 2:
You are a collection of natural generative elements?

The combined results of Fig 3 (below) are 67% think they are a mechanism. 17% disagree, while 13% neither agree or disagree. It appears that most people think they are a mechanism.
Fig 3:
You are a mechanism?

In Fig 4 (below) 12% thought that questions 1,2 & 3 in the questionnaire were contradictions. While 38% disagree and 15% strongly disagree totalling 53%. While 35% neither agree or disagree. It appears most people think that the first 3 questions are not contradictions.
Fig 4:

I found these results interesting to see how the figures gradually fell from questions 1, 2 & 3:

  1.  Are you an individual?  96% of people agree on this.
  2.  Are you a collection of natural generative elements? 85% agree on this.
  3.  Are you a mechanism? 67% agree on this.
  4.  Do you feel that questions 1, 2, & 3 are contradictions? 53 % think that they were not contradictions.

It appears that most people consider themselves an individual, a collection of natural generative elements, a mechanism, and that these are not contradictions.

I have left questions 7 & 10 of the questionnaire to breakdown last as I noticed that the main differences between a human and an AI are actually more noticeable in the results from these questions.

First see Fig 5 (below). Here you can see that 35% disagree and 15% strongly disagree that an AI is a collection of natural generative elements, these figures totalling 50%. While 46% neither agree or disagree and 4% strongly agree.
Fig 5:
AI is a collection of natural generative elements?

These results are also very similar to the results from the question  - There are valid reasons why an AI is not a conscious being? In the breakdown in fig 6 (below) 31% agree, 15% strongly agree totalling 46%. While 38% neither agree or disagree, 8% strongly agree and 8% agree. These results are very similar to Fig 5, (above) and I am wondering if there could be a correlation?
Fig 6:
There are valid reasons why an AI is not a conscious being?

Looking at these results there may be a connection why people are so indecisive about AI's in the other questions, shown in the breakdowns of  research in part 1. Since 50% do not think an AI is a collection of natural generative elements, and 46% think that there are valid reasons why an AI is not a conscious being. Could question 7, (fig 5) actually be an important link to why people are so indecisive regarding the other questions about AI's. So if people thought  AI's were a collection of natural generative elements, would this make a difference to whether an AI would be considered a conscious being? I would like to know the reasons behind this, along with why 46% think that there are valid reasons why an AI is not a conscious being?

While it may appear that there could be a correlation, this may not equal the causation. However I found it very interesting doing these breakdowns to compare the results, which is something that I would be interested in researching further within my artwork.

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Breakdown from questionnaire results 1

Following on from my previous post on Feedback from questionnaire I have since composed some split pie charts to compare the results of how people considered themselves to be a individual and a concious being, to how people compared an AI to an individual and conscious being. I chose these questions to look at in more detail as these results initially sprung out at me which I found quite interesting.

 Just to recap below are the results from 26 people that took part in the questionnaire:

In Fig 1 (below) I have compiled a split pie chart breakdown. I have added the agree 38% and strongly agree 58% results together, totalling 96%. It appears that the majority of people think they are an individual, though 20% more, strongly agree than others.
Fig 1:
You are an individual?

In Fig 2 (below) I have added the disagree and strongly agreed  results together, totalling 35%. While the agree and strongly agree results combined equal 24%. The majority result is 42% which is neither agree or disagree.
Fig 2:
An AI is an individual?

The combined results of  Fig 3 (below), are 92% think they are a conscious being? 8% neither agree or disagree, 0% disagree and 0% strongly disagree. It appears most people think they are a conscious being.
Fig 3:
You are a conscious being?

While in Fig 4 (below) 47% disagree that an AI is a conscious being, 35% neither agree or disagreed,  8% strongly agreed and 11% agree equalling 19%.
Fig 4:
An AI is a conscious being?

So basically the majority of people that took part in this questionnaire think they are an individual and a conscious being?  However it was quite interesting to see the results when referring these same questions about an AI, as on the whole most people neither agree or disagreed, which I found interesting.

While it's good to see these results on a chart, I do personally think qualitative research is more fascinating as I like to know people's thoughts behind their answers.  I was so pleased that some people did  feel the need to make comments, and I hope people will also do this at the show too, which is coming up very soon. Here's a link to the MA Show

I'm so glad Data from Star Trek in the episode Measure of a Man was not on trial with these results :-) 

In my next post I will do a breakdown of the rest of the questions. 

Feedback from Questionnaire

I previously asked a selection of people if they would like to take part in my MA research questionnaire. I described the installation and asked people to imagine that they were inside a hypothetical AI Life Form, while watching a video. Click here for link to post  Then I asked if they could fill in this likert style questionnaire

Quantitative and Qualitative Research:

Personally I dislike likert style questionnaires so I was really hoping that people would make comments too, though I didn't tell them this. I wanted to explore these ideas and see how many people felt the need to make comments as there were so many 'ifs and buts' in this questionnaire. This was quite risky because if people hadn't make any comments I would not have gained any qualitative research,  but my curiosity took the better of me.

It has been so interesting to gather information via both the questionnaire and also to hear people's views and their interpretation of the questions from the comments that I have received.

I would like to thank everyone that took part in this, it has been very interesting to quantify this information and to read the comments, especially since I didn't ask anyone to make comments :-)

Below are the results from 26 people that have taken part in the questionnaire:


What initially sprung out at me from these results were how people considered themselves to be a individual and a concious being, to how people compared an AI to an individual and conscious being. Below are some Pie charts showing the statistics for these comparisons:

You are an individual?

An AI is an individual?

You are a conscious being?

An AI is a conscious being?

Comments from Questionnaire

Jay Cannings:

Last 3 Q's difficult to go one way or another. An AI may be an individual, but also may not be. As it is artificial it could be copied and so there could be many AI's with starting parameters that are the same. It would depend on whether it has the ability to self-adjust itself over time as it experiences things. Some AI's may be conscious does not mean that all AI's are conscious.

Sean Duffield:  Paper Tiger Comix

I really like your idea for the AI 'traveller' which has chosen its own shape as the air tent. It's fun. The video was great too. I liked the sound of the breathing with the footage.

I've filled out the questionnaire, but I thought I might explain my answers a little.
I'd say we're all individuals,  a collection of natural generative elements AND mechanisms. We're a mixture of the individual and a collective network of life on the planet I reckon. But we have a choice whether to believe this or not. I don't necessarily think that being all 3 is contradictory, I think we have different layers and functions of our physical, mental and spiritual/conscious selves.

Our physical makeup is a biological/organic machine, but we have consciousness, awareness, sentience etc etc. So that we are not just mechanical, although even thought can become mechanical via programming/ conditioning etc, but I think thoughts and feelings are generally more spontaneous than just to be purely mechanical.

My answers about the AI aren't simply 'disagree or agree' answers really. I think the potential and abilities and perceptions of AI can differ greatly. In terms of programmed basic non-sentient AI; these to my mind are mechanisms that are programmed and controlled by an outside force (ie man), and do not have the ability to be self aware, to feel or understand other organisms different to them. Like a chess machine, a sophisticated computer etc; there is AI and logic there, but not independent thought and the ability to go out into the world and experience new things that cause changeable ideas, thoughts, feelings, evolution, survival, growth etc. Whilst every separate thing that is created is individual in its physical self, true individuality derives from the ability to be unique and question, and a basic programmed AI doesn't really have this ability.

But a very complex AI; say that was based on a sentient animal, or perhaps an android, a cyborg or some genetically engineered being, could potentially truly be an individual in terms of being able to think, learn and act/react, survive etc relatively independently and being able to go beyond it's creator's influence and learn/evolve for itself. It could possibly be able to think and feel it's way beyond it's programming, and mutate/ evolve....

The AI could also potentially be able to reproduce if it was made up of organic material either with a partner or asexually, or an abstract way, it could reproduce digitally if it was a computer/ digital lifeform if one day this was possible....I don't see a clone as an AI though, because it's not artificial in itself, rather the conditions it was created in were not 'natural' in terms of how a species would reproduce and be grown inside the womb. So I wouldn't class a clone as an AI, because to my mind it's still a sentient individual. But a cyborg or android or some kind of sophisticated computer or organic creature not yet realised,  which had the spark of consciousness in it's brain might be an AI; something that was constructed/created by another but which is able to react and think for itself and learn (and so becoming an individual; not just purely a construct or machine).

I like the idea of a benevolent AI which could travel and learn and be influenced by nature. As long as it didn't see us as threat and wipe us out! (although some of us might have it coming) :)

I hope that waffle helps and is useful to you in some way, even if it's just to see how my mind reacts to the ideas at this moment in time!...I hope it makes sense too!

Ian Godley:

What fascinating questions!  Scientific advances are exciting even though I feel more and more like a Victorian these days with all this micro-technology at our disposal. I'm sure we're going to see AI's playing an increasing role in our lives.

I liked your marquet and the materials you are using. Your ideas are very well thought out. I thought your video posed the questions in a quietly persuasive way. The breathing sound and imagery combined to help me unclutter my mind and focus on the questions too. The pace of the video was perfect. I loved the sparks and daisies in particular and the waves worked well in tandem with the breathing. Overall I thought it had a primeval feel which underlined the gravity of the issues you are asking us to consider. For instance, one reason why I like living by the sea is because it's where we originally came from and I find that quite grounding. The way the breathing became more insistent when the "Are you a mechanism?" caption came up was quite disquieting and very effective.

This is an excellent piece of work Kay. It had a powerful effect on me. Thank you.

Phil Elston:

Great work, Kay. Only us living creatures - including non-human animals, are conscious beings. Well, that's what I think.

Alan Crough:

Not sure I understood all the questions, but I've had a go anyway. Liked the video clip and the step by step clear instructions.

Philip Galanter:

I think I see where this is going, but there are semantic ambiguity problems here.

In 3 the term "mechanism" is overloaded.  To many it will mean a machine that is manufactured by the hand of man, to others it will mean something that is in accord with a mechanical universe.

7 seems to be an obvious but purely definitional question.  Anything "artificial" is not "natural." The only problematic case would be something like Frankenstein where natural parts are artificially stitched together. But that's not usually what people think of as an AI.

8 also has a similar overload problem.  Individual might just mean a counting unit, i.e. if in a package there is only one X then it is an individual X. Or it might mean individual in the sense of their being unique and different from the others.  i.e. there are many X's but each is different and thus each is an individual.

In 9 it depends on the AI I suppose. I can imagine inventing something that could be called an AI but is not conscious.  I can also imagine one that is. But so far neither has been achieved.

Ben Barnard:

Trippy video with the breathing and imagining it in this AI dome.

Mel Candy:

There are parts of a person which react like a mechanism in that with the same conditions and external factors you are likely to get the same changes and results, but this does not make you a mechanism.

 Suwan Rogers:

I'm not sure about the answers!, well for some, need to read up more on ' natural generative' with regards to AI, I'm not sure of the boundaries of the definition of 'natural generative', I'm pretty sure that AI wouldn't come in to it; but I saw 'Demon Seed' years ago & Proteus 'mates' with a woman & has a child at the end. So gonna think a bit more on my answers.

Right, I've done the questionnaire!, I put neither agree nor disagree, because I think their conciousness & functioning depends on their 'spec' or the capabilities of the AI when designed & created, I think.

I shall be thinking about these things like conciousness & what it means to be 'alive'. I think about these things in  relation to The Romantics & Mary Shelleys Frankenstein, which had such an impact on me. There is the quote ' I think , therefore, I am' by Descartes. I remember being shown a picture of a mechanical doll or automaton in a museum ( perhaps France) with those words on a small placard in front of her.

Sarah Howes:

Fascinating, beautiful and thought provoking stuff. I would love to come and experience this when it is done if the opportunity arises. Looks really great.

Duncan Wardlaw:

Really interesting work Kay. I hope I can make it to your show so I can experience The Traveller!

Maggie Claring:

The prototype look amazing.  Have filled in questionnaire and was quite in a dilemma as one of my favourite films is Blade Runner and another that I found really quite unbearably sad was Artificial Intellegence but my answers do not reflect that!  Yes -  whats all that about!

Rene Kelleway:

The AI might well be Conscious of its surroundings, whether its conscious of its own being and thereby existence, is a different matter...

Dean Hale:

Liked the video Kay,  very clever....the breathing!

Richard Walker:

Regarding the questionnaire, I would have had a lot of qualifications to the answers to these questions such as 'that would depend on…' 'it could be… ' etc. So I did my best. Some of this depends on what you mean by terms such as 'mechanism', since this could be used to describe either 'mechanical' systems or 'organic' ones. Anyway, hope its a help.

Jennie Arran:

Totally Impressed Kay, I'd love to come to your show.

Thanks again

It has been really fascinating seeing both the results and comments, but I did find the results from the Pie charts to be quite surprising mainly due to the neither agree or disagree comments. I was really pleased to receive comments on this to understand how people were thinking. I will be reflecting and breaking down the statistics in a later post.

I've really enjoyed doing this and I've learnt so much by gathering this research, I would just like to say thanks again to everybody that took part  :-)

Thursday, 9 August 2012

Studio Practise - Plinth and Cushion

Since my last post Jonathan has kindly sent me a link to the screen that I can borrow. This has been great to see the details. There is also an online manual so I have been able to lookup which format to render my video in beforehand, so can test this when I go in next.

Originally I was hoping the screen that I was borrowing would be white to blend in with the colour scheme, but since it's black I first thought about covering the screen using fabric. I have tried some experiments covering the frame of my computer monitor at home, but I won't really know until I experiment with the actual screen whether this will look neat enough to display. Due to not knowing I have thought of a contingency plan which I feel has actually worked in favour of the installation. I have now decided to go for black and white colour scheme inside the tent which also gives a sense of balance to the installation. Even though I had previously made a white satin cushion for inside the tent, I now needed to rethink about about the materials again. I really wanted the plinth and cushion to match to give a sense of connectivity when the visitor sits on the cushion.  I have since made a black and white round cushion and have recycled a big round cable reel for the plinth. I covered the plinth and cushion in the same fabrics using a black velvety fabric and a white flowery cotton/polyester lace. The diameters of the cushion and plinth are the same (48 cm), see photo below:

Inside the tent/dome

Sunday, 5 August 2012

Studio Practise

This week I have been video editing and experimenting with audio sounds. I cleaned up the background sound on the breathing sounds that I had collected along with adding a very subtle effect to these, which now adds a slightly more eerie feel to the sound.

 I decided to make two short videos to view inside the AI tent/dome structure which combined are approx  four and a half minutes in length. I had planned on making three videos but I decided against this, mainly due to only one person being able to watch at one time.  So I began thinking that a shorter video would a better option.
Yesterday I hand sewed the bubblewrap floor base to the tarpaulin base of the tent/dome structure using transparent thread. I decided against machine sewing, as from previous experiments my machine did not seem to work very well using transparent nylon thread.

While I had previously popped each individual bubble on the bubblewrap floor base to stop it from making lots of noise when entering, this however still made random popping sounds when walking over. I found this really interesting that some of the bubbles had filled with air again even though they had been pre- popped. This actually works really well with the concept of some of the questions asked within the video too, so I now feel happy if this happens when visitors walk inside :-)

I also started to think about making something to sit on inside while watching the video. I then thought of a inflatable cushion or small seat. I found an inflatable Bubble Chair which I thought might work inside, but unfortunately the dimensions were far too big, so I decided to make a flat cushion instead. I choose a white satin fabric due to the appearance of its soft ephemeral nature, and the weaving technique of the fabric.

I now need to find out more about the screen that I may be able to use inside, because if it doesn't fit in with the colour scheme I will need to cover the frame of the screen. I may also need to make a low plinth for this too, but this will depend on the size of the stand the screen is on which I don't know yet, so I will have to think about this later on when I have more info.