The theme of Artificial Intelligence (AI) was thoroughly explored with two ingenious exhibitions – A-DROYX and Human Version – which were exhibited for the Voilah! French Festival Singapore 2018.
A-DROYX by Mathieu Briand was an exhibit that showcased his assembly of androids in his laboratory studio. It is a testament to the fact that the story behind creation can be more interesting than the final product itself.
To call the space in A-DROYX messy would be an understatement – the circuits, tools, and makeshift limbs strewn all over were an immediate indication to viewers of the nature of the undertaking. The chaotic area mirrored the haphazard process of creation itself.
In A-DROYX, several images of ancient Greek statues served both as inspiration and a guide to Mathieu Briand’s android designs. Coming from an artistic background, Mathieu had always been fascinated by how those Greek statues were accepted widely as beautiful, despite blemishing defects such as their missing limbs. Mathieu Briand designed his creations as an artist would a sculpture – choosing the material and motion of his androids’ legs in order to tell a story rather than fulfill a function.
One of the main aims behind the A-DROYX exhibition was to illustrate how easy the process of creation has become: with a minimal cost and just a team of four members with no prior experience in programming, Mathieu Briand managed to assemble humanoid intelligence.
The other technology-focused exhibit was Human Version by Yves Gellie, which showcased a series of photographs that depicted fictional robots and their prototypes, and the laboratories in which the robotic pieces are being assembled and some instances of daily tasks these robots could be involved in.
The exhibition was made to discuss the relationship between humans and humanoid machines, along with the similarities and differences between the two. Choosing to frame the exhibit as a series of photographs makes it seem as if we are already present in a future, where we are framed alongside AI.
As compared to the robots depicted in A-DROYX, Human Version’s ones appeared to be more amicable. They were involved in productive tasks and the greatest danger they only seemed to possess was displacing menial labourers.
On the other hand, the androids in A-DROYX moved about in a cold and eerie fashion; they served as a haunting reminder that AI could be closer to Frankenstein than Wall-E.
Despite the differences in the curators’ interpretations of humanoids’ physical attributes, what was uniform across both exhibits was that they were beautiful examples of an art and science fusion. As a result of our society’s technological advances, science fiction is no longer the only way for science to creep its way into a work of art. Both of the exhibits portray the scientific and technological aspects in an artistic frame, evoking emotions and narrating stories.
Both exhibitions did not answer the numerous questions that have come up in the AI dialogue. Instead, they have raised even more crucial queries. This, in fact, is the biggest success in any great scientific hypothesis and art piece.
However uncertain we may be about how the relationship between humans and AI would turn out, we can be sure of numerous blends of scientific innovation and artistic creation in the ever-nearing future.
Photos courtesy of Yves Gellie and Voilah! French Festival Singapore 2018.