TECHnique Meetup – Networking for Artists that use Technology

Technology Networking Event Art Artists

First networking event for artists hosted by Create Hub


Create Hub’s first networking event for artists, called TECHnique Meetup, was hosted at IBM Southbank in London.

 

There are an increasing number of artist that use, explore or respond to technology in their work. Create Hub decided to bring these people together at their first ever networking event for artists, TECHnique Meetup.

TECHnique Meetup was a free networking event for artists using technology. Hosted at IBM’s Soutbank office, the event brought together some of London’s best artists, designers and creative technologists. To kick off the event a number of talks and presentations explored the theme of Artificial Intelligence (AI). Jeremy Waite (IBM Watson) gave a talk about AI and Creativity, a panel featuring Richard AdamsCecilie Waagner FalkenstrømTracey Gilbert and Joe McAlister discussed artists’ relationship with AI and Cecilie Waagner Falkenstrøm also gave a demonstration of her Lumen Award winning AI art – FRANK.

Artists and Artificial Intelligence

Samuel Fry introduced the event, explaining that ‘This event is partly about Artificial Intelligence, but it is mainly about you all meeting and getting to know each other.’ During the event, a number of artists and technologists spoke about their work and networked over drinks.

Photographs are available of the event online; however, for those who could not attend, we thought we would summarise each of the initial talks here…

 

TECHnique art technology ai artificial intelligence

Jeremy Waite, AI and Creativity

Jeremy Waite is an Evangelist at IBM, working in Watson Marketing. He gave the first talk at the event, where he told stories about how creatives, artists and some of the world’s most successful companies are using cognitive technologies. Using IBM Watson as an example, Jeremy explained how music producer Alex da Kid worked with artificial intelligence to create a pop song called ‘Not Easy’.

Creating a pop song with Artificial Intelligence

Alex da Kid is a British music producer that gained recognition for producing hit singles for artists such as Dr. Dre (‘I Need a Doctor’), Nicki Minaj (‘Massive Attack’), B.o.B (‘Airplanes’ featuring Hayley Williams), Eminem (‘Love the Way You Lie’ featuring Rihanna) and Imagine Dragons (‘Radioactive’).

Jeremy Waite explained that IBM and Alex da Kid asked themselves ‘What if an AI could write a pop song?’ To test this, Waite continued, ‘we took 25 years of the past top 100 billboard songs and fed them into IBM Watson. We fed all the sales into Watson, all the songs (so that we could analyse the tone), all the lyrics (which using natural language processing we could understand what they said) and we used this to understand the sentiment behind the songs. Then what we did, as if that wasn’t enough, was we looked at Alex da Kid’s audience on social media, we looked historically at every news article from the last 5 years and what his audiences felt about those articles. Then we used all of that and put it into a framework that Alex could use to write a song.’

You can watch a YouTube playlist about Alex da Kid plus other examples of how IBM Watson has worked with creative people to produce music, films, fashion, paintings, sculptures and interactive art exhibitions.

 

artificial intelligence ai art artists

Artificial Intelligence and Artists Process

The TECHnique Meetup event then included a panel, who discussed the question: “How will artificial intelligence change the creative process of artists?”. Richard Adams, one of the presenters of the TECHnique podcast, hosted the panel which included AI artist Cecilie Waagner Falkenstrøm, computational artist Joe McAlister and IBM Digital and Cognitive Leader Tracey Gilbert.

Each of the panel talked about how they work with artificial intelligence. Cecilie explained how she created an ARTifical intelligent machine called FRANK, Joe explained how he uses metadata to and AI to create personal experiences with art and Tracey explained how she works with intelligent systems to help companies have a better relationship with their customers.

AI as an assistant and as a creator

They talked about how it’s important to get the right balance between allowing AI to create art and using it as a tool to help. Joe McAlister explained how, for instance, his artwork A.M.I ‘does not just work in English, but it works in many other languages, which is amazing as I can’t speak any other languages but it still works.’ Cecilie Waagner Falkenstrøm explained how she is fascinated by this process of ‘using technology that creates something that can tell me and us what it means to be human.’ She continued to explains how through using technology ‘We might find out new ways of looking at ourselves.’

Tracey Gilbert explains how, ‘most of the organisations that I work with use intelligent systems, not only to take away costs, but to really create human experiences.’ Instead, in business we are looking to create ‘the very best experience.’

 

Artist AI Artificial Intelligence

Cecilie Waagner Falkenstrøm demonstrates FRANK

The final presentation, before the actual networking, was a demonstration of the 2017 Lumen Prize winning art – FRANK.

FRANK was created by Cecilie Waagner Falkenstrøm as an ‘ARTificial’ intelligence. Unlike most AI machines, FRANK is a fictional character that does not simply answer questions but acts as a contemporary oracle that gives personal guidance regarding your existential dilemmas. Cecilie demonstrated the work by asking him questions about her personal worries, anxieties, fears, hopes and dreams. She asked him, ‘do you ever feel lonely?’, ‘will money make me happy?’ and ‘will I ever love?’. FRANK responded with his own thoughts, wisdoms and ideas.

Also in the room was another fantastic piece of art by Rachel Ara. It was actually a prototype of a much larger piece of art called ‘This Much I’m Worth’ which displays its value (in pounds) that is calculated based on how much it is shared on social media, pricing sites and many other resources including the financial markets. The price is also based on the gender, race and sexuality of the artist to explore the algorithmic bias of machines.

Both artworks were great ways to bridge the gap between artists and technology, which helped make for a great event. Thank you too, to IBM for supporting this event.

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