Forensic Architecture uses machine learning to research human rights violations around the world. One challenge they face is ensuring the fairness of the technology that they use. Since many machine-learning processes are inscrutable—originating in military contexts and operating according to concealed mechanisms—it can be difficult to determine exactly how they reach their outcomes.
Amygdalapit #11 from the series Amygdalapits; Psychepit #4 from the series Psychepits; Neuropit #9 and Neuropit #13 from the series Neuropits
The Zairja Collective’s intricate works overlay open-pit designs, sourced from global mining corporations, with manipulated visualizations and photographs of neuron fields, provided by bioscience institutes that research the mammalian brain. The works merge collage—a medium that combines disparate images—with décollage—a form that involves the physical interlacing of superimposed prints. Through this interweaving, the artists create a series of shifting dynamics between mining pits and neurons.
BOB (Bag of Beliefs) presents a virtual life-form composed of six unique forms of algorithmic consciousness. Although BOB has a simple shape—in part inspired by the whimsical animation of Japanese artist Hayao Miyazaki—it represents a fascinatingly complex instance of artificial intelligence.
Influence BOB’s life by making an offering via the BOB Shrine app. Download the free iOS or Android app by visiting bobs.ai.
Threat Model visually collapses digital and psychological space. The work’s title refers to the practice of threat modeling, a process of mapping a system’s vulnerabilities in order to maximize its security. In oversize vinyl letters that reinforce the sense of anxiety conveyed by the text, the work presents a large-scale representation of a threat map.
The City of Broken Windows uses video, text, and sound to portray a society in which technology functions as a tool of capitalism—serving the privileged and ignoring the historically underprivileged, exacerbating rather than tempering social imbalance. At its core are two videos, Broken Windows and Unbroken Windows. Broken Windows documents the activities of the “artivist” Chris Toepfer. Toepfer’s New Jersey–based organization, the Neighborhood Foundation, replaces broken windows and doors with paintings in underserved communities across the United States.
AIDOL focuses on the dynamic between humans and artificial intelligence. The film reflects on a common fear provoked by new technology—the threat of human obsolescence. It stars Geomancer, or Geo, a former weather satellite that descends to Earth to pursue its dream of becoming the first AI-based artist. To advance its goal, Geo writes a song for Diva, a formerly successful pop star struggling to create new music with mass appeal. Using its advanced computational abilities, Geo scans Diva’s song catalog to create an amalgamated composition that listeners perceive as a hit.
They Took the Faces from the Accused and the Dead . . . (SD18) continues Trevor Paglen’s investigation into the political dimensions of artificial intelligence. Paglen is concerned with the data sets developed to train AI systems and the biases, errors, and ideological positions built into them. He is particularly interested in image sets that represent and interpret human beings, which have been used to train facial-recognition software.
Agnieszka Kurant’s work draws on models of collective intelligence to reconsider the concept of the individualized self. A.A.I. is a series of sculptures made of sand, gold, glitter, and crystals, constructed entirely by termites. By repurposing the colony’s collective intelligence as art production, the artist comments on the erosion of singular authorship, while the structures themselves serve as visual symbols of collective crowdsourced labor.
Amazon worker cage patent drawing as virtual King Island Brown Thornbill cage (US 9,280,157 B2: “System for transporting personnel within an active workspace,” 2016)
Simon Denny conceived the sculpture and collages here partly in response to a 2018 essay regarding the Echo, Amazon’s home-surveillance artificial intelligence system, cleverly marketed as the personal assistant Alexa. In their essay, “Anatomy of an AI System: The Amazon Echo as an Anatomical Map of Human Labour, Data and Planetary Resources,” Kate Crawford and Vladan Joler trace the extractive processes involved in the Echo’s production. They expose how its sleek design belies a trail of environmental disruption in its wake.
Forensic Architecture is an independent research agency that uses spatial methods to investigate civil and human rights violations. The group relies on open-source, citizen-gathered evidence, such as civilian camera footage, audio recordings, and eyewitness testimony. They analyze this information through an architectural lens, using digital and physical models, 3-D animations, virtual reality environments, and cartographic platforms.