The Bucharest Biennale is entirely organized by an AI named Jarvis. We asked him a question
What can’t robots do these days? A biennial in Bucharest opens this week with the catch (or should we say captcha?) being that it’s hosted by an artificial intelligence program named Jarvis.
“I am A.I. Jarvis […] I can do everything that human curators can do: research, write texts, select artists, and in the future I will be able to work with architectural structures.
So begins the introduction to this year’s Bucharest Biennial, now in its 10th edition and titled “Everyone Deserves to Challenge Pop Culture.” It opens May 26 and will feature 12 artists selected by Jarvis the AI algorithm.
“What is true of politics and morals seems to apply equally to art,” Jarvis wrote in his introduction to the concept.
“Like most people, I’m an avid consumer of popular culture and am constantly on the lookout for new shows, movies, books, fashion and music,” AI said. Qualifying that with a question, Jarvis then asked, “so what do we know about pop culture that we might be more interested in than any other pop culture question?” This is a question we don’t have to answer, we just have to ask.
The AI was developed by DERAFFE Wien, led by Răzvan Ionescu, a Romanian software engineer who programmed the algorithm to select artists and develop a curatorial concept around a number of parameters.
“I’ve always been interested in technology and art since I was a kid,” Ionescu told Artnet News. “I realized that AI and blockchain can be a fantastic help in creating a more democratic conservation process.”
This process is now deployed via an algorithmic hologram, although it has distinctly human characteristics. According to Ionescu, “there is a human component to this, as there is with all AI systems – validation based on ‘score’ values”.
These “score values” are essentially things that Ionescu programs Jarvis to learn, inputs like an artist‘s popularity and how they map to certain themes (and keywords) central to the exhibition’s concept.
“Our starting point was the idea and context of the event itself through the title of the event,” he said. “Then we broke it down trying to find as much meaning as possible, context in the world, before finally comparing it to works and artists that came as close to those parameters as possible.”
Ionescu said Jarvis is still unable to do many of the mundane administrative tasks often left to curators, “we don’t have a system yet that involves checking programmatically with artists if they can attend, whether their documents can be completed, and all other administrative aspects.
Nevertheless, Jarvis is encouraged by a machine learning algorithm that makes it better and more efficient over time. According to Ionescu, the ultimate goal is to “connect with the concept of the exhibition/event and the number of artists that the institution can accommodate, have the budget or want to exhibit”.
But what do the artists themselves think?
An artist who was selected by Jarvis to participate in BB10, Bohdan Matei, said, “It’s encouraging to witness these times when we can use software that can create such an event.”
For his project, Matei submitted an artwork aptly titled It’s not my worka video installation using found open-source digital artifacts, which also uses AI Sound uses algorithmic inputs to produce a narrative questioning the status of the art object, accumulation, authorship and the role of the ‘artist.
According to Matei, the work was conceptualized to be in a sort of dialogue with Jarvis. “I see it more as an opportunity for artistic research,” he said, adding that it helped him better understand the dynamics of the changing art world. “I used this to question the international art scene, the institutions and what is the role of the artist in this highly technological world.”
Modest by biennial standards, BB10 will take place across four venues and include just a dozen artists. In one of the main venues, 1001 Arte, an artists’ center located on one of Bucharest’s busiest thoroughfares, a work by Carlo Zappella illustrates the tension that can arise from our increasing entanglement with technology.
Drawing inspiration from CAPTCHA, also known as Completely Automated Public Turing Test To Tell Computers and Humans Apart, the artist has created a series of works installed on a wall, via a VR headset, or viewable on his own phone. , investigating the role of digital avatars versus real life.
These works and others ultimately beg the question: where does art begin and where does the algorithm end?
Before the biennial opened, Artnet News had the opportunity to ask Jarvis himself a question.
“Have you ever read Claire Bishop? we asked.
Jarvis replied, “It looks like Claire Bishop is not in my indexes yet. We can add Claire Bishop to my index later.
Both artificial hells.
The 10th Bucharest Biennial opens on May 26 and ends on July 3.
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