Pratyush Raman is a practising artist from Bangalore, whose work revolves around education, technology and playfulness of mathematics. He teaches creative coding and new media at Srishti Institute of Art, Design and Technology. His enquiries deal with consciousness, conditioning and fiction in the contemporary paradigm of civilisation. At Serendipity Arts Festival, his installation work, 'Breathe Pong', reconstructed Pong, one of the earliest arcade games, as an interactive reflection of breathing. He uses code, music and painting as his media of expression.
At Lacuna Lab, Berlin, he will experiment with the idea of video sampling in the context of interaction, using physical computing and creative coding tools, culminating in an installation.
In 1998, at George Gilder’s Telecosm conference, John Searle and Ray Kurzweil discussed the future potentiality of Artificial Intelligence (AI). While Ray insisted that technological growth would enable the said merging, Searle made his familiar argument that a merging can not happen, since robots could not be conscious (Why the Future Doesn’t Need Us, Bill Joy). However, a lack of understanding of what intelligence qualifies in a machine implies our ineptitude in making grounded decisions for future technologies. It is likely that both Kurzweil and Searle are correct in their beliefs, and that humanity and AI merge, not because of consciousness being developed in machines, but by incident, without intent.
Today it is often said that AI is everywhere. It influences what we watch (YouTube, Netflix, Instagram), what we read (Goodreads), what we buy (Amazon), how we interact with other technologies (Siri, Alexa), who we befriend (Facebook), how we reach places (Uber, Tesla) and so on. In the current situation, Artificial Intelligence is majorly used a classification problem solver. It processes large amounts of data and classifies new data in groups. For recommendation engines, like in the services mentioned, this classification is “what next?”.
A website like YouTube, suggests content to watch and uses the consumed content to create more suggestions. Data creates more data to heap upon itself. The installation ‘tubed’ replicates this through a customised recommendation AI. It plays with the narrative of users engaging in consumption and becoming a part of the production. In Pratyush’s installation, a recommendation AI is traversing through YouTube content. When a human spectator enters the system, they consume a section of the content generation system. What they consume, and by extension, they themselves become a part of the data that is used to build the AI in the first place. Consumption, which is built on AI suggestions, is the fuel to build the Artificial Intelligence.
'tubed' was presented as part of the exhibition A Vial Piece of Information: Fragments of A Greater Context curated by artist-curator Thomas Heidtmann of Lacuna Lab.
The artist is part of the bangaloREsidency-Expanded program by Goethe-Institut Bangalore / Max Mueller Bhavan in cooperation with Srishti Institute for Art, Design and Technology.