Conference Announcement: Re-Imagining AI. Scholars, Artists and Designers in Dialogue

Hosted by the Institute of Experimental Design and Media Cultures of the FHNW Academy of Art and Design in collaboration with HeK, House of Electronic Arts Basel, a small group of highly distinguished scholars and research oriented artists/designers will come together in Basel to discuss theoretical reflections on, artistic engagements with, and designerly critiques of infrastructures, technologies, epistemologies and aesthetics of artificial intelligence (AI).

The symposium aims at discussing existing works and identifying novel fields of artistic and designerly engagement with a domain of computing that increasingly changes our understandings of human intelligence, transforms our habitats and suggests new ways of living. So far, aesthetic works on AI typically concentrate on revealing, amplifying and playing with machine vision, pattern detection, deep learning, automated sense-making, and advanced techniques of image manipulation in a way that complements, enriches, and disturbs scholarly thinking about the transformations these technologies entail. Utopias and dystopias of artificial intelligences, smart environments and computationally optimized lives as observed, reflected, interpreted, augmented and worked through by artists and designers multiply our often too limited, too situated and ultimately deadlocked ideas of what artificial intelligence could come to involve.

At the same time, artistic and designerly ways of approaching developments in computing and artificial intelligence tend to privilege certain issues and specific aesthetics at the expense of others. They are often constrained by traditional artistic formats, forms of exhibition and market dynamics on one hand and by the epistemologies of design research, the practices of Gestaltung, and the economy of project-based design on the other. It is our goal, therefore, to not only discuss artistic and designerly approaches to the domain of artificial intelligence, but to analyze shortcomings, identify blind-spots, and create new openings for aesthetic and practice-based critiques of contemporary computational reason and the cultural, political, social and geological transformations they entail.

In pursuit of this goal, the symposium assembles distinguished scholars (media and culture studies, art history, sociology, (feminist) science and technology studies) working theoretically on aspects of artificial intelligence and its artistic or designerly representations alongside designers, artists and artistic researchers’ practice-based explorations of utopian, dystopian and mundane scenarios that AI and its implementation in various domains of daily life provoke. While we are well aware that it is difficult to cover the whole spectrum of what contemporary AI invokes for the near future, we intend to define, through an exchange between scholars and practitioners, the fields and domains where artistic and designerly perspectives and practices can significantly contribute to stimulating discussions about the integration of lifeworlds and automation, planetary-scale computation and emergent social injustices, or the reimagination of the human within the boundaries of computational reason.

Matteo Pasquinelli
Anna Ridler
Maya Indira Ganesh
Antonia Majaca
Ursula Damm
Ramon Amaro
Cristina Cochior
Guillaume Slizewicz
Christine Meinders
Johannes Bruder

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