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Real-Time Constraints - Machine learning as an artist tool: disruption and intervention for change in 2020 - Panel discussion

Real-Time Constraints Panel discussion
Machine learning as an artist tool: disruption and intervention for change in 2020 

(recording of the online panel discussion from 6th August 2020)

This panel discussion was moderated  by Luba Elliott and Rebecca Edwards, and featured Gretchen Andrew, Ben Grosser, Jake Elwes, Sofia Crespo, Dark Fractures and Joel Simon in conversation.

Topics included bias in datasets, the origins of AI technologies, privacy and surveillance, and how we might bring about change in the AI industry.

This panel discussion was part of Real-Time Constraints, a group exhibition in the form of a browser extension at arebyte Gallery. More information on the exhibition can be found here.

Real-Time Constraints features works by Gretchen Andrew, Sofia Crespo X Dark Fractures, DISNOVATION, Jake Elwes, Ben Grosser, Libby Heaney, and Joel Simon. Co-curated with Luba Elliott.

Download exhibition plug-in on Firefox | Download exhibition plug-in on Chrome

Real-Time Constraints is a group exhibition featuring works by artists working within the realms of artificial intelligence, algorithms, machine learning, big data, and interventions in web-based platforms. The exhibition brings forward the complexities of the present-tense in light of the emergence of such technologies through works which are generated using real-time information pulled from the internet, or other sources including news items, message exchanges, memes and image banks. The works look critically at the current state of automated and autonomic computing to provide alternative narratives to data-driven and algorithmic approaches, referencing fake-news, gender bias and surveillance.

Taking the form of a browser plug-in, the exhibition reveals itself as a series of pop-ups where the works are disseminated over the duration of a typical working day, interrupting the screen to provide a ‘stopping cue’ from relentless scrolling, email notifications and other computer-centered, interface-driven work.  Real-Time Constraints presents itself as a benevolent invasion – the size, quantity, content and sound of the pop-ups have been decided upon by each artist to feed into the networked performance. The exhibition is experienced through a synchronised global approach where viewers encounter the same pop-ups at the same time no matter where they are, amplifying the exhibition’s disturbance of mundanity across every time zone.

Real-Time Constraints makes its primary argument through a reconfiguration of the usually annoying and uninvited browser pop-up, turning what is typically a tool of the system (and its owners) into a user-centric ‘stopping cue.’ Stopping cues were most prevalent in the 20th Century as a way to signal the end of something, the space in between one activity and the next. Stopping cues imposed a choice for the viewer: do you want to continue watching/reading/listening, or do you want to do something else? They also make available the mental space one needs to digest what they’ve just experienced, enabling useful processing of information, and thus, satisfaction through action.

The way we consume media today is such that there are no stopping cues, there is no design in place that allows us to question our behaviour; social media applications, news sites, streaming services, email and messaging services are a bottomless source of mindless scrolling. Real-Time Constraints  invites critical reflection on the systems and processes we are embedded in all day long and allows viewers to take a break from the animated bombardment of working online, albeit unannounced, to be a welcome distraction.

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