Neural network apophenia

Kurfuturelab became a special guest of the EverArt Weekend Contemporary Art Festival, presenting the multimedia project «Neural Network Apophenia», which took place from June 5 to August 3, 2020. The theme of the festival was “Art at a Distance”. The exhibition was available for two months at the Yandex.Collections site.

The online exhibition «Neural Network Apophenia» presents works by international artists created using neural networks. The term Apophenia was  introduced  in 1958 by the German neuroscientist and psychiatrist Klaus Konrad to define «unmotivated vision of relationships» accompanied by «a characteristic sense of inadequate importance.» The simplest examples of this ability to find such a relationship are to see dinosaurs, ducks, bunnies or castles in the outlines of clouds, or to see a human face in a crater on the surface of another planet.

We considered that the principle of image or sound recognition by artificial neural networks is a kind of machine apophenia: pixels or any other digital patterns are combined into some sense-forming structures. Metaphorically speaking, a person trains artificial neural networks of apophenia.

Various aspects of the influence of neural networks on humanity were considered: what aesthetic experiences this instrument generates, what is its specificity; how neural networks and their ability to learn independently change the ethical boundaries of the relationship between man and machine; what exactly a person teaches a machine and what he learns himself in the process of learning it.

“I am proud of this project, because a group of the most famous artists who work with neural networks responded to our invitation and we were able to show their work in Russia,” says Natalya Kur, head of Kurfuturelab. «Neural network apophenia is a poetic story about the relationship between man and new technologies in art.»

The headliner of the project is the French art group Obvious, which is known to the Russian public for its exhibition in the Hermitage in the pre-pandemic  summer of 2019.

The picture that brought fame to the team  — «Portrait of Edmond Belamy», created by artificial intelligence and sold at Christie’s auction in 2018 for $ 432.5 thousand. Especially for «Neural Network Apophenia», the artists prepared the premiere of the new work «Faces of AI».

Neural network apophenia is not only an Art & Tech project. The exhibition includes several works by Art & Science. One of them is the high-profile premiere of the work «Sensitive» by Anna Dumitriu and Alex May, created by artists in collaboration with scientists.

“I also want to highlight the contributions of Mike Tyke, known for his Imaginary People Portraits project, which generates new faces from thousands of photographs,” says Natalya Kur about the American artist, sculptor, PhD in biophysics and developer at Google.

Submitted works:

Facets of AGI (Habari, Malibu, Matarajio) by Obvious

Susceptible by Anna Dumitru and Alex May

EONS by Mike Tyka

Promenade by Davide Quayola

Neural synthesis by Gene Kogan

Ethical Autonomous Vehicles by Matthiew Cherubini

The content Aware Studies by Egor Kraft