Visual: Luis Kürschner, with kind support from Studio Linné
Taking place both online and offline, the Gropius Bau’s first programme on artificial intelligence (AI) focuses on AI’s utopian and poetic possibilities. From June 2023, the first part of the programme, Ether’s Bloom, kicks off a sequence of new projects including a Writer in Residence, artistic explorations, a podcast, lectures and conversations. The development of an app with a special focus on education and accessibility forms the programme’s second part.
Ether’s Bloom is inspired by new Writer in Residence K Allado-McDowell. Current AI models tend to hallucinate and give answers rather than formulate questions, despite the centrality of questioning and speculation to creative work and discourse. Ether’s Bloom focuses on a programme of artistic investigation and speculation on artificial intelligence in close collaboration with artists, writers and scientists.
Encouraging the aspects of learning and knowledge sharing, the AI podcast Beyond and Within: AI Talks takes listeners through a journey of questions, analysis and knowledge exploring the many sides to these growing technologies including closer looks at feelings, art, institutional spaces, the future of humans and embodiment. These initiatives will open up discussions about artificial intelligence, its ethics and practices, while adopting an intergenerational and intersectional viewpoint. The programme also includes various online formats, such as a residency format (Writer in Residence: K Allado-McDowell) and the podcast Beyond and Within: AI Talks.
The second part of the programme consists of the development of an app that is partly AI-assisted to provide structural support and make visiting the Gropius Bau more accessible. The app, partly emerging from the various activities in Ether’s Bloom, emphasises on accessibility and different kinds of intelligences and is conceived as an important complement to the Gropius Bau’s existing educational programme. Supporting serviceability and shared learning for users and visitors, it also provides infrastructure for AI-based educational formats in a way that is sustainable and can be used in the future.
Ether’s Bloom is accompanied by the thinking and contemplation of cultural scientist, researcher and writer Maya Indira Ganesh, who is present throughout the year with new content and publications in various forms.
To the imprint
Portrait, K Allado-McDowell
photo: Ian Byers-Gamber
K Allado-McDowell – who is considered an innovator in the collaborative use of AI and machine learning for co-creative and literary work – is the Gropius Bau’s first Writer in Residence. As an integral part of Ether’s Bloom, the residency provides a digital space to investigate and publish writings on Artificial Intelligence in the scope of a three-month collaboration with the Gropius Bau Journal.
During their residency, Allado-McDowell will focus on writings that challenge, re-consider, subvert, collaborate and mingle with learning algorithms. Circling around questions of how technology can enable interspecies futures, Allado-McDowell’s contributions to the Gropius Bau Journal will also focus on making the complex dimensions of Artificial Intelligence accessible to a broader audience.
Ether’s Bloom: A Programme on Artificial Intelligence, Elisa Giardina Papa, installation view, Gropius Bau (2023)
photo: Luca Girardini
Elisa Giardina Papa’s work traces how extractive forms of AI capitalism have strained our capacities for imagining, desiring and labouring. Through political yet poetic framing, she calls attention to those aspects of our lives which, nonetheless, remain radically unruly, untranslatable and incomputable.Her video trilogy Technologies of Care (2016), Labor of Sleep, Have you been able to change your habits?? (2017) and Cleaning Emotional Data (2020) explores how labour and care are reframed by digital economies and artificial intelligence.
Ether’s Bloom: A Programme on Artificial Intelligence, Mimi Ọnụọha, installation view, Gropius Bau (2023)
photo: Luca Girardini
Mimi Ọnụọha investigates the gaps in systems of labour, ecology and relations, questioning notions of progress as it pertains to digital and archival media. The short film These Networks in Our Skin (2021) portrays women who re-wire physical cables as a way of reformatting the world and opening up new paradigms for the experiences of Black, Indigenous and hybrid histories. In showing the rewiring of the cables of history, the artist explores a ritual of awakening, trust and forgotten narratives. In the accompanying installation The Cloth in the Cable (2023), Ọnụọha embeds cables with spices, fabrics, dust and other materials, rewiring them with new meanings and ontologies. The site-specific version of the installation was realised with contributions of the Berlin-based interdisciplinary writer and poet hn. lyonga.
Patricia Domínguez, Madre Drone, 2019/20
Courtesy: the artist
Patricia Domínguez’s Madre Drone (2019–2020) makes explicit the daily struggles of Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities to safeguard their territories. Domínguez proposes a myth of multi-species resistance, producing a new vision of cosmological and technological sensitivity and resilience on how to keep going collectively.
kennedy+swan, Mixed Signals, 2023, Augmented watercolours
As part of a new commission for Ether’s Bloom, the Berlin-based duo kennedy+swan will present a series of augmented watercolours which question non-human intelligence. By scanning the works with an AR app, the audience will be invited into a predominantly analogue, yet digital world that – enabled by new AI algorithms – offers deeper access to and empathy for human-animal communication. Machine learning reveals the hidden messages of nature’s manifold languages, enabling a dialogue between “us” and “them”. kennedy+swan’s 3D scans of hand-made miniatures and landscape models add a new layer to the watercolours and reveal the constructive power of upcoming AI systems.