Messages Hidden Behind Creative Practices At The Exhibition “Mind & Machine”

The exhibition Mind & Machine, or Trí tuệ & Công nghệ, was part of Vietnam Festival of Creativity & Design 2023, showcasing creative works of artists and depicting the present and future perspectives on the relationship between machines and the human minds.

The 09 artworks in the exhibition Mind & Machine – VFCD 2023 in HCMC and Hanoi are 09 powerful responses to the question: Can artificial intelligence replace humans in the creative process? Artists maximised the application of existing artificial intelligence tools, from the more popular ones such as ChatGPT and Python to the more complicated ones such as augmented reality (AR), MIDAS algorithms and Pytorch (a machine learning platform)… With each work, the audiences experienced, directly interacted and, to a certain extent, found the answers in these practical and profound practices. 

Yet, what were the concepts and messages hidden behind the artworks on display at the exhibition “Mind & Machine”? What were the artists’ inspirations and the stories they wanted to convey? What experiences were predetermined? And why? 

Join us and find out the stories behind their creative practices through the artists’ statement for each artwork!

Live Far Stay Close

Andrew Stiff
United Kingdom

Becky Lu
United Kingdom

Sống Xa Ở Gần explores the everyday life on and around the Kênh Tẻ (Tẻ Canal). The AR installations reveal the small details discovered by the creatives and portray them as objects that represent the moments of transition, from private life, rituals, and habits, to public display. The project acknowledges the bond between them and the shared culture of the unexceptional spaces of HCMC. The work is developed as part the River Cities Network, a global research platform that explores the relationship between river networks and life of cities.

This project was developed by Becky Lu and Andy Stiff, in collaboration with alumni from RMIT Design Studies course. The work is developed as part of RMIT’s engagement with the River Cities Network, a global research platform that explores the relationship between river networks and life of cities.

Kênh Tẻ Canal was built in the early 20th century. It split the village of Khanh Hoi in two. One half became D4, and the remainder is located in D7. The AR installations are meant to be viewed overlooking the canal from both sides. This acknowledges the bond between them and the shared culture of the unexceptional spaces of HCMC.

*The artwork has QR codes embedded, as well as the AR zine map to use in the District 4 / District 7 locations.

TrótTin_AI | TrustIn_AI

Cẩm-Anh Lương 
Buon Ma Thuot, Vietnam

Algorithms can be biased in several ways. AI systems learn to make decisions based on training data, which can include biased human decisions or reflect historical or social inequities. This can lead to the perpetuation of biases in decision-making.

When carnival rituals represent the crowning and subsequent de-crowning of a king/queen/power upholder, does AI represent a crowning of power? Most of our searches, conversations, secrets, hopes, needs, and worship might start with a question to AI. The work “TrótTin_AI” (TrustIn_AI) aims to question the trustworthiness of AI, It asks whether we can trust AI as much as we question the trustworthiness of our ancestors’ beliefs, customs, and traditions. For example, in Vietnam, ancestor worship involves believing you can communicate with ancestors through a third-party fortune teller.

By drawing parallels between AI and traditional beliefs, “TrótTin_AI” prompts reflection on the potential biases of algorithms and their impact on the news and resources with which humans converse. Using various AI image and text generators and Touch Designer, the installation detects human bodies and generates a projection mapping display featuring abstract forms based on a particular dataset. This dataset on the themes of human beliefs, carnivals, and festivals generates horizontal, adaptable words, ideas, thoughts, and feelings without any hierarchical structure. “TrótTin_AI” aims to blur the line between the physical and digital worlds, creating an entertaining and thought-provoking experience that encourages dialogue around the carnival theme.

Participants can engage with the installation directly and personally by sharing or performing personal gestures of offerings, worship, or other customs they practice, along with their experiences. This engagement fosters a closer understanding of the relationship between AI and human beliefs, encouraging reflection on the ways in which these two seemingly disparate entities can interact.

Tất Cả Những Nơi Tôi Từng Sống | All the Places I Have Lived 

Christian Berg
Bonn, Germany

“All the Places I Have Lived” explores the concept of home from the perspective of a Western migrant to Asia. In this series Christian Berg revisits the different neighborhoods of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, where he has lived during the past one and a half decades. Feeling at home in the city yet never fully a part of Vietnamese society he finds himself in a third space. He creates false memories of his migrant life stations by training AI models based on his own photographs and re-imagining the neighborhoods that became a part of his biography. Sometimes it is an odd shadow or impossible light direction, that gives away the falseness of these memories, sometimes an AI artefact or a fake sky, or what looks like letters at first but appears nothing but gibberish when examined up close. These memories evoke bitter-sweet nostalgia. But they are not true.

To create an even deeper sense of distortion in the memories he employs glitch aesthetics. Each image gets infused with a memory of the place it represents. Through collaboration with ChatGPT he created a tool in Python, called “Memory Infuser”, that creates a glitch-like effect in a JPG, based on a text input that also gets overlayed with the image. It is important to note that the tool is set up in a way that only creates one specific output based on the text-image combination. If the text changes, the image changes.

Trên cả Dệt may: Phát triển những sáng kiến vật liệu của tương lai | Beyond Textiles: Crafting Tomorrow’s Material Innovations
2022 – 2023

Donna Cleveland 
New Zealand

Cheryl Prendergast

Welcome to ‘Beyond Textiles: crafting tomorrow’s material innovations.’ This series of works unveils a groundbreaking convergence of traditional craftsmanship and cutting-edge technology, transcending the boundaries of textiles as we know them. With a keen focus on sustainable innovation, our event redefines materiality through inventive practices such as bioplastics, kombucha leather, natural dyeing with food waste, and heat-moulded textiles. Curated exclusively with the innovative work of students in RMIT’s Fashion Textile Technologies course, these artworks offer an immersive journey that not only showcases future-forward materials but also sparks insightful conversations on textile design and the dynamic interplay of craftsmanship, and innovation. Join us to experience first-hand the possibilities that lie at the intersection of imagination, technology, and sustainable design.

Materials of the Future: Bioplastics and Kombucha Leather – Discover the future of textiles with our showcase of materials crafted from bioplastics and kombucha leather. These innovative materials represent a significant shift towards sustainability in the fashion and textile industry. Explore how technology plays a pivotal role in creating these eco-friendly alternatives to traditional textiles. See their remarkable potential to replace conventional materials, offering a kinder and more responsible choice for our planet.

Nature’s Palette: Natural Dyeing with Food Waste – Immerse yourself in the vibrant world of textiles dyed using natural materials sourced from food waste. This exhibition celebrates the seamless fusion of nature and technology, where waste finds new purpose in creating stunning colours. Discover how nature’s own technology facilitates the extraction of pigments from food waste, minimising environmental impact and promoting sustainable practices. Witness how this approach transforms textiles into a canvas of beautiful colours and patterns.

Forming Futures: Shaping Textiles with Heat and Steam – Technological advancements have unlocked the potential for intricate, detail-rich textile designs that were once impossible to achieve. Explore how heat and steam are harnessed to mold fabrics into captivating forms. Witness the resource efficiency of this process, as it minimises waste during manufacturing and sets the course for a more sustainable future in textile design.

Artistry of Nature: Experimental Natural Fibre Felting – Experience the captivating artistry of textiles created through experimental natural fibre felting. This exhibition showcases the delicate balance between tradition and contemporary craftsmanship, made possible through the guiding hand of technology. Discover how technology refines and enhances felting techniques, resulting in exquisite, nature-inspired textiles. These pieces exemplify the fusion of time-honoured practices with modern innovation, offering a glimpse into the boundless creativity at the intersection of nature and technology.

Human Learning | Người Học, Học người 

Nguyễn Hoàng Giang
Hanoi, Vietnam

The history of Artificial Intelligence (AI) research was characterised by our desire to build machines that act and behave like human beings. However, as machines have become (narrowly) intelligent and will become (generally) more intelligent than humans, a set of questions should be raised: Would men learn from machines? If yes then would humans learn to be machines or learn to be human (from machines)? What are the implications of human learning from machines? Why do humans need to learn from machines? and so on.

To answer these questions, I invited 4 performers to learn from machines. They were shown videos in which robots or AI agents engage in physical activities, from falling and trying to stand up to playing football. The performers were then asked to imitate these movements and choreograph their own interpretation of robotic movements. The experience was both informative and surprising. Some of the performers “invented” new movements by incorporating what they learned from machines. Human Learning does not only seek to document this process of learning but also imagine a future where machines and humans live together, co-create and learn from each other.

Just-in-case | Dự phòng

Trần Thảo Miên
Hanoi, Vietnam

“Just-in-case” imitates the display of an immersive gaming station with a full surround screen and chair as a conversation between the seem-to-be-perfect AI realm and the human unperfect creation. Tracing paper – the cellulose fibre material used to be a key for precisely copying art and design works that are soon superseded by technology – is used to transfer the artist’s conversation with ChatGPT about making an altar for the spirit of the trees and the visual result generated by Adobe Firefly. Opposite is her paper maché altar made of recycled calendar, the man-made time record system, incorporating perspectives from her research on lost ancient rituals and indigenous knowledge. “Just-in-case” questions the way we preserve and revive cultural practices in this AI era.

This altar is also foldable, lightweight, and easy to put in case for carrying in case of emergency.

Between Two Worlds | Giữa Hai Thế Giới

Hà Châu Bảo Nhi
Hue, Vietnam

Artificial intelligence (AI) studies could take several decades for computers to be able to do what children instinctively can. For example, the recognition of shapes or distance. Even though the research process has seen significant achievements, computers have yet to be able to replicate how humans perceive the world around them. This explains why autonomous driving technology still cannot entirely replace human drivers. Computers still cannot on their own differentiate between pedestrians and objects on the street, or measure distances and widths/depths as proficient as humans do. Therefore, machine learning studies play an important role in developing our solutions for the present and the future.

In this work, Ha Chau Bao Nhi used machine learning for computers to recognise the shapes of humans and calculate distances. As a result, the computer creates a virtual space equivalent to the real world where we exist. In this way, we can see how machines “see” and “think” about the world, and how it differs from humans’ world.

Why use machine learning just to reflect humans like a mirror, a mission that seems easily accomplishable for a camera? When we look at a photograph, we are naturally able to distinguish between humans and objects, and determine who is in the front and who is in the back. But the camera does not have this ability. It is just a tool that records images by focusing light sources onto a photosensitive film, capturing images through chemical reactions. The camera provides raw image data for our brain to process. And, of course, computers cannot automatically process this visual information without the support of machine learning.

With the MIDAS algorithm, a program determines whether the visitor is standing near or far away, allowing the computer to generate a virtual space equivalent to the real one. With Pytorch (machine learning framework) to classify images in the computer’s vision, the computer can recognise humans, automatically turning their shapes white in contrast with the virtual space – a task that the computer would have not been able to accomplish without machine learning.

It can be seen that for simple tasks that we do subconsciously, machines in fact require significant advancements to reach the current stage. This demonstrates that while machine learning has seen great successes, the human brain remains truly astonishing

Chơi để bảo tồn quá khứ | Play to Preserve the Past

Bùi Quỳnh Như
HCMC, Vietnam

‘Play to Preserve the Past’ is the convergence of two worlds – my Vietnamese heritage and an unwavering commitment to safeguarding our intangible cultural heritage through augmented reality (AR).

In an era of rapid urbanisation and globalisation, countries like Vietnam are witnessing the erosion of their invaluable intangible heritage. AR serves as the medium to bring the audience into the heart of Vietnamese heritage. The series of apps Play to Preserve the Past offers immersive cultural experiences that bridge spatial and generational gaps, introduce a contemporary image of Vietnamese tradition to international audiences, while reclaiming Vietnam’s narratives through lesser-known aspects of our heritage.

Modernity has changed the way we celebrate festivals over time, and in this digital era, when portable device becomes an integral part of our daily lives, this work asks: how can our cultural heritage evolve with AR technologies, becoming a living heritage in its own right? This journey is not merely an academic pursuit but an introspective journey reflecting human advancement in a technology-dominated era.

Standing at a critical juncture where traditions evolve with technology, we must find a way to capture and represent our art and culture authentically. This work hopes to inspire creative practitioners to become responsible “future ancestors”, ensuring sustainable digitisation of their heritage.


Behalf Studio
Hanoi, Vietnam

“Will AI Replace Creative Workers?”

This was a question pondered by the studio during their creation of the visual identity for the Vietnam Festival of Creativity & Design 2023. The studio addressed this question by emphasising the irreplaceable essence of human creativity, relegating AI to the role of a powerful adjunct in executing and enhancing human creative visions. In a humorous and intentionally lowbrow response, the team collaborated with AI to forge a generated human character/digital avatar, termed an “AI-generated creative.”

The project involved developing a design system in tandem with ChatGPT that maps complex cognitive data — from personality traits like extroversion/introversion to creative thinking styles and methodologies inspired by the works of J.P. Guilford and Edward De Bono — into the simple visual characteristics of what they have aptly named “Persona.” This system, utilising creative coding within a 3D environment, enables the audience to generate their own Persona via a series of questions and then interact with it using motion tracking.

This interpretation of data, while holistic, is fundamentally an artistic endeavour through speculative and generative design. It serves as the studio’s answer to the original question, affirming the indispensable and irreplaceable role of the creative author in the work.


Chii Nguyễn