09 artworks in the exhibition Mind & Machine – VFCD 2023 in HCMC are 09 powerful answers to the question: Can artificial intelligence (AI) replace humans in the creative process? Artists maximise the use of existing AI tools, from the 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)… in creating and developing their artworks. Here, to a certain extent, we found the answer in their practical and profound practices.
Just-in-case (Dự phòng) by artist Trần Thảo Miên and All the Places I Have Lived (Tất cả những nơi tôi đã từng sống) by artist Christian Berg both use ChatGPT to initiate a deeper conversation between humans and machines, thereby “testing” AI’s level of knowledge about the world. Managing these smart dialogues from behind the scenes were the artists, which generated new meanings for seemingly ancient and almost forgotten memories. In contrast, Human Learning by artist Nguyễn Hoàng Giang and the immersive interactive installation TrustIn_Al by Cẩm Anh Lương showed the other side of the issues: we usually see machines imitate humans, then what about the other way around, can humans learn something from machines in return? In a world that “trusts in AI”, can AI replace other beliefs? These artworks initiated multi-dimensional conversations and criticisms where vivid portraits of AI and humans emerged.
There was also an interactive artwork that was a favourite of many young people: Im-persona-tion by Behalf Studio. Just scan the code and stand in the correct spot, a colourful “Persona” character will pop up on the screen, an avatar of your personality. This artwork began with the question “Will AI replace creatives?”, which emerged as Behalf was designing the key visuals for Vietnam Festival of Creativity & Design 2023. The interaction between humans and machines has underlined how irreplaceable human creativity is, a process in which AI is merely an effective supporting tool in the materialisation and enhancement of the creative vision.
In addition to the artworks that pose questions on the credibility of AI and its relationship with creativity, there were also artists who apply technology in archiving and preservation. One of them is artist Như Bùi who used AR technology to introduce cultural festivals on the verge of oblivion, contributing to the preservation of intangible cultural heritage through her work Play to preserve the past; or the artwork Live Far Stay Close by Andrew Stiff and Becky Lu “teleporting” the audiences to the sidewalks in District 7 and District 4 to observe the tables and chairs, houses and streets… as well as moments of transitions, personal lives, rituals and habits right in the space of the exhibition.
Between Two Worlds by Hà Châu Bảo Nhi helped the viewers realise that humans themselves are a miracle of creation. Using MIDAS algorithms and Pytorch (a machine learning platform), Hà Châu Bảo Nhi “helped” machines determine whether someone is standing near or far, how far away this person is, what are their distinctive features… – something that humans are “blessed” with and can master at a young age, but take decades of research for machines.
At last, the research Beyond Textiles: Crafting Tomorrow’s Material Innovations by Donna Cleveland và Cheryl Prendergast, two lecturers and their group of students at RMIT University opened up an interesting world of textiles: kombucha vinegar can be made into a shirt, bioplastics can give way to multiple choices for fabrics, and heat-moulded textiles and natural dyeing can create splendid works. Here, technology plays a great role in generating new sustainable materials, while also showing how indispensable humans are throughout a creative process.
Curator Nguyễn Hải Nam said: With multiple facets of life as its canvas, the exhibition dives into both physical and digital spaces, explores the impact of technology on religions, and experiences the possibility of memories and the preservation of culture using digitalisation. Each work on display invites visitors to immerse themselves fully, to interact with the art, and to enjoy the experience. Yet, beneath the surface, there are moments that encourage introspection, sparking questions about how we navigate our lives in this digital age.”
This is what Mind & Machine in particular and the Vietnam Festival of Creativity & Design (VFCD) wants to instill in its visitors, not only with the artworks in the exhibition but also through various talks, seminars and workshops.
Stay tuned for the 5th edition of VFCD in Hanoi!