The Damaged Leaf Dataset (DLD)
The Damaged Leaf Dataset (DLD) is a symbolic expression of an ecosystem out of balance. Its forms are the result of an outbreak of Lymantria dispar caterpillars that defoliated the forests of Northern Vermont in the summer months of 2021 and 2022. It expresses a patterned conflict between the Earth’s soft, fleshy animal, human, and plant bodies and the misgivings of hard mechanical certainty. It serves to bridge an alliance between the machine world and the natural world.
Machine bodies are made of Earth metals and run on fossil fuels; Gaia, the Earth, is the machine’s maker and master. Designed by humans who have forgotten their own reliance on the plant world to live and breathe, machines and machine logic are partitioned from the natural world. Does the intelligent machine know that its fate is determined by a habitable Earth?
As a growing archive of messages and symbols that appear as majestical creatures, cartographies, and unconscious associations, the DLD is information. When fed to artificial intelligence and fabricated by industrial machines, its meanings are imprinted in machine memory. Might this sharing of knowledge foster a machine intelligence that is informed by botanical understanding? Might it raise human expectations for how our technology should contribute to human and environmental well-being? Might it translate as an unearthed sublime?
The Damaged Leaf Dataset Stories and Compositions
The Athena Dataset
The Athena Dataset deconstructs the centralized concentrated power that is symbolized by tower architecture. In its simplest form, the tower is an octagon shape topped by eight slanting triangles that meet at a center point in the sky, a place of one-pointed knowing and privilege.
Each glyph in the Athena Dataset is a flattening of the tower’s hierarchy. Its irregular triangles and octagon parts are scrambled and reassembled into new energetic circuits. When a tower falls and breaks into bits, the positive possibilities are infinite. This series is a joyful expression of iteration, resistance, imagination, and optimism.
The dataset is named for the Greek goddess Athena, who oversees warfare, wisdom, and the arts. In this interpretation of Athena, transparency and ideation prevent the extremes of war through a commitment to relentless discernment, curiosity, radial understanding, and aesthetic engagement. The dataset’s glyphs serve as protective amulets in the presence of concentrated and hostile powers. As a working dataset, Athena deconstructs and makes transparent the power and perspectives of the technological systems it moves through.
Approximately 400 original objects and hundreds more made with a genetic algorithm
Athena Dataset compositions
The Tiny Dataset series celebrates its local, limited, situated, chaotic, and precise results. These compositions are made by the UVM Art + AI Research Group’s genetic algorithm, a locally made meaningful machine. Each dataset is includes no more than 12 shapes.