When Artistic Authorship Meets Scientific Bias

Team Picks, 2021
slide projector, slides

Jenn Karson
Cameron Bremner
Ethan Davis
Syd Culbert
Emma Garvey
Keri Toksu

The University of Vermont Art + Artificial Intelligence (AI) Research Group, founded in early 2020, probes the possibilities of machine learning tools, including neural networks and genetic algorithms, as creative catalysts. Karson employs tactile art practice and generative computer algorithms to create a continuously evolving body of visual compositions encompassing prints, mapping, animation, interactive installation, sculpture, and soundscapes. These are artifacts of porous boundaries between human and machine, real and fake, original and copy, analog and digital; breaking down these binaries is always iterative and generative of new possibilities. 

In the summer of 2021, six research group members trained six styleGAN models on the Athena Dataset, a series of artist-made glyphs. With similar intention – train the model to recreate the Athena Dataset –each researcher chose a training dataset and then selected their favorite ten images from the thousands their models generated. Team Picks features these favorites on film slides and exhibits them through a slide projector carousel. The installation contrasts desirable artistic authorship and undesirable scientific bias; it reveals how data selection is an expression of a point of view. Team Picks explores the tension between the materiality of the analog and the ephemerality of the digital. It confronts the destiny of any new technology – that it will eventually become an old, discarded one.