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organized by Antonin Jousse, Espace Croisé, La Condition Publique
october 3rd, 2019

Poster of the conference, realized by Pauline Coutant.

This day was organized by Antonin Jousse in collaboration with the Condition Publique and the Espace Croisé. We would particularly like to thank Laura Mené, Barbara Lerbut and Jean-Christophe Levassor for their support as well as the teams of both places for the organization: Shabnam Rahimian, Clémentine Navarro and Pauline Coutant.

The relationship between humans and technology is becoming more and more dense and takes place in most of our lives. Far from a simple interactive relationship with a computer, our relationship with technology is more deeply rooted in our social, professional and cultural practices. The word "machines" is used here to suggest a certain indeterminacy of what the machinic and technological object is - more than to remain in a tradition of HMI that is not the subject of this study day. The machine becomes an indefinite entity powered by an energy source and which makes it possible to carry out a set of tasks, to react to a context or potentially to take a certain autonomy of action. The participants in this conference, whether artists, researchers or cultural professionals, can thus hear the term "machine" in their own way and propose various plastic forms: objects with behaviour, interactive technological devices, robots, interfaces, light machines, etc. All these forms have the common goal of creating moments of encounter with a (human) audience.

It is precisely this meeting time that lies at the heart of our reflection. How can two entities of different natures communicate with each other? How is this type of encounter constructed or written? During this one, the question of language arises. Do a technological device and its creator speak the same language? Does this same device simply copy the gestures of its creator? How can it be at the centre of artistic devices staging an encounter with the public?

Lecture 1: Dialoguing with machines or navigating in our own memory - Antonin Jousse

Programs, machines, or what we proudly call "Artificial Intelligence" are systems fed with data of various kinds: photographs, texts, images, encrypted data, etc. All these data have only one primary source: the human species. The latter massively records its existence, tracks its movements and actions, saves its life on social networks. All these uses and behaviors transform our relationship with technologies that have become sources of retrieval and commodification of this human memory. Antonin Jousse identifies three uses: memory to create machines (potentially in our image), the machine as a monument to our memory and the interpretation of this memory by the machine. Through an analysis of the work of several artists (Jonas Lund, Gregory Chatonsky and his own work with the artist Ali Honarvar), Antonin Jousse addresses the question of the relationship between man and machine and detects a particular relationship to his own memory read and used by the machine. The relational question that is important to us here is therefore fundamentally based on a totally human datum: his memory on the one hand, and his choices of analysis on the other. Even some deep learning cannot contradict this point, any automation of processing will not replace the memory it uses.

Lecture of Antonin Jousse, photography by Shabnam Rahimian.

Lecture 2 : ‘Stuttering eyes’ – Overwhelming of the visual system as an aesthetic element of installations and performances – Dawid Liftinger

Dawid Liftinger is an Austrian visual artist who lives and works in Cologne. Her artistic work focuses on light, its characteristics and what it can give to see, to feel. Through several of his works (7062 lines, presented at the Ars Electronica Center in 2018; RGBW presented in 2018 in Tunis and Tehran; F 18W T8 G13 865, sound and light performance presented in 2017 at Ars Electronica and Cologne), the artist conceives light as both a natural and artificial property. He plays on this dual property to digitally produce flickering light bulbs, to break down natural light or that of the screen. He works at the same time in triggering physical reactions by modifying frequencies, by setting lighting in motion; and also composes in this ambivalence between natural and artificial. Light becomes for him the common point between our two worlds, the space of encounter and experience between humans and machines.

Lecture of Dawid Liftinger, photography by Shabnam Rahimian.

Lecture 3: When the machine addresses man, notes from artistic devices - Corinne Melin

Based on several examples of creation, Corinne Melin distinguishes three strata in the human-machine relationship: representations, belief and encorporation. First of all, she distinguishes two levels of representation: that of the apparatus body and that of the mediated body. It is precisely the latter that has undergone the most important transformation, passing from an "I" represented on the screen by an avatar (the web of the years 1990-2000, Second Life) to an "I" represented by data and perfectly linked to the body. Corine Melin then analyses different levels of belief in what she calls "person-objects". These digital objects thus give off their own corporality that seems to take on a certain autonomy (Ghost by Fabien Zocco, 2018). This simulation of autonomy here creates an interspecies relationship through the capacity of the machine to be or to simulate an autonomy. This relationship intensifies when it is rooted in a direct relationship to the body (Geminoid by Hiroshi Ishiguro, Spider and I by Fabien Zocco, 2019). Finally, Corine Melin analyzes the phenomenon of encorporation by analysing the work of the Near Future Laboratory. She distinguishes here a practice of the smartphone both as an increase of the body and a living space.

Lecture of Corinne Melin, photography by Shabnam Rahimian.

Round Table 1: How to create digital devices and dialogue situations? - Ali Honarvar (Tehran), Arya Tabandehpoor (Tehran), Noriyuki Suzuki (Bremen), Fabien Zocco (Lille)

Lecture of the panel discussion, photography by Shabnam Rahimian.

Lecture 4: Dessins logiques - Gaëtan Robillard

Gaëtan Robillard presents his installation Dessins logiques created in 2018 from a workshop in a high school. The installation poses the question directly to these young high school students: could a computer ever replace an artist? From the texts written by the students, he draws a set of reflections printed on Plexiglas plates and accompanied by screens, each of which presents a program that teaches how to draw/write. From the images generated, a feverishness emerges, lines are drawn, connecting dots and trying to form letters and shapes. From there, the relationship to the author, to the autonomy of the machine and to his ability to express himself is at stake.

Lecture of Gaëtan Robillard in front of his installation, photography by Shabnam Rahimian.

Lecture 5: Interactive installations, the spectator facing incomprehension - Marion De Ruyter

Based on a series of interactive works such as the installation Musical Swings by Daily Tous les jours exhibited in the heart of Montreal or the interactive works of the Brussels collective LAb[au], Marion De Ruyter defines the notion of incomprehension. She situates this state as a key element in the relationship between spectators and the interactive works shown. In a contrintuitive position in the face of ergonomic logics, she situates incomprehension as a method of entering into a relationship between the work and the spectators and as a means of deploying and constructing this type of work.

Lecture of Marion De Ruyter, photography by Shabnam Rahimian.

Lecture 6: Behavioral objects. Explanation in art - Samuel Bianchini

Samuel Bianchini presents his work within EnsadLab and the Reflective Interaction research team. He is developing the research axis on Behavioral Objects, an experiment on non-figurative robotic objects showing behaviours. Several of his artistic installations (Poursuite, 2006, Hors cadre, 2015, Disabled Chair, 2014-2019, or Le 23e joueur, 2012) demonstrate a research on movement, an aestheticization and a precision in the research on the behaviour of one or more objects. In it, he analyses the work of experimentation and exploration that is constructed in the experience of his objects and their development, confronting himself not only with programs but also with materials with their own characteristics. Here we can cite the EnsadLab's presentation "From then on, how to experience a reversal of point of view: how to try to perceive the world through the "eyes" and "sensitivity" of objects?".

Lecture of Samuel Bianchini, photography by Shabnam Rahimian.

Round Table 2: Producing, disseminating and educating for man-machine dialogue through artistic creation - Barbara Lerbut (Production Manager, la Condition Publique), Thierry Mbaye (Conception, management and mediation of Innovation projects, Le Fablab, la Condition Publique), Laura Mené (Director, Espace Croisé)

Lecture of the second panel discussion, photography by Shabnam Rahimian.