Are mundane objects really art in disguise? Is everything?
I found a fascinating video this morning on Aeon, one of my favorite online magazines, which covers everything from psychology to philosophy to art.
Memo Akten is a Turkish visual artist whose Learning to See series helps viewers see and understand the world in new ways. For the above film, Gloomy Sunday, Akten used a live webcam programmed with a machine-learning algorithm. He then presented it with everyday objects like keys, power cords and pieces of cloth.
The camera’s algorithm uses thousands of images pulled from the Google Arts & Culture Project, an online collection of high-resolution images of artworks housed in partner museums around the world. The video is set to moody, avant-garde music by Greek-American soprano Diamanda Galás.
The result is, well, awe-inspiring.
The camera sees something very different from what we see because it is programmed to see things based only on what it has seen before (in this case, lots and lots of art). It makes predictions of what is happening and what will happen next based on prior inputs, not on precise recreations of the outside world.
“It can see only what it already knows, just like us,” says Akten.