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What do the terms ‘life’, ‘love’, ‘art’ and ‘god’ look like to an algorithm?

An unusually inventive instance of digital art, A Brief History of Almost Everything in Five Minutes is a sped-up excerpt from the hour-long multichannel video installation Deep Meditations. The London-based, Turkish-born visual artist Memo Akten created the piece by entering broad and abstract search terms such as ‘everything’, ‘life’, ‘love’, ‘art’, ‘god’ and ‘nature’ into the popular photo-sharing website Flickr. He then filtered the dataset through a deep-neural network, which used the inputs to summon what it understood to be visual expressions of these subjective human concepts, resulting in otherworldly and uncanny evolving images. The visuals were then paired with audio generated by another algorithm that absorbed the sounds of spiritual rituals from across the world. According to Akten, the piece ‘is intended for both introspection and self-reflection, as a mirror to ourselves, our own mind and how we make sense of what we see; and also as a window into the mind of the machine, as it tries to make sense of its observations and memories’. For more digital wizardry from Akten, watch Gloomy Sunday.

Video by Memo Akten

7 May 2019

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