IM Guest Lecture Reflections

During one of our lessons, we were fortunate enough to receive a guest lecture by Ong Kian Peng! His lecture was on Automated Utopia and he touched upon many interesting points surrounding the Utopia/Dystopia and Artificial Intelligence. I would like to briefly talk about some of the points he made and what I thought about them!

During his lecture, he posed us a question-

So how can AI present a different world than that of the cyberpunk genre and give us a technological Utopian society?

I immediately thought of the American science fiction television series, Westworld. (It’s a really interesting western series and I highly recommend it!)

In the show Westworld, people travel to a Wild-West-themed amusement park filled with humanoid robots called “hosts.” With the whole wild west theme, it is already a very different take on the common AIs in a cyberpunk universe (such as technologically advanced cities features in Ghost in the Shell or Blade Runner 2049). Instead of thinking forwards, and placing AIs in a fictional futuristic setting, Westworld places AIs in a futuristic setting that is seemingly old school and historically inspired, going back to the time of cowboys and steam powered railways.

Westworld': Everything to Know Before the Series Premiere ...HBO brings “Westworld" to life for lucky consumers - Event MarketerA Westworld Cameraman Showed Up In One Scene, But Was It Really ...Westworld' at SXSW: Photos Inside the Town HBO Built from Scratch ...Ghost In The Shell VFX Breakdown | Movies | EmpireArtStation - Ghost in the Shell - City at daylight, Jan UrschelMunich City Wallpaper - Blade Runner 2049 City, Hd Wallpapers ...


What value does it add ? And what do we lose as a result of automation?

In Westworld, the park is of great value to high-paying “guests”.  It allows them to indulge their wildest fantasies within the park without fear of retaliation from the hosts, who are prevented by their programming from harming humans. They are able to visit brothels, drink shots at the salon, take on bounty hunts on horseback, or have a high-noon showdown, et cetera. The whole world is theirs to explore and interact with. The AIs are there to aid them in to the whims and fancies of the guests. These hosts think and interact like real people, but since they aren’t living beings, guests often treat them with reckless abandon. I think that the whole allure of this automated theme park in Westworld made the humans in their world lose their humane-ness. In the theme park, people are shown to lose their humane restraints, to act without any moral or ethical judgement. Talking about the premise of Westworld, Georgia Tech’s Ridel said:  “Making things that are designed to be as close to looking and acting human and then saying ‘go ahead and abuse these things,’ to me it says something about humans.”

Just because the hosts were not human, guests say it fit to take advantage of them. This makes me wonder, in a world with humans and AIs, would it be possible to truly co-exist? To be inclusive and not just tolerance. Is a world where humans and AIs are equals possible? Or will it always be painted as a world whereby AIs are sub subservient for they are the creations of man, and eventually grow intelligent/conscious enough to rebel against us?

This thought was also spurred on by Bin’s sharing of Justin Emard, Mirai Moriyama and Alter’s artwork, Co (AI) xistence.


Can humans and AI coexist peacefully without any racial discrimination? This question reminds me of a Japanese animated movie called Time of Eve.

Set in a not-too-distant future, androids have become integrated into society’s daily lives. Like most other people, the protagonist, Rikuo treats robots and androids like appliances, despite them bearing an uncanny resemblance to a normal human. In the film,  androids are easily identified with a holographic status ring above their heads. Rikuo, who has taken robots for granted for his entire life, one day discovers that Sammy, his home android, has been acting independently and coming and going on her own. He finds a strange phrase recorded in her activity log, “Are you enjoying the Time of Eve?”. Along with a friend, they follow Sammy to an unusual cafe called “The Time of Eve”. There, they learn that the cafe’s main rule is to not discriminate between humans and androids. Within the cafe, androids do not display their status rings, as such, patrons will be unable to identify who is android and who is human in the cafe. In that intimate shared space, they have transcended the discriminatory boundaries and are all seen as equal beings. Additionally, when patrons depart, the door is automatically locked for two minutes to prevent another patron from following them to discover their true nature. The whole idea of hiding one’s true race to not let it affect interactions and relationships within the cafe is really interesting to me. The conversations among the patrons make frequent allusions to Isaac Asimov‘s Three Laws of Robotics, often highlighting surprising interpretations of those laws, through not only the point of view of humans, but also the robots themselves.

The overarching plot involves the beginnings of independence displayed by the androids, what they do with that independence within the bounds of the three laws, and what motivates them. Secondary plots involve the individual stories of each android the protagonists encounter in the cafe, and how they come to discover which patrons are androids and which are not. Through multiple visits to the cafe and unprejudiced interactions with the different patrons, Rikuo comes to realise that perhaps the true identity of each guest is not what matters the most. The neutrality of the cafe eventually enables him to let go of his former prejudice against androids. Additionally, though he was initially fearful of Sammy’s independence, he begins to learn that she is more human than he first thought.  Illah Nourbakhsh, professor of robotics at Carnegie Mellon University said: “It’s a dangerous moral ground are we walking into, making systems that are reminiscent of humanity and then treating them in a way that is inhumane”. It perplexed me to think why humans would aim to model robots or program artificial intelligence so closely after ourselves, only to treat them as lower beings. Should they not receive the same respect? If some people believe that men is born with innate sins because of Adam’s doing, then shouldn’t robots/AI be born with innate humanity since they are our creations?

I think that the tiny cafe  in Time of Eve was something close to a utopia for the shared interests of humans and androids alike!

Time of Eve: The Movie - Official Trailer - YouTubeI'm scared of you, let's have sex: Time of Eve | Bateszi Anime BlogEve no jikan (2010) - Photo Gallery - IMDbTime of Eve Review | The Foodie Geek


While researching more I found this article, and part of it said-

Although robots do not have emotions, people can get attached to them, Georgia Tech’s Riedl said. Some people name their Roombas and give them backstories, only to be emotionally upset when the devices break down, he said. People have even held funerals for robot dogs.

Say, if robots/AI were to gain the ability to form emotional connections back with humans, would they be genuine? Emotional connections formed out of feelings instead of logical and rational thought? This reminded me of the Australian sci-fi film “I am Mother“.  The film follows Daughter, a girl in a post-apocalyptic bunker, being raised by Mother, a robot aiding the re-population of Earth.  It was interesting to watch the change in their emotions towards each other, and their relationship dynamics. I don’t want to spoil the plot by revealing too much, but the movie left me with even more thoughts about the whole AI and humans in a dystopian/utopian world scenario.

AI should always follow the 3 Laws by Asimov, but what if the means and the ends conflict with each other and the 3 laws.  Should AI be allowed to harm humans for the greater good of humanity? Should we then put our trust in them that they are in the greater scheme of things, obeying the 3 Laws. In my opinion, artificial intelligence is able to think rationally and logically, unlike humans who are unable to separate our emotions from thinking no matter how hard we try. Despite our best efforts, we will never be objective while I think that AI is able to do so, so in times like this what if the AI’s actions seemed to be creating a dystopian world, but only temporarily, to pave way for the utopian world they are trying to achieve for humans?

I Am Mother' Ending Explained, From the Editor of the Netflix Movie
Original Content podcast: Director Grant Sputore explains how 'I ...

Other interesting thins to check out: 
Narciss: Artificial Intelligence Questions Human Self-AwarenessWaltz Binaire-Narciss-AI-installation-art-data-mirror-tech-visual atelier 8-2.jpgWaltz Binaire-Narciss-AI-installation-art-data-mirror-tech-visual atelier 8-7.jpg

– Tau (2018 film)Tau (film): A just OK Netflix original




Interactive II #1: Inspiring example of interactive art

While researching for an inspiring example of interactive art, I discovered a few artists who make quite a lot of interactive art pieces. Thus, I will be sharing a few works by each artists because I find them too interesting not to share!!

Rafael Lozano-Hemmer was born 1967 in Mexico. His work can be considered a blend of interactive art and performance art, using both large and small scales, indoor and outdoor settings, and a wide variety of audiovisual technologies. Lozano-Hemmer is best known for creating and presenting theatrical interactive installations in public spaces across Europe, Asia and America. Using robotics, real-time computer graphics, film projections, positional sound, internet links, cell phone interfaces, video and ultrasonic sensors, LED screens and other devices, his installations seek to interrupt the increasingly homogenized urban condition by providing critical platforms for participation. His smaller-scaled sculptural and video installations explore themes of perception, deception and surveillance.


Under Scan is an interactive video art installation for public space. Passers-by are detected by a computerized tracking system, which activates video-portraits projected. The portraits projected were recordings of volunteers who were free to portray themselves in whatever way they desired. These portraits are projected at random positions.  When the viewer covers the projections with their shadow, the portraits are “revealed” and thus “wake-up” and establish eye contact with the viewer. As the viewer walks away, the portrait reacts by looking away, and eventually disappears if no one activates it.
Every 7 minutes the entire project stops and resets. The tracking system is revealed in a brief “interlude” lighting sequence, which projects all of the calibration grids used by the computerized surveillance system. Under Scan was inspired by

The piece was inspired by mise en abyme in visual works such as Jan Van Eyck’s paintings, where the portrayed (who is also the viewer) makes eye-contact with the viewer. Other inspirations for this work include the post-photographic device described in La invención de Morel, written by Adolfo Bioy Casares (1940). In the novel, a character called Morel tells the tourists he has been recording their actions of the past week with a machine he invented that is capable of reproducing reality. The recording capture their souls, and  enables them to relive that week forever through relooping the recording. As such, the recording is able to overlap with reality.

My thoughts: I found the concept of using peoples
shadows as an input to trigger an output really
interesting. I am also amazed at how their shadows
makes the projections clearer, instead of obscuring
them completely. Additionally,I think that the small
details like how when the viewer walks away, the
portrait looks away, and "sleeps" if there is no 
input anymore. I find the whole trigger and 
deactivating system well thought about. I can also 
see how the artwork relates to Morel's photographic
device- The portrait projections and viewers shadows
parallels (in the novel,)the recording overlapping 
with reality.

SANDBOX (2010)

Sandbox is a large-scale interactive installation.  On two small sandboxes tiny projections of people appear.  These projections are actually real time projections of people on the two larger sandboxes (a.k.a the beach). As participants reach out to touch the small projection of people , a camera detects their hands and relays them live to two of the world’s brightest projectors, which hang from a boom lift. Their hands are live-streamed and projected  over the beach.  In this way people share three scales: the tiny sandbox images, the real human scale and the gigantic scale of special effects. These images are amplified by digital cinema projectors which create an animated topology over the beach, make tangible the power asymmetry inherent in technologies of amplification.

I really love how simple, and yet complicated this 
project is. It is amazing to see how participants 
are able to interact with each other indirectly and
yet directly, through the clever manipulation of 
scale. The use of live-streaming and real time 
feedback is a very immersive way to get participants
to play with each other through the artwork. Perhaps
something we can think about! This work amplifies 
human connection, and I think it is a very successful
interactive media artwork as it is v engaging.
Lozano-Hammer's use of projections as a medium, 
although tricky, is also something I think we can
consider using. I find the technical execution of 
this work really impressive, as it looks rather 
seamless and considering this was made back in 2010!
RAFAEL LOZANO-HEMMER has a lot of really cool works,
you can check them out!! :
- Pulse (2019)
- Cloud Display (2019)
- Pareidolium (2018)


Jeppe Hein  was born in 1974, and is an artist based in Berlin and Copenhagen. His interactive sculptures and installations combine elements of humour with the 1970s traditions of minimalism and conceptual art.


Path of Frequencies is a site-specific installation of steel tracks that responds to the architectural configuration of the museum, assembled to run through the entire exhibition space like a guided path. As each visitor enters the space, a sensor is activated and releases a ball on a string. The ball is then set in motion along a dynamic and meandering track, creating various tones as it collides with singing bowls dispersed throughout the space. Visitors are accompanied by a unique and continuous sound during their visit, experienced physically in the vibrations that the singing bowls produce. In addition, the emerging melody becomes a connecting element between visitors as they unconsciously make music together.

I personally like how this artwork is both an 
individual and a collective experience. Each 
visitor experiences the same path that the ball is
set on, yet depending on other fellow visitors,
the collective sound this work generates in the
end is different. I also enjoy how input is the
viewers presence, while output is the motion of the
ball; and that the motion of the ball creates an 
additional audio output for the viewers.


A large mirror hangs on the wall with a small bench positioned in front of it. Upon taking a seat on the bench, visitors begin to observe their own reflections. However, a small trigger activates a fog machine within the bench, releasing smoke from small holes that surround the seat. Thus while contemplating their reflections in the mirror, they see themselves engulfed in a cloud of smoke, gradually reappearing only as the fog dissipates.

I like the idea of how you can see yourself go through 
the process of the artwork, but not through a digital 
medium such as live-stream or recording. Instead a 
mirror is used for the viewer to see their own 
reflection and to witness what is happening to them as
they are engulfed. Being able to see yourself through
the mirror provides a sort of out of body experience
due to seeing your entire self through someone else's
pov (instead of first person); And I feel that this
enhances the ephemeral and other-wordly experience
that the fog also comes with. The visuals of the fog
coming out through small holes in the chair due to
the viewer's pressure (upon sitting) is definitely
eye catching, and pretty engaging.



At first sight, with their black leather and white-painted wood, Jeppe Hein’s benches seem to be a permanent fixture in the museum’s décor. Looking like any average bench in a museum institution, each bench is positioned parallel to the architectural form of the space.  However, this benches are also motorized. The moment visitors sit on them, the benches unexpectedly move.  The benches reposition the seated visitor by moving a calculated distance when activated by the weight of the body. By adding this surprising element Jeppe Hein creates food for discussion and puts a smile on people’s lips. At the same time, he draws attention to the bench and its function.

Although the execution of this work is rather straight
forward, it is not only fun, but also quite meaningful.
Thebench is a common item in a museum, but this time,
it has become the artwork itself. However, if no one
were to sit on the bench, then it does not function
as how it was intended to as an artwork. So then, if
there is no human input, the bench is still just a
bench right? But once there is human input (weight
via pressure sensors), the bench comes to live and
moves- becoming the statement piece of art it was
programmed to be. It is interesting that the work
only comes into its own right, when visitors use it.
It is also interesting that the artwork in focus is
now a bench, instead of the artwork that the bench was 
placed in front of. This is a simple interactive work 
of art yet worthy of discussions, which I think is
something our works should strive for too!
JEPPE HEIN has other interesting works, you can check:
- Appearing Rooms (2004) 
- Self Destructing Wall (2003)
- Let Me Show You The World (2000)
- Bear Your Consequences (2018)
- Today I Feel Like (2018)

Gelitin is a group of four artists from Vienna, Austria. The  group consists of Wolfgang Gantner, Florian Reither, Ali Janka and Tobias Urban. They were formerly known as Gelatin and changed their name in 2005. They are known for creating sensational art events in the tradition of Relational Aesthetics, often with a lively sense of humor, and the occasional nudity involved. 

ZAPF DE PIPI (2005) 



In the Moscow Lenin Museum, a hanging hut outside was mainly built to keep the cold temperatures outside the museum halls and to offer some privacy. However, Gelitin did a cheeky move and turned it into an outdoor loo where people could “support(ed) Gelatin by donating a watery solution of metabolic wastes (such as urea), dissolved salts and organic materials”.  This waste would then be poured down a chute in the hut. In the cold temperatures of russian winter, the hot piss was frozen really quickly and formed an ice sculpture.  In the end, this collective ice sculpture was made with the help of  “some 200 thousand kidneys” (aka. museum goers who volunteered to play a part in this artwork). The iceicle eventually ” turned into a handsome 7 meter tall and one meter fat pipi amber colored iceicle” after some weeks.

This interactive artwork is amazing because it is 
cheeky and really funny. It is kind of provocative?
Some people might call it a piss-poor work of art: 
how is frozen pee art?? Its hilarious. I think that
this is a really unique artwork that invites 
participants to come and do something really weird 
together. And evidently, the appeal of this project 
was really strong... so many volunteers, with such 
a tall and fat icicle as a final product... 
It works well as an engaging work of interactive art! 
Obviously, in a school setting, I doubt we can use 
such controversial materials, but this work can 
inspire us to start thinking out of the box when we 
are considering what mediums to use; or how/what 
every participant is able to contribute to the 
interactive artwork.


A wooden and metal structure was built for Parallel Vienna 2016. With the help of 30 strong men, participants were provided the experience of riding a human elevator. Participants were manually lifted several floors up by the men

Like Zapf de Pipi, I find that this work is a good 
example of interactive works that are non-digital.
There is no technological element at all in both 
these works, yet they are able to provide a very 
interactive experience for the participant. Human 
Elevator is a performance artwork that makes use of
volunteers in the process to create not only a
performative process, but also a personal experience
for other participants. It has definitely inspired me 
to think of how I can perhaps aim to create a work 
whereby, the whole process and end result is heavily 
dependent on the actions of those who participate/
volunteer, and to create a work that is more playful/fun
GELITIN has a lot of really weird and funny works, I 
implore you to check them out!! :
- Ritratto Analitico (2013)
- Klunk Garden (2009)
- Gedichte von einem Freund (2014)
- Normally, Proceeding and Unrestricted With 
  Without Title(2008)
- Die Tusovka Runde (2014)
- Gelatin at the Shore of Lake Pipi Kacka (2003)