Sensing the Synthetic:
Exploring the Role of Affect and Human Embodiment in AI-Media Synthesis
PRESENTATION: THURSDAY – 20 April, 2023, 14:45 @ University of Applied Arts Vienna
This presentation focuses on the importance of incorporating the human body into the co-creative process of AI-media synthesis. Among artists working with AI, the term “co-creation” has been established to describe the collaborative nature of AI-driven media synthesis and human-AI interaction. However, “co-performance” seems to be more appropriate, as AI-media synthesis is a performative negotiation between human bodies and AI algorithms. New forms of collective performativity emerge from creative interactions between human physicality and AI, where embodiment plays a significant role. But how to approach this new form of performative co-creation?
Human creativity can be translated into the generated outputs only partially, if human participation is limited to creating a single text prompt or by the presets of AI generative tools. The spectacularity of generated outcomes overshadows the unbalanced participation of involved actors in the co-creation. On the other hand, over-prioritizing human agency in human-AI co-creation and downplaying AI as a mere intelligent brush misses the exciting new possibilities of this human-non-human co-creative interplay. How to meaningfully preserve the human aspect in AI media synthesis, so that it is not seen merely as a Victorian ornament on an industrial machine?
Focusing on the unconscious bodily ways of doing and the affect that emerges during human-AI co-creation offer potential solutions to this problem. By revisiting the idea of affect as a plausible “interface between the digital information domain and bodily human experience” (Hansen, 2003), this talk proposes the direct use of the affect as an interface for creative AI algorithms. Through its direct use, the human body can enter AI-media synthesis without conceptualization and create the missing bridge between human and AI actors in the otherwise exclusively digital workflow.
The artistic research presented here seeks to make sense of the place of human agency defined by direct bodily experience in co-creation in a network of human and non-human actors, embodied and disembodied actors, and opens up new perspectives on human-AI collaboration as a new form of performative artistic practice.
Hansen, M.B.N. (2003) ‘Affect as Medium, or the `Digital-Facial-Image’’, Journal of Visual Culture, 2(2), pp. 205–228. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1177/14704129030022004.
Lenka Hámošová, MDes. is a Prague-based artist, designer, and researcher who explores the implications and creative potential of AI-driven media synthesis. She focuses on the participatory nature of human-AI co-creation and its connection to human imagination and embodiment. Lenka is currently pursuing her PhD studies at the Film and TV Faculty of the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague (FAMU).
In her artistic and research practice, Lenka combines artistic research with participatory workshops and visual research methods to engage artists, designers, theorists, and computer scientists in interdisciplinary dialogue and speculative brainstorming. She initiated the participatory project “Collective Vision of Synthetic Reality,” which includes an educational deck of cards featuring categorized AI/ML models used in the production of synthetic media. She is also a founding member and curator of the Uroboros Festival, a festival of socially-engaged art and design. Lenka holds a Master of Design from the Think Tank for Visual Strategies at the Sandberg Institute Amsterdam.