program 2022

I used to be a table

Nicole Hewitt, Vida Guzmić, Ivan Slipčević
Vida Guzmić is a visual artist working in video, sound and text. She completed her MA in New Media at the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb in 2012 and completed Women’s Studies at the Center for Women’s Studies as well as the Curatorial Platform programe in 2013. Her work has been exhibited in Croatia and Europe and she has held residencies at V2_Summersessions Test Lab, V2_Institute for unstable media in Rotterdam, KulturKontakt Austria in Vienna and fellowships at WHW academy in Zagreb and Ashkal Alwan, HWP, Beirut. Her work explores the relations between objects and subjects, gendered geography and representation through screen technologies. She works both as a solo artist and in numerous collaborations and engaged practices. From 2012-2018 she has been a member of the multidisciplinary art collective Space is Tactics. She organizes numerous audio/video workshops for young women, Roma and non-Roma school children through Studio Pangolin and is part of the collective Soundspiels with Nicole Hewitt and Ivan Slipčević.
Nicole Hewitt is a visual artist working in film, video, installation, performance and text. Hewitt completed her MA in Fine Art Media at the Slade School and gained her PhD in Fine Art also at the Slade School of Fine Art in 2013. Her work has recently been concerned with memory, history and narrative as mediated through technologies of representation and preservation. She has recently completed a long tem episodic series of performance/texts ‘This woman is called Jasna’ and is now continuing her research into history and forms of archaeology in a film project Women Minor Speculations. Hewitt teaches at the New Media Department of The Academy of Fine Arts, University of Zagreb.Lives and works in Zagreb and London.
Ivan Slipčević is a visual and sound artist working in film, photography, video and sound. Slipčević completed his MA in Cinematography at the Academy of Dramatic Art of the University of Zagreb, Croatia. He has been an active member of the Multimedia Institute MAMA in Zagreb since 2000 and started the studio for sound and image zvukbroda with Tomislav Domes. He has been involved in numerous multimedia perfromances, produced electronic video scenography at numerous festivals (Videolux, Ljubljana; media.mediteranea, Pula; Urbani Festival, Platforma 981, Sloboda stvaralaštvu, Illectric funk, Zagreb; Festival Vizualnih komunikacija, Maribor; Contact Europe, Austrija; clubtransmediale, Berlin, etc.) He has been director of photography on a number of independent productions (Deturs, Galeb Vekić, Plac, A. Hušman; Booksa this is the way step inside; K. Rubinstain, Ručak, A. Hušman; In time, Nicole Hewitt, Zagrebačke priče, I.Ramljak. M.Škobalj, Sve je povezano, Lala Raščić, Oslobođenje u 26 slika, I.Ramljak. M.Škobalj …). Slipčević teaches photography and new media technology at the Department of New Media and Animation at the Academy of Fine Art University of Zagreb. Slipčević is a member of the sound collective Soundspiels.
The English word secretary originally was a piece of furniture for writing and hiding sensitive documents, using the idea of the secret as a trigger we imagine what Siri, Alexa, Cortana … all models of assistance dream of, speak of when unasked for support.
Inspired by the theories of Kate Crawford about the entangled past of digital and physical secretaries we are developing our research into machine learning, using algorithms and data sets to produce text and voice and our working on a Croatian voice model using Nicole Hewitt’s voice to train the machine. The texts and sounds are generated using multiple processing methods, online translations, wordnet data bases, google translate and text to speech programmes, the texts are then processed as synthesised material and further processes to produce sound. All the voices in the performance are sythesised, the images are a combination of found footage and machine learning image processing, screened on motorised and rotating screens, as well as text displays.
The project works with analogue and digital processes including dreams and the unconscious, and trying to imagine what artificial intelligence might dream of. Taking as its starting point the idea of the listening woman, the secretary both human and digital, the assistant, the digital assistant we try to give voices to the women who gave their voices to text to speech technologies. We encounter them and address them by their names, Goga, we also create our own voice models through training sets for text to speech. We produce narratives around their possible interactions.
The performance is based on blind composition, so we never know exactly what files are playing, what sounds are being created and what texts are being voiced. The sinsets we use are based on the most simple of differentiation and often result in ambiguous, frequently racist and sexist values. We work with a sentient lexicon that attaches simple positives and negatives to nouns. Newer algorithms are trying to not only produce polarised sentiments i.e. ‘panic – minus’, ‘ achieve- plus’ but are working to develop a prediction of sentiment intensity.
In deep learning Wave net examples we can hear voice models producing sounds without making language, sounding as if in a trance of their own. Depending on how a model has been trained, the model will predict the correct enunciation, tone and pitch which allows us to train a model in the future on non-linguistic voicings for example crying, moaning, laughing, mumbling. In our visuals we therefore also work with GANs, and machine learning image processing techniques as well as found footage to present ecstatic women, women unconscious, or delirious, or those who hear and see and predict, for example Joan of Arc.
What does ecstasy sound like in artificial intelligence, what does a machine hallucinate?