One of Robert Twomey’s first experiments in computer art was when he trained a chatbot to converse with him as if the bot were his grandmother, whose dementia was deepening at the time. He pursued a relationship with his computer as if the computer were a loved one. Twomey is always interested in the personal human connection to technology. In this current room-sized installation, The Serious Business of Children, he has built drawing, recording, and speaking machines that continue his hand translations of found children’s drawings by mechanical means, and through words the children themselves wouldn’t have known. What does a computer see in a child’s drawing? JEN GRAVES
My new project, The Serious Business of Children is showing at Gallery 4Culture for October 2015.
Robert Twomey’s room-scale mechatronic installation, The Serious Business of Children, examines issues of meaning and expression from the oblique angle of children’s pre-language. Twomey populates his room with a number of speaking, listening, and drawing machines that communicate with one another using synthesized voices and drawings in a process of continuous translation from word to image. Audio recordings and children’s drawings are the raw material of the system. They are analyzed by computer and re-synthesized by machines. The project uses children’s early expressions as protolanguage, unintelligible in any conventional sense, but communicative in other registers.
Robert Twomey’s project was inspired by the notable American philosopher John Rogers Searle. Searle, whose expertise was in the philosophy of language, developed the “Chinese room” argument to challenge the popular idea called “strong” artificial intelligence, that it’s possible for a computer running a program to have a “mind” or “consciousness” (think Hal in 2001).
ArtBreak: Robert Twomey Saturday, March 7, 2:30 – 3 PM
Artist and UW Ph.D. candidate in DXARTS, Robert Twomey, will be exploring questions on interactive artwork and how art identity is achieved through installation and performance. Twomey has also been a vital part in creating the Field of Bullroarers in the common S E N S E. You don’t want to miss out!