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Silent Chaos

Silent Chaos Human AutomatArt – DataSphere – Edinburgh Science Festival 2022

The Human AutomatArt project was originally due in May 2019 for the Look Again Festival, co-commissioned by Aberdeen Performing Arts and New Media Scotland‘s Alt/w Fund with investment from Creative Scotland, but then sadly postponed because of the lockdown. It has been live on Aberdeen’s Music Hall‘s large screen from the 1st until the end of November 2021, and it’s about to be showcased at the Datasphere exhibition at the Edinburgh Science Festival in April 2022.

In the present world, every human being has become a living set of data, and potentially a content creator. With Human AutomatArt, we transformed Aberdeen’s Music Hall into an information collector, gathering data from the human activities occurring there, via movement detection, sound and temperature sensors, whose data are generating the digital painting on the screen. Doing so, the unaware human beings become the autonomous agents whose behaviours create the structure for the generative art program, and the human life and related activities as a whole become the painting artist.

The project’s name Human AutomatArt is a mixing of the words-concepts Human, Cellular Automata and Art. Using the logic at the root of AI programming, we want to humanise this process, using the human beings as “cellular automata”, independent unities with different behaviours which interact with their environment and can generate an interesting emergent complexity, which is going to create a complex piece of visual art.

The idea flourished while we were reasoning around the digital world and the importance of data, and how to let interact the real-life analog world with the digital one in an artistic way. The use of sensors was the obvious choice.

We imagined transforming the Music Hall into a living harvester of data: using a webcam as a movement detector, an Arduino board with a temperature sensor, and an audio connection from the main hall, all connected via Ethernet cables to the main computer, we collect all those data that are driving the behaviour of the generative art program made in TouchDesigner.

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