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Imagination projects reality;
reality constrains imagination.

Media Arts and Technology Graduate Program Seminar Series, University of California, Santa Barbara, February 27th, 2017.

I strive to be a generalist; I am an artist who works at the edges of disciplines integrating and challenging knowledge, most recently in cognitive science. I favor a broad and integrative view of knowledge creation that rejects specialism. In the background of my work is an ongoing inquiry into the relation between the world as conceived and the world as independent of cognition. I think of subjects (imagination) and objects (reality) as mutually constructive; as subjects we project and impose categories on objects, while objects’ physical reality as independent of cognition constrains and challenges those categories. I use computational systems to examine the power struggle between subjects and objects. I build machine subjects that manifest categorization processes (unsupervised clustering algorithms) that suppress variation in order to emphasize sameness. My machine subjects categorize, organize and reduce the infinite complexity of sensory reality. In doing so they participate in a process of abstraction that breaks sensed reality into atomic particles that serve as the material from which novel images are constructed. These ‘mental’ images are of the world—their mechanisms uncover underlying statistical truths about reality as independent of cognition, but they are also of us—they are projections of bounded subjective understanding. In this talk I will introduce the conceptual context for my work and present a survey of selected computational works including “Dreaming Machines”, “Self-Organized Landscapes”, “Watching and Dreaming”, “As our gaze peers off into the distance, imagination takes over reality…” and current work in development.