Convergence: What Are We Converging To?

The following was written as part of a series of posts for the Canada Council Blog from guest bloggers at Convergence: an International Summit on Art and Technology, at The Banff Centre, from November 27–29, 2014.

Self-Organized Landscape #4 (Architectural Study from Video)

Self-Organized Landscape #4, 2009

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Convergence: Art, Technology, Process and Tool

The following was written as part of a series of posts for the Canada Council Blog from guest bloggers at Convergence: an International Summit on Art and Technology, at The Banff Centre, from November 27–29, 2014.

Watching and Dreaming (2001: A Space Odyssey)

Watching and Dreaming (2001: A Space Odyssey), 2014

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A Machine that Dreams: An Artistic Enquiry Leading to an Integrative Theory and Computational Artwork

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[B. D. R. Bogart. A Machine that Dreams: An Artistic Enquiry Leading to an Integrative Theory and Computational Artwork. PhD thesis, Simon Fraser University, 2014.]

What is a dream? What is the relationship between dreaming, mind wandering and external perception? These questions are at the core of this artistic enquiry. In this art-as-research practice, both arts and sciences are defined as practices that construct culturally relevant representations that function as tools exploited in our attempt to make sense of the world and ourselves. Through this research, novel contributions are made to both artistic practices and cognitive science where both are manifest in a computational system that serves as both a generative and site-specific artwork and as a computational model of dreaming — the Dreaming Machine.

Visual mentation is the experience of visual images in the mind and includes visual aspects of perception, mental imagery, mind wandering and dreaming. The Integrative Theory of visual mentation unifies biopsychological theories of perception, dreaming and mental imagery and makes three major hypotheses: Visual mentation (1) involves the activation of perceptual representations, (2) is experienced phenomenologically due to the activation of these representations, and (3) depends on shared mechanisms of simulation that exploit these representations. The Integrative Theory is the theoretical foundation of the model and artwork that generates dream imagery.

The Dreaming Machine is an image-making agent that uses clustering and machine learning methods to make sense of live images captured in the context of installation. Visual images are generated during external perception, mind wandering and dreaming, and are constructed from shared perceptual representations learned during waking. The difference between these processes of visual mentation are varying degrees of activation from external stimuli (exogenous) and feedback in a predictive model of the world (endogenous). As an artwork, the generative methods manifesting biopsychological processes create a rich diversity of imagery that ranges from abstract collage to photo-realism. The artwork is meant to facilitate the viewer’s sense of his/her own fabricated perceptions and consider the relationships between computation, cognitive models and scientific conceptions of mind and dreaming.


An Integrative Theory of Visual Mentation and Spontaneous Creativity

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[B. D. R. Bogart, P. Pasquier, and S. J. Barnes. An integrative theory of visual mentation and spontaneous creativity. In C&C ’13: Proceedings of the 9th ACM conference on creativity and cognition, pages 264–274. ACM, 2013.]

It has been suggested that creativity can be functionally segregated into two processes: spontaneous and deliberate. In this paper, we propose that the spontaneous aspect of creativity is enabled by the same neural simulation mechanisms that have been implicated in visual mentation (e.g. visual perception, mental imagery, mind-wandering and dreaming). This proposal is developed into an Integrative Theory that serves as the foundation for a computational model of dreaming and site-specific artwork: A Machine that Dreams.


Context Machines:
A Series of Situated and Self-Organizing Artworks

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[B. D. R. Bogart and P. Pasquier. Context machines: A series of situated and self-organizing artworks. Leonardo, 46(2):114–122, 2013.]

The authors discuss the development of self-organizing artworks. Context Machines are a family of site-specific, conceptual and generative artworks that capture photographic images from their environment in the construction of creative compositions. Resurfacing produces interactive temporal landscapes from images captured over time. Memory Association Machine’s free-associative process, modeled after Gabora’s theory of creativity, traverses a self-organized map of images collected from the environment. In the Dreaming Machine installations, these free associations are framed as dreams. The self-organizing map is applied to thousands of images in Self-Organized Landscapes—high resolution collages intended for print reproduction. Context Machines invite us to reconsider what is essentially human and to look at ourselves, and our world, anew.


Context Machines:
A series of autonomous self-organizing site-specific artworks.

Document

[B. D. R. Bogart and P. Pasquier. Context machines: A series of autonomous self-organizing site-specific artworks. In Proceedings of the 17th International Symposium on Electronic Art (ISEA) 2011, Sabanci University, Istanbul, Turkey., 2011.]

‘Context Machines’ are a family of site-specific, conceptual and generative artworks that capture photographic images from their environment in the construction of creative compositions. They are produced in an art-as-research practise at the intersection of generative arts, and cognitive theories of creativity and dreaming. They invite us to reconsider what is essentially human, and reflect on our constructed conceptions of ourselves.


Memory Association Machine

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[B. D. R. Bogart. The Handbook of Research on Computational Arts and Creative Informatics, chapter Memory Association Machine, pages 213–232. IGI Global, 2009.]

“Memory Association Machine” (also known as “Self-Other Organizing Structure #1”) is the first prototype in a series of site-specific responsive installations inspired by cognitive processes.  The artist provides a mechanism that allows the structure of the artwork to change in response to continuous stimulus from its context. Context is defined as those parameters of the environment that are perceivable by the system and make its place in space and time unique. “Memory Association Machine” relates itself to its context using three primary processes: perception, the integration of sensor data into a field of experience, and the free-association through that field. “Memory Association Machine” perceives through a video camera, integrates using a Kohonen Self-Organizing Map, and free-associates through an implementation of Liane M. Gabora’s model of memory and creativity.


Memory Association Machine:
Growing Form from Context

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[B. D. R. Bogart and T. Schiphorst. Memory Association Machine: Growing Form from Context. In Proceedings of the Third International Pure Data Conference, São Paulo; July 20-24, 2009, pages 1–5. Pure Data Conference 2009, 2009.]

This text is a summary of the realization and interpretation of the autonomous responsive electronic media artwork “Memory Association Machine” (MAM). Realization and interpretation are components of the creative process that braids conceptual, site-specific, electronic media art and artificial intelligence practices. MAM relates itself to its context using three primary processes: perception, the integration of sense data into a field of experience, and the free-association through that field. MAM perceives through a video camera, integrates using a Kohonen Self-Organizing Map, and free-associates through an implementation of Liane M. Gabora’s model of memory and creativity. These processes are as important as MAM’s physical appearance, are composed of computational elements, and allow the system to respond to context autonomously.


Memory Association Machine:
An Account of the Realization and Interpretation of an Autonomous Responsive Site-Specific Artwork.

PDF Document

[B. D. R. Bogart. Memory Association Machine: An Account of the Realization and Interpretation of an Autonomous Responsive Site-Specific Artwork. Master’s thesis, Simon Fraser University, 2008.]

This thesis is an account of the realization and interpretation of the autonomous responsive electronic media artwork “Memory Association Machine” (MAM). Realization and interpretation are components of the creative process that braids conceptual, site-specific, electronic media art and artificial intelligence practises. The meaning of MAM is dependent on its unique location in space and time. MAM relates itself to its context using three primary processes: perception, the integration of sense data into a field of experience, and the free-association through that field. MAM perceives through a video camera, integrates using a Kohonen Self-Organizing Map, and free-associates through an implementation of Liane M. Gabora’s model of memory and creativity. These processes are as important as MAM’s physical appearance, are composed of computational elements, and allow the system to respond to context autonomously.


“Self-Other Organizing Structure #1”
Seizures, Blindness & Short-Term Memory

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[B. D. R. Bogart. Self-Other Organizing Structure 1: Seizures, Blindness & Short-Term Memory. In Andrew Brouse, editor, Proceedings of the Second International Pure Data Conference, Montréal; August 21-26, 2007, pages 1–9. Pure Data Conference 2007, 2007.]

“Self-Other Organizing Structure #1” (SOOS1) is the first in a series of site-specific responsive installations. Rather than depending on the artist to define how these works relate to their site, the task is given to the artwork itself. The structure of the artwork changes in response to continuous stimulus from its context. Context is framed as parameters perceivable by the system that make its place in space and time unique.

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Untitled Iterations

[B. D. R. Bogart. untitled iterations. http://www.ekran.org/ben/wp/2007/untitled-iterations-vagueterrain-2006, 2004.]

Musicians create music and visual artists create images. I am becoming increasingly aware of the commonalities I share with musicians rather than other visual artists. The creative process of a sound artist or an electronic musician is very similar to my own. The fundamental basis of both what I do and what a musician does is the creation of structure, or perhaps more specifically the making of a score or program that nurtures the creation of structure. My own practice emphasizes structure (in the form of language, image, sound or even a set of related ideas) regardless of my chosen medium.

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Art in The Face of The Sublime

[unpublished, 2000]

One would imagine that the purpose of an Art education is to learn about Art theory and practice. Over my undergraduate education I have found that the more ideas I am exposed to the more I realize how little I really know. In my first few university years I thought of Art only as a form of expression and communication. I thought all Art had to have a statement, a concrete proposition to make about the world. At this point in time I don’t feel that I know enough to make concrete statements. Answers lead to questions and the more I learn the less sure I am about what truth means. My role as an artist and the purpose of Art itself becomes just as mysterious. It would seem that in order to be an art-maker one must have the answers to these questions. Perhaps the purpose of Art is the pursuit of these questions.

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