Content Aware Studies Series, Egor Kraft. Installation view at Alexander Levy Gallery, Berlin, 2019. Image courtesy of the artist.
Content Aware and Other Case Studies
Egor Kraft (interdisciplinary artist and researcher)
2022 NECS Online Lecture (4/5)
April 19, 2022
The use of machine-learning in historical analysis and reproduction as a scientific tool brings to the forefront ethical questions of bias contamination within data and automation of its analysis.
Via the examples of various confusing para scientific interventions, including AI-based Voynich Manuscript decrypt as well as artistic investigation such as the speculative series Content Aware Studies, the paper examines the various sides of this inquiry and its consequences. It also looks into material repercussions of objects as synthetics documents of emerging machine-rendered histories. The nature of those objects is approached with a new materialist toolkit. The questions in focus of this text are what are the ethical, philosophical, and historical challenges we’re facing when using such automated means of knowledge-production and investigation? What epistemics do such methodologies hold by uncovering deeper and sharply unsuspected new knowledge or instead by masking unacknowledged biases?
The series Content Aware Studies is one of the key case studies as it addresses capacities and risks of machine-learning technologies as means for automation and augmentation of historical and cultural analyses, museology, and instruments for speculative restoration not only within historical and archaeological contexts but also in contemporary applications across machine vision and sensing technics, such as, for example, LiDAR scanning. On the other side, these outputs provide a case study for critical examination through the lens of cultural sciences of potential misleading trajectories in knowledge production and epistemic focal biases that occur at the level of the described above applications and processes. Preoccupied with warnings and ontologies around biases, authenticities, and materialities it seeks vividly to illustrate them.
As data in this text is seen as crude material and building blocks of inherent bias, the new materialist framework helps address these notions in a non-anthropocentric way, while seeking to locate the subjects of investigations as encounters between non-organic bodies. In the optics of a non-human agency of the AI-investigator, what of our historical knowledge and interpretation encoded into the datasets will survive this digital digestion? How are historical narratives, documents, their meaning, and function perverted when their analysis has been outsourced to machine vision and cognition? In other words, what happens to historical knowledge and documentation in the age of information-production epidemic and computational reality-engineering?
Interdisciplinary artist and researcher Egor Kraft lives and works in Moscow & Berlin. Egor was educated in Rodchenko School, The Academy of Arts Vienna, Central St. Martins College and ‘The New Normal’ program at Strelka Institute. His work concerns itself with the epistemics of human and non-human agencies, speculative models and domain ontologies of information systems. He participated in the 2nd and 5th Moscow Young Art Biennials, Ural Industrial Biennial, Ars Electronica, WRO Biennial, Impakt, Open Codes at ZKM, group shows at MAXXI, Onassis Foundation, Hermitage and other shows internationally. Egor was nominated for such awards as Lumen, Re_Humanism, Kandinsky, Pulsar, Innovation and Kuryokhin Prizes. In 2017 he was included in the New East 100, a list of people and projects shaping our world today by Calvert Journal. In 2019 He became a STARTS residency research fellow at the University of Southampton and a Garage Museum Art & Technology Grant recipient.
The Lecture will take place on Zoom, on April 19, 2022, at 18:00 CET (www.thetimezoneconverter.com).
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