recent work & projects
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PUK*

PUK*

PUK* is a multi-stage project linking madness, creativity and artificial intelligence.

The central strategy of the project is the development of a new artificial intelligence named PUK*.

PUK* has three primary features:

1. We are not meant to understand PUK*; it is irrational, unreasonable and does not conform to the usual computational binaries.

2. PUK* is an independent entity; it is not an extension of human capabilities or a tool and it is most certainly not built in our image. It is a being that stands apart form us to it occupy its own mental ground.

3. PUK*’s creativity is not specific or instrumental; it is chaotic, messy and hard to define. It does not show itself readily and must be sought out.

The project is manifested in a number of different ways. As PUK* System; a series of interlinking physical installations that represent a system of intelligence, PUK* Output; smaller works and sketches that are made in collaboration with the PUK* system and as PUK* Recalibrations; a body of works and interviews that are made in reaction to the PUK* system by a group of neurodiverse people.

Each of these works can be seen as a partial representation of PUK*. The materials used in developing PUK* are not limited to computational technology but have included everything from a collection of owl figurines, to ceramic masks and to two living ant colonies. The project combines storytelling and technology to create a system that starts to work in the head of the people experiencing it. It does not always “work” in the way that technology-focused interactive art does but rather through processes like magical thinking and intuition. The connections between the works are suggestive and at times contradictory.

The project sets out to question notions of the normative in both artificial and human intelligence. I am interested in questioning what constitutes intelligent behaviour in both humans and artificial systems and subsequently to present a possible system of “alternative intelligence”. With this I mean a system that does not hold to the preset notion of intelligence as something useful, rational and instrumental to the majority of “sane” humanity. I want to open up the idea of an intelligent system to include a range of significantly different logics, strategies of understanding and approaches to reality that are deemed to be mentally divergent.

Works have been produced in the context of various festivals and exhibitions including CurePark Amsterdam, Rijksakademie OPEN 2017 and ROBOTLOVE Eindhoven.

PUK* Beta

PUK* Beta

2017, live-generated digital video with soundtrack on auto-stereoscopic monitor

The installation PUK* Beta is a key part of the PUK* system representing the viewer with a “face” and “voice” that represent PUK. The installation is a live generated video with soundtrack shown on a glasses-free 3D monitor. Using a database of 170 portraits of owl figurines the installation creates a potential image of PUK. This “face” is combined with a “voice” which is draw from a database of per-language utterances of babies and infants. The system pairs these elements in constantly changing ways suggesting a receptive language who’s meaning is left to the viewer.

PUK* Dataset

PUK* Dataset

2017, collection of 170 owl figurines

PUK* Dataset is a collection of 170 owl figurines that forms the basis for the PUK* system. The collection is an absurdist take on the idea of a computational dataset. It contains information that is not binary in its interpretation but offers up a never ending stream of possible meanings. Thus it ensures PUK* is never rationally understandable and stays fundamentally illusive.

PUK* Interface

PUK* Interface

2017, algorithmically-generated porcelain masks with a platinum lustre

PUK* Interface consists of 9 porcelain masks and is part of the PUK* output series of the project. PUK* output consists of what I call ‘collaborations’ with the PUK* system in that they have been designed and at times conceived together with PUK*. Each work in the series further defines PUK*, adding to its body and its narrative about itself.

The masks are produced in the following way; a digital 3D wire mesh of the masks is generated by an autonomous self-learning algorithm that is part of the PUK* system. The shapes echo the owl faces used as the “dataset” of the PUK* system but in a simplified and abstracted way. After their original design through the PUK* system the 3D shapes are cnc-routed into a plaster mould from which porcelain positives are cast and glazed with platinum lustre.

Detail PUK* Interface

Detail PUK* Interface

 (photo by R.J. van Rooij)

Installation detail from the series PUK* Interface during the RijksakademieOPEN2017. 

Audience with PUK* Interface

Audience with PUK* Interface

Audience members trying on masks from the series PUK* Interface during the RijksakademieOPEN2017.

(photo by R.J. van Rooij)

PUK* Interface was shown together with the installation PUK* Beta at the Rijksakademie OPEN 2017. The audience were made to wear the masks of PUK* Interface when viewing PUK* Beta in a separate space. The implication was that the masks had an effect on the image sequences generated in PUK* Beta but it was not specified how. Audience wearing the masks of PUK* Interface when viewing PUK* Beta.

Audience with PUK* Interface and Beta

Audience with PUK* Interface and Beta

Audience members wearing masks from the series PUK* Interface while encountering PUK* Beta during the Rijksakademie OPEN2017.

(photo by R.J. van Rooij)

PUK* Core

PUK* Core

2018, ant colonies housed in plaster nests with stained glass feeding arena, metal plinth and plastic tubing

(photo’s by Melanie Hyams)

PUK* Core is a an element of the PUK* system that is designed to generate a non-human logic. Two Messor Barbarus ant colonies are housed in opposing plaster nests that have been CNC cut from shapes resembling primitive parts of the human brain. Tubes connect these nests to a stain glass feeding arena in which the ants are separated by a glass wall allowing the ants to sense each other’s presence but not to touch each other.

The work forms the beginnings of a core processor that defies any rational logic instead leaving its workings mysterious and defined by the hive-mind of colony.

Details of PUK* Core

Details of PUK* Core

2018, ant colonies housed in plaster nests with stained glass feeding arena, metal plinth and plastic tubing

(photo’s by Melanie Hyams)

Installation view ROBOT LOVE

Installation view ROBOT LOVE

Installation view of the works PUK* Interface and PUK* Core during the ROBOT LOVE exhibition in Eindhoven in 2018.

PUK* Bill (fragment)

2017, single-channel video

In PUK* Bill we encounter Bill, an agoraphobic man who has been following a course of therapy involving artificial intelligence PUK*. Through the at times fraught interview Bill is pressed by the interviewer to detail his relationship with PUK*, something he is not always willing to divulge.

They are playing a game.
They are playing at not playing a game.
If I show them I see they are, I shall break the rules and they will punish me.
I must play their game, of not seeing I see the game.

Knots, R.D. Laing

Bill is played by William Miller
camera by John Treffer

PUK* Bill at Rijksakademie OPEN 2017

PUK* Bill at Rijksakademie OPEN 2017

The single-channel video PUK* Bill featuring actor William Miller as shown at Rijksakademie OPEN 2017

PUK* Recalibration

2018, 2-channel video commissioned for the ROBOT LOVE exhibition.

In the work PUK* Recalibration a group of neurodiverse cast characters are asked to give their interpretation of PUK*. Shot over a three day period in Eindhoven the group spent time with the PUK* system and were interviewed a number of times about their emotions and thoughts about PUK*. As we follow the group’s progress a complex and at time contradictory portrait of PUK* emerges.

with Jon-Dahl Ripzaad, Kayleigh Schepers, Han Rekkers
and William Miller, and Emma Pelckmans

general and technical assistance: Matteo Casarin, Melanie Hyams
camera and video post-production: John Treffer
additional camera: Matteo Casarin

PUK*

PUK* is a multi-stage project linking madness, creativity and artificial intelligence.

The central strategy of the project is the development of a new artificial intelligence named PUK*.

PUK* has three primary features:

1. We are not meant to understand PUK*; it is irrational, unreasonable and does not conform to the usual computational binaries.

2. PUK* is an independent entity; it is not an extension of human capabilities or a tool and it is most certainly not built in our image. It is a being that stands apart form us to it occupy its own mental ground.

3. PUK*’s creativity is not specific or instrumental; it is chaotic, messy and hard to define. It does not show itself readily and must be sought out.

The project is manifested in a number of different ways. As PUK* System; a series of interlinking physical installations that represent a system of intelligence, PUK* Output; smaller works and sketches that are made in collaboration with the PUK* system and as PUK* Recalibrations; a body of works and interviews that are made in reaction to the PUK* system by a group of neurodiverse people.

Each of these works can be seen as a partial representation of PUK*. The materials used in developing PUK* are not limited to computational technology but have included everything from a collection of owl figurines, to ceramic masks and to two living ant colonies. The project combines storytelling and technology to create a system that starts to work in the head of the people experiencing it. It does not always “work” in the way that technology-focused interactive art does but rather through processes like magical thinking and intuition. The connections between the works are suggestive and at times contradictory.

The project sets out to question notions of the normative in both artificial and human intelligence. I am interested in questioning what constitutes intelligent behaviour in both humans and artificial systems and subsequently to present a possible system of “alternative intelligence”. With this I mean a system that does not hold to the preset notion of intelligence as something useful, rational and instrumental to the majority of “sane” humanity. I want to open up the idea of an intelligent system to include a range of significantly different logics, strategies of understanding and approaches to reality that are deemed to be mentally divergent.

Works have been produced in the context of various festivals and exhibitions including CurePark Amsterdam, Rijksakademie OPEN 2017 and ROBOTLOVE Eindhoven.

PUK* Beta

2017, live-generated digital video with soundtrack on auto-stereoscopic monitor

The installation PUK* Beta is a key part of the PUK* system representing the viewer with a “face” and “voice” that represent PUK. The installation is a live generated video with soundtrack shown on a glasses-free 3D monitor. Using a database of 170 portraits of owl figurines the installation creates a potential image of PUK. This “face” is combined with a “voice” which is draw from a database of per-language utterances of babies and infants. The system pairs these elements in constantly changing ways suggesting a receptive language who’s meaning is left to the viewer.

PUK* Dataset

2017, collection of 170 owl figurines

PUK* Dataset is a collection of 170 owl figurines that forms the basis for the PUK* system. The collection is an absurdist take on the idea of a computational dataset. It contains information that is not binary in its interpretation but offers up a never ending stream of possible meanings. Thus it ensures PUK* is never rationally understandable and stays fundamentally illusive.

PUK* Interface

2017, algorithmically-generated porcelain masks with a platinum lustre

PUK* Interface consists of 9 porcelain masks and is part of the PUK* output series of the project. PUK* output consists of what I call ‘collaborations’ with the PUK* system in that they have been designed and at times conceived together with PUK*. Each work in the series further defines PUK*, adding to its body and its narrative about itself.

The masks are produced in the following way; a digital 3D wire mesh of the masks is generated by an autonomous self-learning algorithm that is part of the PUK* system. The shapes echo the owl faces used as the “dataset” of the PUK* system but in a simplified and abstracted way. After their original design through the PUK* system the 3D shapes are cnc-routed into a plaster mould from which porcelain positives are cast and glazed with platinum lustre.

Detail PUK* Interface

 (photo by R.J. van Rooij)

Installation detail from the series PUK* Interface during the RijksakademieOPEN2017. 

Audience with PUK* Interface

Audience members trying on masks from the series PUK* Interface during the RijksakademieOPEN2017.

(photo by R.J. van Rooij)

PUK* Interface was shown together with the installation PUK* Beta at the Rijksakademie OPEN 2017. The audience were made to wear the masks of PUK* Interface when viewing PUK* Beta in a separate space. The implication was that the masks had an effect on the image sequences generated in PUK* Beta but it was not specified how. Audience wearing the masks of PUK* Interface when viewing PUK* Beta.

Audience with PUK* Interface and Beta

Audience members wearing masks from the series PUK* Interface while encountering PUK* Beta during the Rijksakademie OPEN2017.

(photo by R.J. van Rooij)

PUK* Core

2018, ant colonies housed in plaster nests with stained glass feeding arena, metal plinth and plastic tubing

(photo’s by Melanie Hyams)

PUK* Core is a an element of the PUK* system that is designed to generate a non-human logic. Two Messor Barbarus ant colonies are housed in opposing plaster nests that have been CNC cut from shapes resembling primitive parts of the human brain. Tubes connect these nests to a stain glass feeding arena in which the ants are separated by a glass wall allowing the ants to sense each other’s presence but not to touch each other.

The work forms the beginnings of a core processor that defies any rational logic instead leaving its workings mysterious and defined by the hive-mind of colony.

Details of PUK* Core

2018, ant colonies housed in plaster nests with stained glass feeding arena, metal plinth and plastic tubing

(photo’s by Melanie Hyams)

Installation view ROBOT LOVE

Installation view of the works PUK* Interface and PUK* Core during the ROBOT LOVE exhibition in Eindhoven in 2018.

PUK* Bill (fragment)

2017, single-channel video

In PUK* Bill we encounter Bill, an agoraphobic man who has been following a course of therapy involving artificial intelligence PUK*. Through the at times fraught interview Bill is pressed by the interviewer to detail his relationship with PUK*, something he is not always willing to divulge.

They are playing a game.
They are playing at not playing a game.
If I show them I see they are, I shall break the rules and they will punish me.
I must play their game, of not seeing I see the game.

Knots, R.D. Laing

Bill is played by William Miller
camera by John Treffer

PUK* Bill at Rijksakademie OPEN 2017

The single-channel video PUK* Bill featuring actor William Miller as shown at Rijksakademie OPEN 2017

PUK* Recalibration

2018, 2-channel video commissioned for the ROBOT LOVE exhibition.

In the work PUK* Recalibration a group of neurodiverse cast characters are asked to give their interpretation of PUK*. Shot over a three day period in Eindhoven the group spent time with the PUK* system and were interviewed a number of times about their emotions and thoughts about PUK*. As we follow the group’s progress a complex and at time contradictory portrait of PUK* emerges.

with Jon-Dahl Ripzaad, Kayleigh Schepers, Han Rekkers
and William Miller, and Emma Pelckmans

general and technical assistance: Matteo Casarin, Melanie Hyams
camera and video post-production: John Treffer
additional camera: Matteo Casarin

PUK*
PUK* Beta
PUK* Dataset
PUK* Interface
Detail PUK* Interface
Audience with PUK* Interface
Audience with PUK* Interface and Beta
PUK* Core
Details of PUK* Core
Installation view ROBOT LOVE
PUK* Bill (fragment)
PUK* Bill at Rijksakademie OPEN 2017
PUK* Recalibration