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AI aerobes occupy Tate’s Turbine Hall in new installation

Anicka Yi: In love With the World, which opens today, sees floating machines – called aerobes after microorganisms that grow in the presence of air – floating in the Tate’s Turbine Hall, its vast space for large scale sculptures and site-specific installation art.

Originally part of the former Bankside Power Station built to house electricity-generated machinery, New York-based conceptual artist Yi’s installation populates the Turbine Hall once again with machines.

They reimagine artificial intelligence and encourage visitors to think about how machines might inhabit the world. Yi has also created unique scentscapes which change weekly with odours linked to a specific time in history of the power station.

Sitara Systems has provided the creative technology for this latest Hyundai commission and the autonomous flying machines’ physical design was created by German company Airstage.

The aerobes, inhabiting the museum’s famed Turbine Hall, are fully self-directed and interact with visitors. Sitara Systems designed the artificial intelligence that runs each machine’s virtual ‘mind,’ which helps them navigate the hall and make decisions about how to interact with visitors.

Artificial Life Simulation

“The aerobes are controlled by an Artificial Life Simulation system that provides them with context about their environment, their inner motivations, and their individual traits,” said Nathan Lachenmyer, co-founder of Sitara Systems.

“Together these factors give rise to self-directed choices that the aerobes make within an ever-changing ecosystem. The aerobes possess a unique set of senses; they use high-frequency radio waves to communicate with each other and to map out the space, and they use thermal imaging to see visitors. Their perception of the world is truly different from our own.”

Reconsidering how we view AI

The installation asks visitors to reconsider their relationship with their own minds and bodies, as well as how they encounter other beings, including those we view as ‘artificial’.

Yi hopes that by expanding our ideas of intelligence, kinship, and even ‘life’ itself, we might access new forms of compassion, empathy, and universal experience.

The exhibition runs until January 16, 2022. Entry is free with a ticket.

About the author – Adrian Murphy

Adrian is the Editor of MuseumNext and has 20 years’ experience as a journalist, half of which has been writing for the cultural sector.

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