Threads of Assumption - CODAworx

Threads of Assumption

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Client: The premiere work was commissioned by the Goethe Institute, Boston’s Studio 170 and made possible (in part) by a Live Arts Boston grant from The Boston Foundation.

Location: Boston, MA, United States

Completion date: 2021

Project Team

Composer, Sound Artist, Co-Designer

Maria Finkelmeier

MF Dynamics

Multi-Media Artist, Weaver, Installation Co-Designer

Sofie Hodara

Poet, Spoken Word Performance, Co-Designer

U-Meleni Mhlaba-Adebo

Digital Artist, Weaver, Co-Designer

Martha Rettig

Overview

An interactive installation and performance by artists Maria Finkelmeier, Sofie Hodara, U-Meleni Mhlaba-Adebo, and Martha Rettig

This work responds to real stories about experienced bias, gathered on a virtual, anonymous conversation platform and analyzed by artificial intelligence (AI). The resulting exhibition is a visual, sonic, and tactile representation of human truths and errors. The project asks us to reconsider our assumptions surrounding bias and what we accept as normal. How can we expect machines to extract meaning from what we don’t yet understand?

Data was collected from 22 sourced conversations. Each conversation was analyzed for emotional content and thematic language and transformed, by AI, into datasets. As artists, the concept of weaving this rigid data and the human experience became essential at every turn, similar to the way tactile weavings are made, with a tense warp and threaded weft.

The exhibition is centered around an interactive, room-scale loom. The loom is surrounded by our artistic interpretations of the data, in the form of hanging weavings, video projections, and recordings of spoken word poetry and musical compositions.

Goals

The premiere of Threads of Assumption was designed specifically for the Goethe Institut, Boston's Studio 170. The juxtaposition of historic, ornate architecture and modern use inspired our articulation of AI verses human interpretation of story and experience.

Process

While Maria Finkelmeier brought the concept to the the team - how can we use AI to better understand, discuss, and evaluate gender bias - the project only took flight when the team was built. Sofie, U-Meleni, Martha, and Maria spent months designing, and three weeks building the installation in residency at the Goethe Institut.