The Seeker

(Image: Artificially Intelligent display ©Victoria and Albert Museum)

”The Seeker” is a machine entity – a proto-AI – which travels the world virtually, and describes what it sees. The project explores ideas of the emergent machine gaze and the hidden virtual power structures behind it.

The Seeker travels the internet looking through compromised surveillance camera eyes and uses the latest image recognition technology to interpret these visions. Named for Ptah-Seker, the artist/technologist god of the Ancient Egyptians, who created the world by speaking the words to describe it, this project looks at how the act of describing the world might establish a whole new worldview for machines and humans alike.

The Seeker is an exploratory, data-generating system. Thompson analyses its output and uses this to create further physical outcomes (artworks) such as the giant ‘drawing’ “Words That Remake The World”. This piece contains all the words and concepts that The Seeker has used to describe what it saw in the tens of thousands of locations it has ‘visited’.

Words That Remake The World, Open Codes 2, ZKM, Germany. Image credit: ZKM
Words That Remake The World, Open Codes 2, ZKM, Germany. Image credit: ZKM

With accelerating advances in Machine Learning/Artificial Intelligence image recognition and object identification software, an entirely new way of seeing the world is evolving. One where the relationship between viewer and viewed will be transformed, and everything seen is objectified. This evolving machinic visual landscape will become codified within the DNA of future intelligent systems and AIs. What are the machines learning to find worthy (or unworthy) of their visual attention?

The Seeker's Visions (Master spreadsheet), 2018
The Seeker’s Visions (Master spreadsheet), 2018

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