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A research and production process that uses food and nutrition as a key to explore the relationship between human beings and artificial intelligence

2022 – 2023

Concept and curatorship

Art and technology


2030 GOALS

FOOD DATA DIGESTION is an artistic research and production project born out of the meeting between Play with Food and Sineglossa and some questions: if artificial intelligences are machines created to reason, express and act like humans, then how does an AI feed itself? What does he eat? The answer we gave ourselves was that the nourishment of a machine is data, but then the questions multiplied: how does the machine react to a given nourishment? Is there such a thing as toxic data? Can an artificial intelligence be intolerant?

From these questions, which are meant to stimulate an unsurprising reflection on our increasingly close and reciprocal relationship with AI, first came And We Thought, a work by multidisciplinary artist Roberto Fassone, and now the first study of Bolo, by Valerie Tameu, is born.

In the development of artificial intelligence, there are phenomena designed to be avoided.

One of these is hallucination, a scientific term used in natural language processing to define the production by machines of content that does not correspond to reality, over-interpretations perceived as distortions that do not produce the effect for which the AI was programmed.

These lysergic visions, produced by neural networks, do not seem far from those of humans, the result of altered perceptions of real phenomena. To correct them is to direct a machine (or man) toward efficiency. Instead, analyzing these ‘mistakes’ means activating a relationship with artificial intelligences that also allows us to better understand ourselves and our intelligence, to question the future of human-intelligence collaboration.

This is the setting for the And We Thought project, which has at its center an art installation created by visual artist Roberto Fassone together with creative technologist Andrea Zaninello and an Artificial Intelligence. The project was born within the program of Play with Food – La scena del cibo, with an artistic residency open to the public and a masterclass aimed at young artistз, where an unconventional use of technology is experimented with to explore the potential of altered perceptions of reality.

From the masterclass on Body, Art and AI, 8 projects were presented and among them we selected Bolo, Valerie Tameu’s research, to curate the production. Bolo is a format that lies between immersive experience and imaginative practice, an exploration of the transformative process inherent in the digestive pathway, from an ecosystemic and interrelated perspective.

If an artificial intelligence could imagine the journey of a bolus, in its infinite possibilities of transformation and existence, what would it tell? What meaning would the term “digestion” take on?

AI, fed with a vast dataset of information, not neutral but culturally given, becomes a privileged observatory to shed light on what biases and patterns of thinking it learns from our cultural context.

The stories produced by AI are condensed into a few texts, becoming rituals of transformation.

Among the references in this first study are Vandana Singh’s planet-bodies and Octavia Butler’s bodily communities, the questions posed by David Cronenberg in Crimes of the Future, and Ursula Le Guin’s subversive recipes.

The art project Bolo evolved thanks to the collaboration of creative developer Michele Cremaschi and the Free University of Bozen/Bolzano.
From Bolo it becomes Metabolo. Inspired by the ecofeminist positions of Hannah Landecker, by the science fiction and Afrofuturist novel Laguna of Nnedi Okorafor (Zona42, 2017), and using machine learning models fed by data from underwater webcams, Valerie Tameu brings planetary metabolism to the stage from a non-anthropocentric and a more-than-human perspective.
Here more details about the project research.

How does a co-creation process between a playwright and an artificial intelligence work? What will be the product of a machine trained, with a targeted choice of datasets, to produce texts for the theatre? The third act of the FOOD DATA DIGESTION project starts from these questions and from the desire of Mariano Dammacco, director and author of the Ubu Prize 2020-21 for the best new playwright text, to explore the potential of post-anthropocenic collective playwriting. The result is the first text for Italian theatre ever produced by a collaboration of this nature, a multi-voice dialogue on the possible coexistence of different intelligences on Planet Earth.

And We Thought Artistic residency
April 2022
Bodoni Bookstore – Spazio B, Turin
Artist Roberto Fassone meets with the audience to gather input to feed to Ai Lai: by suggesting the title of a song or track, Ai Lai produces a story.

And We Thought Presentation and prototyping
June 2022
Combo, Turin
And We Thought welcomes those who want to interact with AI LAI: the words provided by the machine become the cue for devising videos, performances, posters, and installations

Masterclass “Body, Art and Artificial Intelligence”
June 2022
Combo, Turin
Starting from And We Thought, lecturers Roberto Fassone, creative technologist Andrea Zaninello, and artscience designer Federico Bomba, lead a prototyping process to train participants on the possible uses of AI in live performance.

And We Thought II Exhibition
September 2022
Ars Electronica, Linz

Bolo First study
October 8, 2022
Combo, Turin
Valerie presents the immersive experience of Bolo, the project selected by the June 2022 Masterclass, a first study that will be developed in the next annual FOOD DATA DIGESTION project

And We Thought III Exhibition
February 2023
Art City, Bologna

Nexus 23 – 24, Workshop for the first Italian play written by humans and AI 
13 – 15 February 2023
Free University of Bozen-Bolzano

And we thought IV Exhibition
20 April – 9 May 2023
Nuit de la culture 2023, hosted by University of Luxembourg

Metabolo Artistic residency and first exhibition
7 April 2023
Sineglossa, Ancona
After a two days workshop with creative developer Michele Cremaschi from Free University of Bozen, artist Valerie Tameu presents the evolution of Bolo, the performative work titled Metabolo.

Metabolo Artistic residency
9 – 13 May 2023
Lavanderia a Vapore, Turin

Metabolo Exhibition
6 – 10 September 2023
Ars Electronica Festival 2023, Postcity, Linz, Austria
Valerie Tameu presents Metabolo as an installation and a live performance.
Read the news

Visit www.andwethought.it to interact with AI LAI (/Interface section) and explore And We Thought exhibitions.

Read about Psychedelic Algorithms in Kabul Magazine.

Read the curatiorial text (in italian) of And We Thought III written By Valentina Tanni.

Watch the video that explains the work and the process behind And We Thought.

Watch the video that shows the masterclass on “Body, arts and artificial intelligence”. 

Download the presentation of And We Thought | FOOD DATA DIGESTION.

Scroll through the collection of featured stories on Instagram.

FOOD DATA DIGESTION is a research and production process combining art and Artificial Intelligence produced and curated by Sineglossa.

And We Thought is a project by Ai Lai, Roberto Fassone and Led Zeppelin, produced and curated by Sineglossa, in collaboration with Play with Food and Alchemilla, promoted by Istituzione Bologna Musei /MAMbo – Museo d’Arte Moderna di Bologna, supported by Compagnia Di San Paolo. The dataset used for the training of Ai Lai comes from Shroomery.org, available in Creative Commons. 

FOOD DATA DIGESTION is supported by the Compagnia di San Paolo Foundation as part of the call for proposals “ART~WAVES. For creativity, from idea to scene” which looks at the consolidation of the creative identity of territories through the support of programming in the field of performing arts and contemporary creative production, combining research, production, supply and distribution in an ecosystem logic to strengthen the artistic vocations of the territory.

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