DOWN TO THE HOLOGRAPH

DOWN TO THE HOLOGRAPH

2021, May 20    

video projection, 4x2m; 2021.

"The World is a Garden, An Artificial Doorhole,
The Web, down to the holograph, Magnifying Glass.
I can see it in the distance, Infinite off-the-beaten-path.
Infinite time, in which the Impossible Happened."
- GPT-2 pretrained to
Imitations of Immortality by RAY LC

Down to the Holograph is a Machine-Learning generated audio-visual experience of possibilities based on the idea of Hong Kong as a magnifying holograph for the world, a mini-garden in its infinite diversity. Video interpolation is generated using StyleGANS2 on 360 photos taken by RAY LC around Hong Kong. The musical accompaniment was generated using Google Magenta on the artist’s improvised melody. The accompanying text quoted above was generated from GPT-2 pretrained on the artist’s poetry collection Imitations of Immortality.

We no longer make works on our own. Just as the paint brush and canvas was part of the artist’s palette centuries ago, machine learning has become part of our toolkit for seeing how the world moves, hear the sounds we create, and tell us how to interpret our surroundings. Down to the Holograph immerses us in three dimensions of expression, creating a 360 view of our surroundings that constantly changes around us, showing the possibilities that we collected throughout our lives in one fell swoop.

Just as video expanded the temporal dimension of photography, and virtual reality (VR) expanded the spatial dimension of video, machine learning (ML) too expands our capability to see, as it compresses the shared knowledge in spatio-temporal dimensions to a single, potentially interactive paradigm. In this work, a summary of over 5000 360-photos of Hong Kong are summarized by ML traversing through the space of possibilities, showing us how the images we collected relate to each other. Slowly we can perceive the water dissolving into buildings as the island becomes a mountain, and then the mountain becoming a building in turn. These perceptions are reminding us of the commonalities of these scenes we observe, so that in one minute we can see the world as we saw it in one year worth of photos.

The music follows a similar pattern to the visual dimension by transitioning between timbres using the GANSynth algorithm. The original music was improvised by the artist and exported in MIDI, which can then be transformed by ML into a customized transition between different timbres. Timbres are chosen based on how they emphasize or hide different pitches, producing a traversal in auditory space analogous to the traversal happening in the 3D spatial dimension.

Down to the Holograph was presented at Osage Gallery, Hong Kong, as part of the Ars Electronica Artificial Intentionalities exhibition curated by Ann Mak and chaired by Maurice Benayoun Mak (2021). Further online exhibition was developed for Ars Electronica Hong Kong Garden.