Enhance, Optimize, Actualize, Yourself.

These are the slogans of a culture of self-optimisation that finds its way to us through all media. While guided meditation videos propagate self-enhancement by finding oneself, Silicon Valley is dreaming of a transhumanist connecting of all minds. The self and its cognitive abilities have turned into a place for (capital) investment and (market) research. Simultaneously, scientists, big tech, and private persons are attempting to set mental capacities free. The resulting ambivalence is what is to be critically explored in ‘THE HUB’.

In cooperation with an AI-supported text generator, a suggestive text was created that resembles the re-telling of a dream journey. The flawed logic of the generator is used to create unpredictable effects that undermine the relaxing feeling of a dream journey. Towards its end, self-dissolution becomes simultaneously beautifully transcendent and frighteningly corporeal.

The text is spoken in a mild advertising voice which is then distorted, supplemented, subverted, and perverted by the music that re-contextualises sonic trademarks of esoteric, sci-fi, and psychedelic genres within an experimental electronic context. While going through vast sonic transformations, a video is shown that depicts an eternal flight through 3D-animated objects.

In the installation room several self-built grow boxes are placed, which contain psychoactive and astro-botanically relevant plants. Just like the efficiently automated systems taking care of such botany, the lights in these boxes are coordinated with the video and sound to optimise the audience's sensations.

INSPIRATION: ‘THE HUB’ is a project that deals with the entanglement of contemporary spirituality and digital technology.

HOW WE BUILT IT: Daniel, the initiator of the project, worked first with GPT-3 to write a dream journey. Through the process of feeding the AI relevant material and through machine learning, the text began to take shape. Through subsequent collaborative efforts between Daniel and GPT-3 the final dream journey text was completed. The text was then spoken and recorded by a female narrator. With this textual foundation, BOLD/COWLING began their work on the project, which consisted of creating the musical/sonic landscape to connect the spoken word to the visual elements. Simultaneously, Daniel worked with blender to create the 3D visual elements. The last stage involved truly collaborative artistic effort between the AI generated text, BOLD/COWLING, and Daniel, as the participants sought to create their truest final manifestation of the project.

WHAT WE LEARNED: We learned how to collaborate with AI in an artistic manner and to interpret its eccentricities in unforeseen ways.

BUILT WITH: MaxMSP Ableton Live GPT-3 Blender Raspberry-Pi SuperCollider

John-Robin Bold (*1995/Hamburg) and Andy Cowling (*1987/Fairmount, Indiana) are collaborating as the Hannover-based post-experimental music duo BOLD/COWLING since 2017. BOLD/COWING's debut album was released on Glenn Dancer Records in February 2021. Most recently, the duo won Musik21 Niedersachsen's KlangKunst-Call for works and presented their sound installation "Synopsis" at the 2021 Musik 21 Festival. Individually, they have released on Mille Plateaux, Quanta Records and presented work at Ars Electronica, The New Art Fest, and ZKM.

Daniel Vier (*1989/Munich) is an artist based in Hamburg. His works have been exhibited in London, Munich, Leipzig and Hamburg where he is currently finishing his Master studies at the University of Fine Arts with Prof. Anselm Reyle. He was awarded scholarships by the Christa und Nikolaus Schues Arts Foundation and the fellowship of HfbK.

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