Object Int’l —

A rock is a perfect metaphor, an allegory in volume. When placed its sculptural limits beget a kind of artistic proposition — and when considered with reduced anthropomorphism and ungeologically — produce a ready-made analog to the causation and bounds of our attempts at the understanding of all things.

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ColLABorative 2013 +

Resilient Love | Intimate Protest 2021

Online collaboration with Jacqueline van de GeerSofia Marques Ferreira

Smart HANS /2021

@ images + text by Max Haarix

Once there was a horse with an unbelievable skill. The horse was called “Clever Hans” because it could read people’s minds. The horse could guess any number you were thinking of. For example, if you had the number 84 on your mind, Clever Hans would look at you, tap its foot 84 times, and then stop.

How did Clever Hans do this? Of course, Clever Hans could not actually read your mind. But Clever Hans could analyze body postures. It saw the tension rising in your body when it started tapping, and it noticed the slight, irregular jerk of your head, when it reached your imagined number. This happened 100 years ago. Today, machines can do this too.

Clever Hans reading minds at a fair.

Our Project Smart Hans is a synthetic reincarnation of Clever Hans. The interactive installation shows an animated horse that can guess any number on your mind via posture recognition. This horse is fun to play with but it is also a manifestation of our concerns regarding Artificial Intelligence (AI).

Smart Hans is an intuitive warning about the potential threat of surveillance technology and Artificial Intelligence, which are increasingly being used in the public sphere. In a very personal way it shows the potential of AI to penetrate your most private space, your mind.

The installation manifests the “Clever-Hans-Effect”, which restricts the validity of almost any artificial neural network. Clever-Hans-Effect denominates the general impossibility to determine what a neural network actually learns respectively which data its decisions are based on.

On the other hand, if you play the game often enough, you will automatically become aware of the subtle cues Smart Hans is looking for. By purposefully suppressing or producing these cues any child can learn how to trick this AI.

Team: Anja Borowicz Richardson (UK), Bruce Gilchrist (UK), Max Haarich (Artistic Lead / DE), Martina Huynh (NL), Pekka Ollikainen (FI)

Project Smart Hans was incubated during the Deepfake Masterclass at Baltan Laboratories  in Eindhoven (NL) under guidance of Ellen Pearlman (US) and Julien Deswaef (NL) from ThoughtWorks Art  as well as Leif Czakai (NL) from Baltan Laboratories.

SEM : Socially Engineered Machine

COLLABORATORS :: Anja Borowicz + Denise Hickey + Vanessa Maurice-Williams

Drawing Parallels between the design of the Control Room, systems of social control explored in Foucault’s Panopticon and techniques proposed by Augusto Boal in the Theatre of the Oppressed, the north cabin was transformed into a site for Socially Engineered Machine. Partly menacing, partly absurd SEM attempted to remotely control behaviour of passers-by.

Viewing slits and light beams, agents and instructions, controllers and controlled are all elements of a game where the spectator chooses how far he or she wishes to participate.

Control Room, north side of Redcliffe Bridge, Bristol, UK. Supported by Bristol City Council. 2014.