A series of automatic drawings in the Surrealist tradition, calligraphic in aesthetic but intentionally preconscious and non-representational. Each drawing is submitted to a machine learning image recognition AI which identifies what it believes the drawing shows, conferring higher or lower scores to the labels it’s familiar with.
The accompanying giclée prints pick out the particular parts of the image that prompted a particular label, thus visualising the ‘essence’ of an electric guitar, an alligator, a fountain; and all material extraneous to identifying it is erased.
Encountering them side by side, the viewer finds themselves trying to decipher the pixelated result into a meaningful depiction. The ‘tertium comparationis’ of the two images is stipulated by machine, then sought out by mind.
The title is taken from one of the books in Jorge Luis Borges’ fictional Library of Babel: ‘a mere labyrinth of letters whose penultimate page contains the phrase O Time thy pyramids’.
With many thanks to Talfan Evans (Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, University College London) for his invaluable support and advice.
I am also grateful to Yosinski et al for developing their open source ‘Deep Visualisation Toolbox’.
A recording of the talk I gave about this piece at the LDN Creative AI meetup in July 2017 is available here (37:40, courtesy of Luba Elliott).