The platform inhabited by "living" avatars, based on the information from your social networkCreate Your Rabbit
21 June - 5 September
Futures of Love
Contemporary Art Festival
"RABBIT HEART" is an interactive platform inhabited by "living" avatars. Avatars are based on the information from social networks. Its members are users who have agreed to give their personal data to the project. The algorithm analyzes the profile information of the user (most commonly used words, phrases, geotags, and photos), as well as neural networks of different orders. As a result, it constructs an animated avatar in the form of an anthropomorphic rabbit. On the one hand, it resembles a popular social networks photo filter, on the other hand it refers to the famous character of the "looking-glass" by L. Carroll.
The project consists of a two-part installation. First is the identification zone of the project participants, from where they are transformed into the second part, a video projection of the digital "glade." A place where avatars-rabbits live and communicate. Another important element of the «RABBIT HEART" is a telegram-bot. It informs everyone about its virtual clone life: the digital characters the avatar communicates with, quarrels, and start or develop the relationships.
The artist is interested in the phenomenon of the oncoming total virtualization. The idea that our life is closely intertwined with the space of social networks and interactive applications. While the "big data" can reveal almost everything about us. Anticipating the theories of futurists, in the near future humanity will completely move into one giant digital cloud, the artist creates a micro-model of the world. The space that inhabits our immortal clones, whose DNA is based on data voluntarily left by us on the Internet.
Create Your Rabbit
You can experience 'RABBIT HEART' by either visiting the installation or using the app that is being finalized right now.
We’ll email you as soon as the app is ready.
Developer of Telegram-bot
Professor of Computer Science, the City University of New York
RABBIT HEART creates a very playful and engaging experience and at the same time offers serious reflections on some of the important issues in the emerging "AI culture." This combination of playfulness and seriousness is not easy to maintain, but the project is able to deal this tension quite well. Technically, it adopts the popular games engine to present a 3 world that in some ways reminds us of Sims (first version released in 2000) – a "simulation of daily activities of virtual people in a suburban household." In Rabbit Heart, the installation visitors become the actors in the simulation, and the level of control they can exercise over their avatars is reduced in comparison to the original Sims. This reduction can be read as a commentary on the progression of AI automation in our society, and the coming promise of delegating lots of our activities to AI bots or other algorithmic technologies. In the project we are even delegating meeting, dating, and having sex. The projection of our faces into 3D figures of rabbits brings strong emotional charge to the experience absent from the sims games genre.
In the original vision of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in 1950s-1960s, the goal was to teach a computer to perform a range of cognitive tasks. In this vision, a computer would simulate many operations of a single human mind. They included playing chess, solving mathematical problems, understanding written and spoken language, recognizing content of images, and so on. Sixty years later, AI has become a key instrument of modern economies used to make them more efficient and secure: making decisions on consumer loans, filtering job applications, detecting fraud, and so on.
Besides original AI tasks such as playing chess, recognizing objects in a photo, or translating between languages, computers today perform endless "intelligent" operations. For example, your phone keyboard gradually adapts to your typing style. Your phone may also monitor your app usage and performing processes in the background to save battery. There are dozens of such not very glamorous but intelligent operations at work in phones, computers, the web servers, and other parts of IT universe. So, in one sense, AI is now everywhere. While some AI roles attract our attention because they seem to compete with our social lives – such as Google AI generating email answers (as of 11/2017, this accounts for 10% of all answers in mobile Inbox app) – many others operate in the grey every day of the digital society.
The original vision of AI was about automation of cognition. Despite the difference in scale, super-cognition still follows this paradigm. But what maybe is less obvious is that AI now plays an equally important role in our cultural lives and behaviors, increasingly automating the realm of the aesthetic creation and behavior. Consider, for example, image culture. Instagram Explore screen recommends images and videos based on a combination of many factors including what we liked in the past. Artsy.net recommends contemporary artworks similar to the one you are currently viewing. All image apps can automatically modify captured photos according to the norms of "good photography." Other apps "beatify" selfies. Still other apps can automatically edit your raw video to create short films in the range of styles. The Roll app from EyeEm automatically rates aesthetic quality of your photos. Google designed a system that mimics the skills of a professional photographer such as selecting a photo suitable for editing, cropping, and applying filters. Huawei Mate 10 phone camera (released 10/2017) uses AI to analyze what it sees all the time, classifies into one from a number of scene types, and selects appropriate parameters for photography, even before you may decide to take a photo.
These examples raise many questions. The job is the artist is not to answer them, but to make us think about the issues involved and ask more questions. Rabbit Heart is a mature, subtle and sophisticated project that does it very well.
Curator, art critic and modern art theorist, teacher of the media-theory course in Rodchenko Art School
The project is based on neural network and it's supposed to be developed seriously in future. Meanwhile just a part of possibilities is involved.
The introduction part – is the simulative censoring authority which performs the registration and identification functions and regulates access to the project that at the moment is a smart mix of game, installation and social network.
The central and the most spectacular element of the project (which you never find in social networks neither in real games) is the audience space that is at the same time the space for possible communication. This real space made for performative screen installation and viewers relaxation is felt like it's not physical enough. It links different ontological statuses and communication regimes.
Hybrid ontology of this space is interwined of physical presence of the viewer himself, of his digitized reality performed by the rabbit on the screen and of the viewer's emotional mediation of various regimes of his avatar. All this brings the digital situations back to materiality which adds double-meaning to the space.
Two spaces radically opposed to each other in terms of its relation to a subject are combined in this installation. The one is disciplinal space for identification and censoring while the other is organized in opposite way – it's playful and conditional space for the free manifestation of identity but ignoring identification. So the viewer finds himself in a hybrid reality in many senses at the same time. On top of that the audience space (either for the game, or for cinema audience hall) makes the viewers closer to each other but in some negative freakish way – with a feeling of light and comfort mutual inconvenience. It occurs because animated and recognizable avatar appears on the screen at the same time as its owner is in the audience space, and the avatar is rabbit at the same time, it is autonomous and socializes easily in one of four available manners – friendship, love, sex and fight.
Sometime rabbits get married – then all the avatars take part in a celebration. The overlapping of behavior patterns with real emotions produces a spectrum of unpredictable storylines and scripts. Let's say if avatars of two orthodox fundamentalists decide to get married then most probably Natasha's project will get unintended political dimension, and whole the subject will get surrealistic development. The avatar's activity on the screen is affectively lived through by its relaxed owners and it continues even afterwards when the viewer leaves the space. At the exit the viewer gets the password for communication with personal chat-bot that looks after the avatar and sends information about changes in its virtual life to the owner.
In other words, the contemporary strategy of delegating of different functions to bots of various kinds is realized here. It's long now that bots do cope successfully with simple regular actions which our daily life is formed of. And here we see how the not evident function of active social life support is performed, which protects our inner peace and excusable asociality. Here we can say that we see the triumph of interpassivity.
When the rabbit's life becomes especially intense and the changes become especially intriguing, the owner can materialize the simulation – he can message or call new friends of his avatar because they are real people - and probably they'll turn out to be not less communicable and free than their neuro network rabbits.