“YOU AND AI: THROUGH THE ALGORITHMIC LENS” is a three-week festival exploring how algorithmic systems are constructed and defined, and by whom, and how they impact and reshape society and our perception of the world. The festival includes an exhibition at Pedion tou Areos in Athens, as well as online experiences, conversations and participatory sessions on artificial intelligence, creativity and ethics.
"YOU AND AI" is an exhibition that explores artificial intelligence not as some future potentiality but as a present-day reality. From social media platforms using algorithms to select the content we see and hear, not to mention our friends and where we go out, to digital maps that suggest places for us to go and how to get there, to predictive text on our mobile devices that completes our sentences for us, writing along with us, artificial intelligence is now to be found on our very bodies.
The "YOU AND AI" Festival – presented at Pedion tou Areos Park from June 24 to July 18, 2021 – consists of 25 works that examine three topics corresponding to three routes through the exhibition. Namely: how we view artificial intelligence, and how it views us; artificial intelligence as a key factor shaping public space, political process, and today’s democracy; and artificial intelligence as a constituent part of – and substitute for – the natural environment. The exhibition is structured in a way that allows visitors to encounter works through a process of curated serendipity: having the works – in the main large-scale HD screens, 3D sculptures, and installations – nestled within the park’s vegetation, and accompanied by soundscapes that activate when spectators / listeners approach specific points, means that the natural and the artificial, the familiar and the unfamiliar, the digital and the physical, the accidental and the intentional all enter into dialog to create an accurate expression of the experiences that artificial intelligence has brought into our lives.
The venue we selected for the Festival is Pedion tou Areos Park. This was no accident. As a public garden, it constitutes a space that is natural but also artificial; it takes physical form but constitutes a social construct; and it is itself alive – as a community of PEOPLE and a public space. Artificial intelligence – an eminently technological mode of expression – is our new natural habitat, constantly mediating digital public spaces via social media platforms, as well as physical public spaces via applications that offer navigation, delivery, lodging, and ride-hailing. It feeds off the digital traces left behind as PEOPLE move through a city, work and chat, even fall in love. Furthermore, Pedion tou Areos (meaning “Field of Ares”) was once an army training ground that became a place for recreation, whereas artificial intelligence – which also sprang from military applications – started out in the social networking sphere and ended up being used as an instrument of power and coercion.
But above all, Pedion tou Areos Park constitutes the heart of a new ATHENS – a multicultural Athens brimming with diverse COMMUNITIES – but also a place where public space is being discovered anew, where young PEOPLE are being brought together with older citizens, and where the digital encounters the physical, public meets private, and artificial intelligence connects with each of us.