The landscape of intelligence

28th Feb, 2024Live productions

The Landscape of Intelligence is a limited-edition artist book with audio-visual display that pays tribute to the computer pioneer and mathematician Ada Lovelace.

 

This limited-edition artist book binds together a set of multi-layered prints based on drawings of machinery, punch cards, neural networks and quotes from Ada Lovelace and her mother Anabella Byron, using etching and screen-printing techniques.

The book highlighting Ada’s vision about ‘a computer making music’ is combined with film. The film consists of artistic footage inspired by the book along with music and spoken word using quotes from Ada’s lifetime animated by actors.

Charles Babbage’s Analytical Engine inspired Ada Lovelace into thinking that mathematical operations could be performed on other things besides numbers. Ada not only saw what Babbage’s Analytical Engine could do, but recognised what it could achieve, by understanding that numbers can represent anything: musical notes, letters or symbols.

Nearly 200 hundred years ago, and a century before the invention of the computer, Ada explicitly describes a machine that could compose music.

Even today, despite the recent advances in AI this has not fully been achieved. Painting Music is however closer than ever to realising Ada’s vision of a machine intelligence that can interpret visual stimuli to inspire musical composition.

 

The high-end product of this venture is a standalone audio-visual installation fit for exhibition purposes in (science) museums and galleries to explore contemporaneous acquisitions either focused on Ada Lovelace (or other pioneering women), and AI itself.

However, the book also connects to a wider project Painting Music, which explores how pioneering AI techniques can facilitate multifaceted relationships between music and visual art. The Landscape of Intelligence provides a solid foundation to Painting Music’s concept and its other production outputs of live performances, film, and AI discussion that uses explainable AI to create music from evolving painting centred around the question Is AI good or bad?.

Product specifications

The imagery in the artist book is based on 9 drawings of machinery, neural network, musical notes, and punch cards (the Jacquard loom and its punch-card design laid the foundation for computer technology inspiring Ada) and 9 quotes from Ada, her mother, tutor, and friend.

In total 5 artist books (book cover is 40cm wide x 45cm high) are created, traditionally bound with on the left a print of the drawing image and on the facing page a print of one of the quotes, interwoven with Japanese papers.

The short film shows artistic moving imagery inspired by the book, along with music and actors animating Ada Lovelace, Annabella Byron, Ada’s tutor, and friends.

Upon display the artist book lies opened within a glass cabinet along with an iPad and headphones animating the book in moving imagery and quotes of Ada’s lifetime played by actors.