AI expressed through Art – a collaborative project bringing research to life

22 March 2021

Dr Christopher Hobson has collaborated with artist Ashley Cullen to create a mural exploring themes related to his research in artificial intelligence (AI), offering a different way of communicating the complex concepts and emotions arising from the rapid development of AI.

Cullen’s piece is exhibited as part of a 24 visual art piece display at INSIGHT OUT – a visually stimulating and highly innovative exhibition showcasing interdisciplinary collaboration across The Australian National University. This ‘art meets academia’ project, is displayed at the university’s public art space, Exhibition Avenue, from 8 March until 7 May 2021.

Canberra-based artist Ashley Cullen’s art is defined by intensely charged portraits capturing the human experience and people at their most raw and vulnerable moments. Her collaboration with Dr Christopher Hobson channels her highly expressive style to depict some of the uncertainties that come with the development of AI. The piece illustrates a floating fish outside of a woman’s window, with a blurring of the lines between what is real and what is artificial, what is living and what is artificial.

“In a neon simulacrum of floating fish, human facsimiles and ambiguity, this mural responds to Dr Christopher Hobson’s research on artificial intelligence, exploring how advancements in the development of AI technology force us to revaluate our own humanness,” Cullen says in her artist statement.

“The collaboration with Dr Hobson touches on nascent concepts and imaginings of automated life, offering a glimpse into a future in which the border between human and artificial becomes increasingly blurred,” she continued. (Quote sourced from her Canberra Times interview)

“This was a great opportunity to think about different ways of presenting and expressing ideas from a research project I am doing on AI, which is supported by a grant from the Toshiba Foundation. AI raises really big and important questions about how we understand humanity, life, and our world. It was very rewarding to have the opportunity to collaborate with a young, talented artist like Ashley Cullen, and to see how she developed and presented these themes. The final piece is impressive, and it looks great alongside all the other collaborations presented at the Insight Out Exhibition, says Hobson.

Dr Christopher Hobson, is an academic and course convenor of the dual-degree Bachelor of Asia Pacific Affairs program in our Department of International Relations, Coral Bell School of Asia Pacific Affairs.

More about the exhibition here.

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