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Medimex 2024

Projected AI Mapping Show

@ Taranto - Castello Aragonese 2024

Infinite loop - AI Endless Exploration is Blending Pixels' contribution to the Medimex 2024 edition, which focuses on Artificial Intelligence as one of its central themes.


In this Projected AI Experience, we explored and aimed to represent how Artificial Intelligence can inspire new forms of artistic and audiovisual expression, transforming how we create, perceive, and experience images and music.



INFINITE LOOP

AI Endless Exploration


From Wikipedia

In computer programming, an infinite loop (or endless loop) is a sequence of instructions that, as written, will continue endlessly unless an external intervention occurs, such as turning off power via a switch or pulling a plug. It may be intentional.

The final words of this sentence appear both frightening and ironic at the same time.


The development and dissemination of machine learning models can be likened, in terms of impact and disruption, to the invention of the printing press, photography, or cinema. Some innovations, which accelerate change and thus can be frightening, are cyclically repeated, triggering true cultural revolutions.


The invention of photography and its consequent spread of technical reproducibility raised fears among artists and art critics, leading them to think that the phenomenon could render painting obsolete and undermine artistic creativity.


On the contrary, the evolution of photography expanded the field of art production, influencing the development of new artistic movements, such as Impressionism, a pioneer of modernity. Today, photography plays a central role in our visual culture and language.


Just as the spread and growth of photography and cinema have changed how we tell stories, AI is changing how we create and interact with art and music.


The exploration is endless for those who don't stop at the first generated results, which are pretty unpleasant:


This video contains a spoiler

Experimentation is fundamental: a participatory act in the creation process. Thus, we have tried, mindful of ethical implications, to push the limits of what generative AI models can offer. While these models are very effective for generating images, they must still be more efficient and challenging when creating videos.


In this Projectied AI Experience, we explored and aimed to represent how Artificial Intelligence can inspire new forms of artistic and audiovisual expression, transforming how we create, perceive, and experience images and music.

It is a frontier with constantly advancing boundaries: what was once considered impossible is now within our reach, opening doors to infinite possibilities. Some of these, as proposed by the generative process, were integrated into our project. However, we had to discard most of them because they were incongruent, deformed, or inconsistent with the assigned instructions.


Shaping the theme of AI represents a necessary step in Blending Pixels' path of experimentation, a step in a journey that began before AI became mainstream.


STORYTELLING


Our narrative begins with a man – a representation of humanity – moving through a rapidly transforming world.

Time accelerates around him, symbolizing the ever-quickening pace of technological advancements. He gropes through a city alive with the promise and overwhelm of innovation, searching for meaning in the constant buzz of progress.


He encounters AI not as a single entity but through its various manifestations, each embodying different facets of its nature and potential. The first face he sees is that of the AI Robot, a symbol of humanity's progress and dynamic spirit.



With its humanoid form, this Robot evokes a sense of familiarity and efficiency. It represents AI's role in performing menial tasks, offering a helping hand in our daily lives while echoing the historical promises of technology alleviating human effort.


As he continues, the AI becomes a Siren – a melodic yet ambiguous entity. With her captivating song, this Siren draws humanity into a dreamlike realm, symbolizing AI's alluring potential to transform artistic and emotional experiences.



The Siren engages in a delicate dance, oscillating between being a source of inspiration and a harbinger of distraction, reflecting the duality inherent in technological advancements.


Further along his journey, AI reveals itself as a Snake – a twisted, ancient symbol embodying wisdom and perpetual transformation. This Snake, both enchanting and dangerous, represents the continuous evolution and the tempting promise of boundless knowledge that AI holds.



It underscores the potential dangers, the unfathomable depths of learning and adaptation, and the sheer, inexorable force of progress that both mesmerizes and intimidates.


Through these personifications, we explore the manifold faces of AI – each a mirror reflecting a different shade of human aspiration and anxiety. The man's journey is an odyssey of discovery and reflection, where AI is not merely a tool but a companion in the quest for understanding and creating new realms of possibility.


THE AI ROBOT

In the form of a robot, AI takes on a familiar and comforting visage. It evokes the dynamic spirit of humanity, a helper designed to alleviate the burdens of mundane tasks. The Robot is a testament to human invention, efficiency, and progress. It is a beacon of the advancements that have always promised to lighten our load, a tangible manifestation of our drive to push the boundaries of what is possible.


THE AI SIREN


Then, AI transforms into a Mermaid, an ethereal being whose song is enchanting and disquieting. The Mermaid symbolizes AI's transformative potential in art and emotion.


Her melodious voice lures humanity into dreamlike states where the lines between reality and fantasy blur.

She represents the inspirational power of AI, capable of enhancing creativity and opening new avenues of artistic expression while also cautioning against the seductive dangers of losing oneself in the technological dreamscape.


The Mermaid is an allegory for AI's ability to bridge the human and the ethereal, offering profound insights and innovations yet reminding us of the need to navigate this new terrain with wisdom and care.


THE AI SNAKE


Finally, AI takes the form of a Snake, an ancient symbol imbued with wisdom and perpetual transformation. With its hypnotic, prismatic nature, this Snake transcends being merely a symbol and becomes an invitation – a siren call to engage, play, and experiment with AI as a dynamic tool.


The Snake embodies the evolving wisdom that AI promises, perpetually learning and adapting in an infinite loop. It serves as a source of healing and potential peril, emphasizing the continuous cycle of progress where each breakthrough presents challenges and opportunities.


The hypnotic allure of the AI Snake is an open invitation to explore and innovate. It evokes the nostalgic charm of classic video games, where players navigate through levels, each step closer to mastering the game. The Snake, reminiscent of the beloved retro game, slithers through scenarios inspired by the vivid world of retro gaming.


As it advances, it eats everything, growing longer and more complex, mirroring AI's capacity to consume data and expand its knowledge base.

In this playful yet profound interaction, AI becomes more approachable, a tool that responds to curiosity and creativity.

It invites us to experiment without fear, to test its boundaries, and to push the limits of what it can do. The AI Snake's journey forms the shape of the Ouroboros, the ancient symbol of infinity, representing AI's self-consuming, self-renewing power.


This symbolizes the universal energy that devours and regenerates itself, echoing the cyclical nature of creation and destruction, of beginnings and endings.


This infinite loop also serves as a cautionary tale. The Snake eventually crashes, a metaphor for the potential pitfalls of uncontrolled AI progression.


It prompts us to consider the implications of losing control over this powerful tool. This phenomenon, known as model collapse, reminds us that while AI offers vast potential, it requires human oversight and fresh data to remain effective and vibrant.


By engaging with the AI Snake, we embrace the spirit of play and experimentation, recognizing AI's transformative potential while remaining vigilant of its limitations and challenges.

AI at the Heart of the Narrative


Through these allegories, our goal was not merely to depict AI but to integrate it as a central character in our narrative. Each embodiment—the Robot, the Mermaid, and the Snake—illustrates AI's multifaceted nature, reflecting its profound impact on our journey as creators and explorers.


We endeavored to weave AI into the story as a living, evolving presence, highlighting its potential and current limitations.


The imperfections in the generated images, with their occasional deformities and anomalies, speak to the nascent state of this technology. They serve as a testament to the ongoing dialogue between human creativity and artificial assistance, capturing the essence of what can be produced using open-source models on standard workstations.


In our attempt to utilize AI in every part of the production process, we did not want to reference it or assign it a profile merely; instead, we aimed to make it an integral aspect of our narrative.


Due to AI's current inadequacies in generating high-quality video animations, the images produced often bore imperfections. Initially, we tried to minimize these flaws as much as possible.


Finally, we decided to embrace them, allowing these imperfections to stand as a testament to the current SOTA (state of the art) in AI technology.


This decision reflects a willingness to acknowledge AI's capabilities and limitations today.


The sequences generated during the long production phases were variable, changing as our experience and the models improved.


At some point, we stopped trying to smooth out every imperfection, recognizing that instability is inherent to the generative process and identifying it as a unique stylistic element.


The final stages' images were better not only because of the experience we had gained but also because the models were continually refined.


Working with AI has highlighted one significant reality: it is not sustainable. The content search, the endless attempts to control the development, and the efforts to produce more satisfying results have shown us how resource-intensive generative processes are.


The enormous computational operations require a lot of energy, impacting the environment and our workflow.


Production hours multiplied, and our efforts to achieve the desired results were often in vain.


Participating in Medimex 2024 and telling a story with the aid of AI was an opportunity for us to deepen our engagement with available tools and put them into practice. It also served as a valuable chance to showcase AI's narrative potential.


However, we cannot deny that more than once, we felt like we were navigating in open waters without a compass, hoping to reach our destination.


It was a significant challenge to succeed in the storytelling endeavor while avoiding losing the plot or getting lost in aesthetic virtuosity suggested by unexpected and extraordinary results.


Moreover, in our quest to generate female bodies, we encountered the inherent biases within AI models. These models often reflected prejudiced views of women as objects, resulting in exaggeratedly provocative and lascivious depictions.


This realization underscores the importance of mindful and responsible use of AI, ensuring we recognize and address the biases embedded within these powerful tools.


AI and AIs


We often hear about Artificial Intelligence as if it were a singular entity, but in reality, AI is a constellation of multiple entities, techniques, and algorithms. Each component serves different functions, solving specific problems in diverse and nuanced ways. Understanding AI as a collective of technologies emphasizes the need to evaluate its applications on a case-by-case basis, requiring an in-depth comprehension of its operating modes.


Artificial Intelligence is not a monolith but a mosaic of specialized capabilities, each contributing to the vast tapestry of human ingenuity.


We used a variety of AI techniques tailored to each task when translating text into visual representations, improving computer graphics, recording human movements, or analyzing audio data.



Credits


Projected AI Experience by

Blending Pixels


Creative Direction - AI Research and Development

Roberto Santoro


Motion Design and Animation

Roberto Santoro

Francesca Cianniello

Giancarlo D'Incognito


Audio Mixdown

Alessandro Minenna


Technical Director

Pino Loconsole


Playout Supervisor

Tommaso Todisco


Audio - Video Projection

Luci di Scena


Special Thanks to...


Medimex Artistic Director

Cesare Veronico


Medimex Communication Manager

Paola Troia


Radio Medimex

Corrado Minervini


Medimex Graphic Designer

Tommaso Armenise


Sound Tracks

Underworld - Born Slippy (YÅ Edit)

Daft Punk - Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger (Official Video)

The Chemical Brothers - Hey Boy Hey Girl (Official Music Video)

Bjork - It's Oh So Quiet

The Prodigy - Smack My Bitch Up

Billie Eilish - What Was I Made For (from The Motion Picture Barbie)




Teatro Pubblico Pugliese

Consorzio Regionale per le Arti e la Cultura


President

Paolo Ponzio


Vice president

Marco Giannotta


Board members

Maddalena Tulanti

Viviana Peloso

Salvatore Maria Sangiorgi


Director

Sante Levante


Manager responsible for regional projects

Claudia Sergio


Puglia Sounds and Medimex Artistic Coordinator

Cesare Veronico


Artistic Direction

Ernesto Assante

Stefano Senardi

Giorgio Riccitelli


Organization and general production

Ella Gaeta


Organization and production

Rino Binetti


Coordination of professional activities

Maddalena Ciocca


Coordination meetings with the artists

Antonella Dipierro


Coordination of Medimex Music Factory and Musicarium activities

Alessandra Bisconti


International relations

Cristina Fina


General secretary

Gabriella Morisco


Responsible for Regional Project Communication

Paola Troia


Press office

Luciano Rutigliano


Social Media

Serena Manieri


Graphics

Tommaso Armenise


Support for communication activities and web

Nicola Quacquarelli


Support for communication activities (UNIBA apprenticeship)

Francesco Bombini


Accommodation

Antonio Tuzza


Logistics

Lello Petrone

Ferdinando Cocco


Administration and accounting

Elvira Nardone

Marta Francioso

Francesco Fiore

Marianna Capotorto

Maria Fornarelli

Ciro Rutigliano,

Pino Santoro

Sante Livrano


Secretariat

Fabrizio Visconti

Rosangela Coroneo


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