Home Arts The AI-generated chorus of songbirds has a sinister side

The AI-generated chorus of songbirds has a sinister side

by godlove4241
0 comment

An immersive installation that manipulates the dawn chorus of songbirds with artificial intelligence (AI) turns into an uncomfortable finale. It’s not a dawn that birdwatchers would recognize, but one conceived by British-South African artist Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg as both a celebration and a lament of songbirds in peril.

Augurs Machinery: Toledo at the Toledo Museum of Art, Ohio (until November 26), Ginsberg’s first solo exhibition in the United States, was curated with immersive art and technology company Superblue.

“It’s really about asking people not to sit in the gallery and listen to an artificial choir at dawn, but to come out and protect what’s already there,” says Ginsberg, whose work probes society’s idealization of advanced technologies while nature languishes. Sometimes she speaks on behalf of nature, as with her installation on the nearly extinct northern white rhinoceros, and sometimes she bypasses humans altogether and designs directly for nature, as with Pollinator Pathmakeran outdoor facility in Cornwall, UK.

Augurs Machinery: Toledo is sounding the alarm about precipitous declines in bird populations — averaging 30% in the United States and Canada — as technologies like AI proliferate. Birdsong is an essential form of avian communication to protect territory and find mates, disrupted by climate change, habitat loss, and light and noise pollution. Bird conservation is of particular interest in this region of northern Ohio, which sits at the tip of Lake Erie and is a critical staging area along an avian highway for some of the 3.5 billion birds migrating to the United States each year.

The installation’s 12-minute experience begins with the space quietly bathed in silvery blue light and the faint chirping of crickets. An American robin sings, soon joined by other songbirds whose chorus will be disrupted by a machine-generated discord.

The project builds on a previous iteration in London in 2019, but the technology has advanced significantly over the past four years. Ginsberg collaborated with string theory physicist Przemek Witaszczyk and the Macaulay Library at Cornell University’s Ornithology Laboratory, which has more than a million bird records. They created a dataset of tens of thousands of field recordings of birds from the northwest region of Ohio and trained a generative adversarial network to mimic 11 bird calls.

The installation opposes the cries of natural birds to those generated by the machine. At first, the generated bird calls are rough and distorted. The calls of the machine grow stronger and the light continues to rise until the artificial sky blossoms into warm peach hues and the chorus reaches a crescendo. The light dims, the sounds fade until a final call, then a silence. “It’s pretty uncomfortable because it’s all gone and it’s over,” Ginsberg says. It’s the sentiment she hopes will inspire visitors to get out into nature and protect what’s gone.

You may also like

Leave a Comment

@2022 – All Right Reserved. Designed and Developed by artworlddaily