What does it mean to be human in the digital age? Exploring this question is AI: More Than Human at London’s Barbican Centre, an unprecedented survey of creative and scientific developments in artificial intelligence. Charting its rapidly evolving story – from ancient roots in Japanese Shintoism to the present day – the exhibition explores the changing relationship between individuals and technology.
The exhibition is split into several sections. The first is entitled The Dream of AI, charting a longstanding desire to bring the inanimate to life – from the religious traditions of Shintoism and Judaism to the mystical science of alchemy. The second part, Mind Machines,continues this chronology, tracking the developments of early innovators to the creation of the first neural network in the 1940s. Computing pioneers Ada Lovelace and Charles Babbage are featured, alongside Alan Turing’s groundbreaking efforts to decipher code in World War II.
At the crux of the exhibition is Data Worlds, a collection of innovative works examining the capability of new media to improve commerce, change society and enhance personal lives. From road safety to smart home intelligence, it highlights real-life applications across fields such as healthcare, journalism and retail. With contributions from Sony and Nexus Studios, it asks the poignant question: will machines ever outsmart a human?
Finally, Endless Evolution explores the future of society. Powerful pieces such as Stephanie Dinkins’s Not The Only One, a multigenerational memoir of one black American family, continues an ongoing dialogue around race, gender and aging. Audiences can have conversations and ask questions to these figures, giving voice to those underrepresented in the tech sector.
Other highlights include teamLab’s interactive digital installation What a Loving and Beautiful World. Comprising programmers, engineers, CG animators, mathematicians and architects, the interdisciplinary group aims to create a borderless relationship between communities and nature – traversing the boundaries between art, science and technology. The immersive environment at Barbican taps into this, offering an ever-changing landscape that responds to the movement of visitors.
Barbican’s Level G spaces will also see a variety of new commissions, including a social sculpture by Es Devlin; an open-world video game from Lawrence Lek; architectural topographies by Certain Measures and Universal Everything’s Future You, an uncanny installation through which visitors can interact with an AI version of themselves.
The exhibition runs 16 May to 26 August. Find out more here.
AI: More Than Human is part of Life Rewired, Barbican’s 2019 season. For a full list of events, click here.
Lead image: AI: More Than Human, What a Loving and Beautiful World, © teamLab