[ISEA2019] Artists Statement: Eunsu Kang, Donald Craig, Barnabas Poczos, Chun-Liang Li, Songwei Ge, Austin Dill & Manzil Zaheer – Aural Fauna: Illuminato

Artists Statement

3D printed objects, 4 channel loud speakers, machine learning algorithms (add,pdd) developed by the artist team, microphone, real-time sound generation system using wave gan algorithm and interactive audiovisual system developed by the artist team, touchpad interface, video projection

“HARMONIUM – The only known form of life on the planet mercury.
The harmonium is a cave-dweller.
A more gracious creature would be hard to imagine.
– A Child’s Cyclopedia of Wonders and Things to Do.”
_Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., The Sirens of Titan

The Aural Fauna: Illuminato project presents an unknown form of organism, aural fauna, that reacts to the visitor’s sound and touch. According to The Sirens of Titan, Harmoniums eat the song of the planet Mercury. They are translucent but the yellow light from the cave wall turns into vivid aquamarine through their body. Inspired by the harmonium, the aural fauna is a family of creatures that becomes “alive” when there is a sound or touch fed into them. The fauna also sing a song in harmony to the visitor’s sound to express their acceptance of the visitor’s presence.
The fauna’s bodies and sounds are generated using Machine Learning. The creatures’ bodies appear as 3D-printed sculptural objects or virtual form in the video projection. The unique form of each entity is designed by creative AI developed by the artist team. Their sound is generated in real-time in response to the participant’s touch.
The tablet interface on a music stand and the microphone in front of the swarm is the terminal for the visitor to interact with these creatures. The visitor touches the tablet interface’s screen or sings to it then the aural fauna responds in lights and sounds.
This project presents a utopian vision of the world where different species, possibly even machines, interact with each other with no fear and thus no rejection or hatred driven by the fear. The human visitor and the aural fauna create a harmony together.

  • Eunsu Kang creates interactive audiovisual installations and AI artworks. Her research is focused on developing creative AI and artistic expressions by Machine Learning algorithms. She received her PhD in Digital Arts and Experimental Media(DXARTS) from the University of Washington (UW), USA. She is currently a Visiting Professor of Art and Machine Learning at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU), USA.
  • Donald Craig is a computer music composer and a software developer, who makes visual music. He received his Doctor of Musical Arts in Composition from the UW.
  • Austin Dill is a Masters student in CMU Machine Learning department.
  • Songwei Ge is a Masters student in CMU Computational Biology Department.
  • Chun-Liang Li is a PhD candidate at the Machine Learning Department of CMU.
  • Barnabas Poczos is an Associate Professor of Machine Learning at CMU. He has been collaborating with researchers from neuroscience, bioinformatics, cosmology, robotics, civil engineering, material science, chemistry, and art.
  • Manzil Zaheer