Planchette Bot

Conversations with the departed greats

La_Planchette

Recent events in the world have been showing that nations and cultures are tending to turn inward for answers instead of talking to each other. In what possible ways, then, one can imagine a more dialogic society that aims to sustain its (eco)systems and mechanisms through reciprocity and exchanges not only with others outside of its borders and fences but also with the historical figures that are associated with radical social and political reform representing collective wisdom and knowledge? Such conversations and extended dialogues could be arguably considered a therapeutic practice for the current crises. When a society seeks answers to many critical questions, it may consider reconnecting with these historical figures for motivation and guidance. Contemporary societies seem to be at a loss about taking clear directions while facing urgent issues such as climate breakdown and mass migration. As a result they turn to nationalism, protectionism, conservatism and other counterproductive forces for vain answers. How can we tap into the knowledge base of the forefathers of the societies – global figures, social reformers, political and religious leaders? How can their departed voices be brought back into the troubled contemporary times for leadership and direction? How can we know their opinion about the present crises? In the tradition of Planchette, dead persons are brought back to life through a sensate mediator. Drawing on the history of the Planchette and other devices spiritualists claimed could be used to communicate with the dead, and inspired by these para-methodologies, the project Planchette Bot re-creates the aura of few of the global figures in automated voice and hologram. The select historical figures include M. K. Gandhi, Malcom X, and Nelson Mandela, among others. Their personalities are recreated by incorporating AI and Machine Learning from the data sets of their writings, images, audio, video and other archival materials and historical documents through rigorous research. The use of neural networks, Machine Learning models and speech synthesis are central to rebuild their persona in automated voice and visuals. The project outcomes include a series of live performances where in-depth conversations with few of these leading lights are staged inviting sensate audiences to participate in.

Support:

ITMO University, Arts & Sciences, St Petersburg, 2021.

Artists + Machine Intelligence Grant, Google Arts And Culture and Google AI, New York, February 2020.

Collaborations:

Hasan (Curiouswala, India)

Jose K Sani (HAW Hamburg)

Thomas Glaesser (ZAM Zentrum für Aktuelle Musik)

Exhibition:

TBA, forthcoming 2021.

Performance:

Radio In Between Spaces, forthcoming 2021.

Presentations:

Talk: AI for Good global summit 2020, Geneva, November 2020.

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