Taken by Artificial Surprise 

 
Installation and performance series exploring surprise, magic and machine learning

On View: Thursday, July 28 - Sunday, July 31, 2022 

Performances: 7:30 pm (Approximately 20-30 minutes)

Free (reservation required)

CultureLAB LIC: 5-25 46th Avenue, Long Island City, New York, NY 11101  

 

This performance and installation series explores the relationships among magic, machine learning, and surprise as it welcomes attendees to step inside a thought experiment – a Turing Test of sorts. Taken by Artificial Surprise utilizes historic parlor magic to examine hierarchies of surprise and the human creation of surprise as compared and contrasted to that of machines. What might performances of the seemingly impossible demonstrate about the capabilities and limitations of both machine learning and the human mind? Andrews invites participants to think about whether surprise is a unique, defining factor of human consciousness and how the mechanisms that create surprise lie deep within the gaps of lived and learned personal and cultural experience. 

 

​The performance aspect of this work showcases magic effects with varying levels of surprise factors. The performance aspect of this work showcases magic effects with varying levels of surprise factors. Andrews presents historic pieces of magic alongside algorithmically generated magic effects that she has devised ways to perform in reality. Participants might find themselves a bit unsure as to which may be which.

In 1950, pioneering mathematician and computer scientist Alan Turing wrote the seminal paper "Computing Machinery and Intelligence." He drew inspiration from Victorian parlor games to imagine his own parlor-style amusement: the imitation game. This inspired the now-famous Turing Test and utilized the question, "can a machine take us by surprise?" as a way to investigate artificial intelligence. The installation references imagery from Victorian parlor games contrasted with a glossy, early technological ideal.

Andrews also notes that, “this project was inspired by my time as an Affiliate at metaLAB (at) Harvard. During this time I was fortunate to have encountered a diversity of ideas and research, and discourse with metaLAB members also greatly assisted the ideation process.” This work is made possible by Franklin Furnace Archive, Inc. and the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Kathy Hochul and the New York State Legislature. 

 

About Culture Lab LIC 

Culture Lab LIC is a 501(c)(3) formed to bring accessible, high quality art of all genres to our community, and to support local artists by providing rehearsal, performance, exhibition space, as well as a robust residency program. CL is dedicated to upholding, equity, diversity and inclusion across all our platforms. Operating out of a 12,000 square foot art center, Culture Lab LIC hosts two fine art galleries, a 90 seat theatre, classroom space, and an 18,000 square foot outdoor venue, made possible by the generous donation of space from Plaxall Inc. CL is honored to host more arts programming than any other organization in New York City. Culture Lab is more than a venue, it is the heart of Long Island City. 

A very special thanks to Plaxall Inc. for the donation of this amazing space and supporting us in turning it into this cornerstone of arts and community activity! 

@culturelablic 

https://www.culturelablic.org/

 

This project was also made possible with funds from the Statewide Community Regrant program, a program of the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Kathy Hochul and the New York State Legislature and administered by Flushing Town Hall.

 

Image credit: Ari Isenberg