Expand your senses
Taking a feminine, sensual and intuitive approach to technology, Lisanne and her team made these five films to expose any liminal assumptions about possible applications of AI, AR and sensor-tech in the public space; and to question whether the design of sensory technology into or on our bodies could play a positive role in advancing humanity and society.
Are our bodies ready for our technologized lifestyle? What does this increased and shared intimacy between technology and our bodies imply for the future? What do we gain by expanding our senses? How do we transcend cognitive bias in coding up algorithms? Is technology the ultimate tool for self-expression, to celebrate the diversity of human nature? Is it a tool to expand our consciousness into the unseen dimensions of reality? Is technology our go-to medium to empathise with other species? Or are we creating a next-sensory-techno-mess?
What to do when you lose your sense of smell as a chef? When you are disconnected not only from the dishes you cook but also from the people you cook for? In this film, protagonist Franka explains how her synesthesia sense rewired not only her brain but also her cooking process and gave her a unique color and scent pallet to work with, resulting in innovative dishes that she could have never thought of before.
Skin Waves inspires a conversation about our relationship to the natural world in general, and the ocean in particular, and challenges the common perception of technology to disconnect us from the Earth's non-human species, circadian rhythms and low-frequency sounds. Would we live in more harmony as a whole, if technology could help us to become empathetic to nature in a broader sense?
Maybe more so than in the other scenarios, the Baby Code showcases how AI could go terribly wrong if its goal would be to overwrite our intuition. This film doesn't give answers about how products like Elon Musk's neuralink could turn out, it rather touches a grey area where we have scenarios to talk about. How far do we want to go with this body-implant-thing? When consent is impossible, is it ethical to decipher your baby's first farts and burps? Maybe some things just have to remain dirty and unapologetically analog. And yet, on the other hand, The Baby Code also offers a platform to to perceive sensor-tech more as an elastic membrane draped over our human flesh, as opposed to being our robot overlord. Technology, in the end, exists to support us in what we are trying to achieve, not the other way around.
Inner peace is precarious. Electronic Empathy questions the sensory overstimulation in urban environments and people's incapacity to deal with that, either desensitizing themselves or living in a permanent state of hyperarousal. People on the autistic spectrum are generally falling in the latter category. This film follows a man who decided to implant a 'sense of empathy' into his forehead, activating an AI that runs on facial recognition algorithms. As soon as the protagonist Jan gets overstimulated, he activates the AI and outsources his sense of empathy to "John". John scans the biometric data of the people who Jan interacts with, and communicates a mathematically ‘perfect’ version of empathy to its human (inter)face, so that John can be social without needing to be engaged.
Electronic Empathy is a platform to start thinking about the implications of programmable systems of artificial intelligence that simulate humanity while they are really controlled and biased versions of our humanity. It also inspires a conversation on privacy, consent, and the current trend of seeing algorithms (and AI) as the go-to solution to improve humanity and ultimately society.
︎ Next Senses - Electronic Empathy
A special sense for WiFi. Imagine you could listen to WiFi networks, a special sense to hear WiFi signals. As you move around the city passing different networks, the soundscape changes. Recurring networks would become familiar refrains, as do the melodies created by home and work routers. You would maybe end up looking for isolated areas to enjoy the silence of a location without WiFi connections, or would you gather in crowded places to listen to wireless signals concerts? How do you imagine the sound generated by WiFi networks? A continuous stream of pips and beeps, whistles and crackles, or – like us – a celestial choir?
︎ Next Senses - Wifi Angels
Concept & Direction: Concept, Creative Director, Research, Scripts: Lisanne Buik Project Management: Tim Hoogesteger, Next Nature Network Art Direction, Camera, Editing: Alain de Bruijn Sense Consultancy: Koert van Mensvoort, Rolf Swolfs Cast: Actors: Jason Winter (Wifi Angels), Hester Beek (Synesthesia), Andy Chaleff (Electronic Empathy), Lisanne Buik (Skin Waves), Levange en Evaly Hermus (The Baby Code) Voice-Overs: Jason Winter (Wifi Angels), Hilde Anna de Vries (Synesthesia), Oscar Kneppers (Electronic Empathy), Lisanne Buik (Skin Waves), Fay Kneppers (The Baby Code). Project Partners: Next Nature Network, CitySenses, Lisanne Buik, Alain de Bruijn.
This production is supported by: Rabobank, Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds, Cultuurfonds Almere, Gemeente Almere, ANBI, Arc2 Architecten, AMR, Voordekunst, TSR, Active Health Foundation. Gratitude to: Kimchi Wow, Eye Museum, Rotterdam AI, Amsterdam Welvaren, Fleur van der Minne, TU Delft – Pieter Jonker, Conscious Hotel Amsterdam.
- Leonardo Davinci
©️Lisanne Buik 2019
Still from Wifi Angels - watch the whole series on Vimeo.