PROBE I, Averso Specillo Di Ducendum
electronics, ML, custom software, stainless steel
Probe I, Averso specillo di ducendum is the first work in the Probe Series by Benjamin Bacon. The Probe Series evolved from an interest in how machine logic could live in physical space, and an interest to explore machine perception and sentience through experimental design of machine learning driven mechanical installations. Set in the conceptual framework of a post-planetary space exploration design fiction narrative, the series frames machine perception as “alien” and speculates on a future where conscious machines can bear the trials of space travel to investigate “hostile” human-occupied environments in search of new habitats. The Probe Series follows this train of thought, where each installment of the more extensive series investigates one aspect of sensory perception and data collection and analysis.
Probe I is an ML-driven machine that presents a version of the artist’s imagination of post-planetary machine life. Inspired by the Panspermia hypotheses (the theory that life on the earth originated from microorganisms or chemical precursors of life present in outer space that are able to initiate life on reaching a suitable environment), the installation speculates on a future where conscious machines can bare the trials of space travel to investigate hostile environments of terrestrial planets. The piece takes on the perspective of alien machine life forms as it observes, document, and analyze the strange phenomenon of life on earth through computer vision and machine learning analysis. The installation tracks human and object data in the immediate space around it, including presence and movement, and feeds this data back to a machine learning model developed by the artist that analysis and tries to make sense of the data.
This work was commissioned and collected by UNArt Center in Shanghai, China in 2019.
Probe I, installation view, taken at the opening of exhibition Latent Spectators, 2019.
Render of installation to proportion.
Archival footage taken of early ML model object recognition tests on the streets of Berlin.