Lauren Flood is a postdoctoral fellow at the Wolf Humanities Center, University of Pennsylvania. Her lecture is titled “AI and the Ethnography of Musical Futures: Prototype, Update, Real-Time, and DeepDream.”
Abstract: Over the past decade, the practice of building do-it-yourself (DIY) projects has been transformed by a global phenomenon called the Maker Movement, which purports to revolutionize creativity through a 21st-century twist on the individual development of hands-on technical skills. In this talk, I consider the intersections between the Maker Movement and growing trends in artificial intelligence (AI), particularly machine learning. Drawing on fieldwork in Berlin, I show how Makers working with machine learning are constantly engaged in a tug-of-war between past, present, and future. Words that capture this struggle-prototype, update, real-time, and DeepDream (the latter of which describes hallucinatory computer-manipulated art)-particularly dominate how Makers build musical machines and instruments. I explore how these temporal slippages between modes of being and doing, remembering and imagining frame Makers’ encounters with sound and with the larger institutions driving investment in AI as it becomes an inseparable part of all of our futures.