UKAI visits Bristol, UK

UKAI visits Bristol, UK

The team at UKAI (Kasra Goodarznezhad, Luisa Ji, and Jerrold McGrath) visited Bristol, UK for a two week visit (01.11.23 to 15.11.23) and residency at Watershed, a cultural cinema, talent development and creative technology space in Bristol. While there we worked on a few cultural infrastructure projects.

We tested out our collaborative platform developed to respond to and make visible political and ecological volatility and planning our 2024 Shipwreck programming, which you can read more about here.

We've also been doing a deeper dive into Retrieval Augmented Generation (RAG). We have been prototyping approaches to building generative language models that learn from the stories told in a particular place by the people in it. Essentially, stories shared are converted into vector embeddings which then enhance and direct a language model. Audiences can chat with the model and the stories that comprise it in a way that brings bodies, landscapes, and cultural narratives into the responses.

We were also working on an immersive project that uses VR to bring audiences into relation with experiences of displacement, on developing a next-generation version of our AI Ritual, (a co-production with STO Union and Hebbel am ufer in Berlin), and on testing GROUND, a tabletop role-playing game guided by an exceptionally unhelpful AI.

We were extremely grateful for this period of focus, particularly as part of a creative and brilliant community of 187 residents at the Pervasive Media Lab.

The visit came about following our visit to London in December of 2022. A few conversations and we quickly recognized how aligned our work was. There is a growing recognition globally that the kind of culture we need to deal with rising authoritarianism and ecological volatility differs significantly from the culture of spectacle and commodification that defines the art world and Western culture generally.

On Friday, November 3rd, 2023 (tomorrow) at 1 pm GMT (9 am in Toronto) we delivered a talk which you can watch through YouTube Live (here). We talked about two projects – the aforementioned collaborative platform for cultural production resilient to ecological and political volatility and GROUND, the city-scale tabletop roleplaying game that invites players to imagine rituals as ways of making a home in the world (with the guidance of an extremely unhelpful AI).

Later that day, we shared other work through First Friday November.

First Friday is a monthly social event open to anyone. November's event featured a selection of our work as well as from teams awarded funding through the first MyWorld Challenge & CR&D Calls, led by Digital Catapult.

The Pervasive Media Studio is a partnership between the Watershed, University of the West of England and University of Bristol. The lunchtime talks are partly supported by MyWorld, a project led by the University of Bristol to support creative industries in the region. Watershed is supported by Arts Council England. 

While Toronto is home, we wouldn't be able to commit to the work we do without international partnerships and collaborations such as this one. While several of the individual projects we are sharing have received generous support from the Canada Council for the Arts, this trip was supported with our own resources generated through co-production work and other revenue-generating activities.

We are extremely grateful for the opportunity to engage with international artists and creative technologists pursuing similar lines of inquiry. The team at Watershed has been generous and interruptible (two core values of the Pervasive Media Lab) and we look forward to sharing a bit more as we deepen our relationship with this place.

As always, if you want to support this work, attend one of our events, buy a publication or merchandise, or volunteer in creative production or at one of our events.
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