Being an octopus

Mio asked a few artists and designers to write exercises and interventions that they do when feeling lonely or lost.
She got some interesting results.

Below is my exercise – Being an octopus – that I enjoy doing when I feel stressed. I recorded it as an audio guide. The German language version is below the fold.

Being an Octopus

Imagine yourself as an octopus inhabiting the landscape of your body. Think about the place in your body where it feels comfortable, where it feels at home, this octopus. My octopus lives in the back of my head, warming my neck. Where could the nest of your octopus be?

Now imagine this octopus floating in the landscape of relationships. There are other octopuses, objects, or situations floating around it. Each of your eight arms is reaching out to different directions. Each one is holding something. Or touching another octopus. Holding a situation. Repelling something. Playing with something.

Think of the situations you are currently dealing with and let the octopus hold them. Picture the octopus arm as it holds, or tries to hold such a situation. Maybe there is nothing to hold? Maybe the grip is particularly tight? Who is holding the situation at the other end? Or is the octopus arm touching another octopus’s arm directly? Maybe the octopus is holding on to something? Or is being held? The octopus has eight arms with which it can grab hold of things. Go through each of them and imagine up to eight situations.

Now, let go of them one by one. Imagine the octopus letting go of a situation. Whatever the octopus lets go of doesn’t fall or disappear, it stays where it was. Let your octopus arm contract, curl up. Go through all the situations you imagined one by one. Release your grip on them, let them stay where they were, roll up your octopus arm and withdraw.

Now all the octopus arms are rolled up. The octopus is floating, unconnected, with its arms comfortably curled up under its body. Sense how that feels. Does it feel airy and bright? Warm and protected? Allow yourself to linger in this state for a while.

Now start to roll out one of your arms again. Touch whatever you like, not necessarily what you’ve held before. Explore it. Caress it. Hold on to it if it feels right. Or go on to find something else.

Repeat this procedure several times with the free arms, but make sure to let one or two arms remain unconnected. They are free to explore yourself and the world.

Feel yourself connected again. Listen to how that feels.

Sense how it feels to know that your octopus arms could let go or grab hold of something again at any time.

Research published

ZKM, the german media art museum, published my research on Strategies of Arrival, done under guidance of Bruno Latour.

It’s made up of three parts:

Inhabiting a map

How to enter a space


Instruments of reation

The first one is the most spectacular I guess, but make sure to check out the others too. And, once the museums reopen, check out my piece at the current ZKM exhibition Critical Zones.

AI deleting human bodies

I used neural networks to recognize and remove human bodies from videos, simultaneously trying to fill the void they left. Why? Well, as we are externalizing not just our bodily actions to tools, but our decision process to all-knowing, all-loving AIs, the traditional, perceivable image of what constitutes a human body has become obsolete. It seems oddly fitting in that case, for disembodied neural networks to remove our outdated bodily image.

Mira Hirtz performed for the camera. I then used Mask_RCNN to do body recognition and Generative Image Inpainting with Contextual Attention to fill in the emptiness.

This was a test for Bruno Latour’s upcoming exhibition on the Critical Zone. Made in November 2018.

Zuckerberg emojis
Adding human body to digital expression

Squint your eyes!

You’d think an emoji would be a clear and precise representation of an emotion. However the difference in rendering on different devices provides a great potential for miscommunication.

But even on the same platform, the kind of emotional reaction you may express is curated through the choice and design of available emojis. Take Facebook for example. The five Facebook emojis give you broad expressive capabilities, yet their design is very specific - and close to the extreme ends of the emotional scale. When using emojis, we wear these slightly too big masks of these particular, predefined facial expressions. We are becoming them.

I decided to reverse the process, to add body to the digital expression. That body should be, of course, that of Mark Zuckerberg.

Here are the results, created through disembodied neural networks.

I think CNNMRF grew the eyes from the hair, from the imagined eyebrows it found.

How it’s done:

First CNNMRF populated the emoticons with features of Marks face. It especially likes eyes and hair. I then used Deep-Image-Analogy to add more features, contrast, structure and adjust histogram. Finally jcjohnsons neural-style was used to upscale the image while adding texture.

1.Original 2.CNNMRF result 3. Deep Image Analogy output 4.Upscaled with Neural-style

Stickers for Telegram now available:

Got a question? Just ask me.

Neural nets see cancer zombies

Looking for ways to visualize machine learning processes. Neural nets are trained to recognized cancerous Ki-67 marked cells in biopsies. Instead of just counting the cells, a neural style process is run to produce infinite zombies in their place.