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Tinkering with the 'Theoryless': The New Epistemology of Contemporary AI

Kunst und Architektur, Kunst- und Kulturwissenschaften, Naturwissenschaften und Technologie in der Kunst
Online via Zoom

Lecture by Jutta Weber within the Online Lecture Series OUT OF THE EYE  – Drawing Perspectives and Profiling Figures in Architecture Winter 2020/Summer 2021 organized by IKA and IKW.

Zoom-Meeting-ID: 978 4524 4737
Zoom-Kenncode: 2.26+*

The Institute of Natural Sciences and Technology in the Arts (INTK) will take you through a journey from the macroscopically visible material surfaces to the invisible molecular composition of one of the famous modern buildings in Vienna, the renowned Belvedere 21, Museum of Contemporary Art. Original materials of the building are investigated by light microscopical techniques, and - partly radiation-based - physicochemical methods (RAMAN spectroscopy, infrared spectroscopy, pyrolysis gas chromatography) to visualize the molecular and elemental composition of the building materials in the form of "data sets", "peaks" and "signals". The results obtained allow to arouse the view from the imposing architecture of the building into the smallest particle of matter that uniquely defines a chemical element: the atom. The travel continues investigating the invisible: the unseen microbial life proliferating on the building: bacteria, fungi, protists and viruses – as important agents of material destruction and aging - are identified using based on their DNA traces. The studies of materials in such detail is a major basis for the understanding of weathering processes and for the preservation of historic, modern and contemporary architecture.

Institute of Natural Sciences and Technology in the Arts (INTK)

For the students of the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna the Institute of Natural Sciences and Technology in the Arts guarantees a profound theoretical and practice-oriented education in the subjects of colour science, theory of perception, materials science and colour chemistry, and the diagnosis of microbially caused damage with an increasing emphasis on contemporary materials and technologies. Our research focus is on understanding the basic principles of material changes by physical, chemical and biological factors both in art and architecture as a major basis for conservation of cultural heritage.

INTK is currently engaged in the following main research areas:
- Aging processes of modern and contemporary materials including glass, stone, mortar paint layers, foams and may more.
- Aging processes of historic materials and artefacts (paper, parchment, ink, paint layers)
- Material analysis and computer-aided evaluation strategies (digitization of scientific data derived from cultural heritage)
- BIO-Archives and microbial pedigrees in art and building materials.
- Climate change and microbiological contamination in museums, archives and collections.

Zoom-Meeting-ID: 978 4524 4737
Zoom-Kenncode: 2.26+*

Information concerning the Lecture Format: Please notice that the lecture will be recorded. When entering the meeting, you will be prompted to consent. In order to have a pleasant experience for all viewers, please keep your video turned off and your microphone muted at all times. Refrain from using the general chat during the lecture as it might disturb the person talking. It is advised to hide all participants without video, therefore go to the ^-sign next to the “start/stop video” button and in the video-settings tab enable “hide non-video-participants”. After the presentation there will be the possibility to ask questions via the chat or in person. If you want to enter the discussion please raise your hand digitally by pressing the blue icon-hand in the participants-panel. The questioners are ordered chronologically and the moderation will then ask you to “unmute audio/show video“ and join the discussion.
Thank you.


The lecture series Out of the Eye, a collaboration between IKA and IKW, is organized and curated by Christina Jauernik, Andreas Spiegl and Wolfgang Tschapeller.

All lectures start at 7 pm and will be held online. To receive access to the online event, please see the Zoom-link as mentioned above.


OUT OF THE EYE Drawing Perspectives and Profiling Figures in Architecture

What if seeing with the eyes is accomplished or substituted by cameras that provide data for algorithms to profile patterns and figures? What if the visualization of these figures and patterns is no longer related to the realms of visibility and perception? What if the production of data-based images masks the very disappearance of visual qualities?

Architecture structures space and its perception, not least on the basis of the points of view and perspectives that it offers. Architecture is and always has been a viewing machine that wants to be looked at as well. Yet the issue of seeing and the capacity of the (human) eye is challenged by processes of digitalisation and artificial intelligence that offer new perspectives – or, to put it in more radical terms: a mode of perception that is related less to seeing than it is based on the recognition of patterns and quantifications. The (visual) perspective is substituted by an algorithmic process of reading data. The results are perceived as (visual) images to a lesser extent, even if that is what they look like, because the identification of objects or situations is based on (ir-)regularities of and in patterns. The (earlier) notions of view and perspective thus appear redundant. What is left of perspective is the point of view that reality and presence appear as a thread. The question of forecasting and planning is not so much a political issue as a task of programming and tinkering with data. Out of the Eye looks at politics out of the political.

The presence of (surveillance) cameras and the tracking of (social) media use constantly produce data and feed databases. Genetic algorithms tinkering with data to find patterns (of individual interests, social contacts, traces of mobility, etc.) produce profiles that are based on figures. The volume of data, and the production or finding of patterns and relations between them, exceeds human capacity and depends on technical support and performance. In the context of calculating risks and pre-emptive measures against threats, it is the logic of (algorithmically) programmed figures that fuels the fields of imagination and predictions. Your personal history is waiting to be profiled and summarized. Biometric data and the traces of personal information produced by the individual use of media create a constantly synchronized and continually updated portrait that is evaluated and rated on the basis of indices and indicators. Emerging patterns are subsequently decisive for jobs offered or denied, proposed sets of (private or professional) relations, or the fact that you are identified as solvent or suspicious. There are infinite images and perspectives to see and to choose from, and yet the actual production of patterns and profiles remains invisible because it is based on data and figures. The narration (or narrative structure of a biography) is substituted by mined possibilities beyond the classical structure of cause and effect. Yet we can be confronted with effects without a (reasonable) reason – or because of a reason based on (randomly or contingently) emerging patterns. At the same time, genetic algorithms can also provide solutions for problems we have not been aware of, or optimize tools beyond human capacity.

The lecture series wants to reflect on the concept of perspective in the context of media technologies that substitute the actual performance of seeing and looking with the recognition of patterns that only algorithms can “see”, which they do by “profiling (e-merging) figures”.


9 NOV 2020
Ursula Schmidt-Erfurth
Seeing through Artificial Intelligence

25 JAN 2021
Jaya Klara Brekke
Cryptopolitics - contentious visibilities in cloud geographies

21 JUNE 2021
Katja Sterflinger und Federica Cappa
For your eyes only – a scientific journey into the heart of materials and microbes with the INTK team

28 JUNE 2021
Jutta Weber
Tinkering with the 'Theoryless': The New Epistemology of Contemporary AI

Philippe Parreno
Conversation with Philippe Parreno