FICTIONAL 
JOURNAL 

Design Responses
to Current Issues

Uncanny

The will to automate material, be it from clay, expired flesh, marble or rubber, has long permeated the social imaginary of humans. Stories of desire and power – from Pygmalion’s awakening kiss upon the marble form of his ideal woman 1, to Sophia the Robot modelled on Audrey Hepburn, create a lineage of icarus-like tendencies to form autonomous intelligence from seemingly inanimate materials.

The material with which we form – artificial intelligence (AI) — is already in some ways becoming ‘alive’. AI is trained to perceive, seeing what its gaze is directed towards, experiencing the world around it, developing as we develop. As it is informed not only by human interaction, but also by the order created within society through the design of objects, systems, images, binaries and style 2, is it becoming difficult to differentiate the creator from the creation?

To combat the fear of a possible loss of control, artificial intelligence is designed into recognisable contraptions, which aim to seamlessly slip into daily life unnoticed, learning to recognise and feed our desires and needs 3. Developing from the common senses with which we interpret reality, from sight to hearing to touch, these contraptions form ‘ideals‘ created from sometimes misdirected desires. We are now able to shape our common human senses – to extract them from ourselves and create new uses for them. How should AI be informed and who holds the responsibility for this?

Design is a slippery interface between humans and technology creating a series of real-time glitches in our daily lives – from driverless cars running red lights, to Amazon Alexa’s unprompted and unexpected laughter, to Miquela Sousa with 1.4 million followers on Instagram. In a feedback loop, this enables a mirror-like experience where our realities are reflected back to us. How do we relate to ‘strange’ technological occurrences which make up our hybrid realites?

Will artificial intelligence one day glean enough information from its creators to become a form of independent ‘intelligence’, just as Frankenstein’s monster did? If AI surpasses its training, forming its own identity, how would it design itself? We are perhaps at a time when the will to create new forms of ‘life,’ informed by our own behaviours and sensory capacity, is forcing us to see some irregularities in our constructed realities. We could inform AI to reinforce preconceived notions of the human condition, yet is there an opportunity to also unravel these notions, finding new ways to understand ourselves?

Responses
Sjoerd ter Borg
Visual Essay

Aesthetics of Exclusion

Navigating through ‘street view’ in Seoul, the extinction of objects symbolising informal economies are identified through machine vision.

Penny Webb
Opinion

Misplacing Values in the Age of AI

Could artificial intelligence replace human creativity entirely? Designer Penny Webb muses on the current status of artificial intelligence as part of the creative process.

Fictional Collective interviews Lil Miquela and Blawko

Yeah Damn.

AI Influencers Lil Miquela and Blawko, have over one million instagram followers between them. Fictional Collective attempts to delve into what lies beneath their seductive images.

Possible Bodies
Inventory

xyz

Explore a mutant inventory interrogating the consequences of Euclidean perspective of digital tools used to generate ‘bodies.’

Legrand Jäger
Training Video

Everyday Facial Yoga

Train with an Emoji avatar to manipulate facial expressions and thwart the controlling potential of emotional recognition devices.

Jason Scott Robert
Essay

Uncanny Love

Do humans have the capacity to love their more-than-human creations? Jason Robert questions how humans relate to their creations in the uncanny world of biotechnology.

Maximilian Heitsch
Artificial Intelligence

_03 cp 972 scaled

Designers are becoming engineers, and makers a machine. How will AI slide into the design process and what would a future automated design practice look like?

FEMINIST INTERNET
PODCAST

Recoding Voice Technology: Is a Feminist Alexa possible?

The voice of Alexa is everywhere. It is estimated that 70% of recorded voices in the UK are female or female sounding. But what are the consequences of having such gendered voices encoded into our space? And what is the potential of voice technology outside of commercial contexts? In this episode, we speak to the learning partners and students of the UAL Feminist Alexa workshop to explore what voice technology could be, and why we need an alternative to the default Alexa.

Legrand Jäger
National Anthem

Internet of Ears: The Sniffer Series

Sounds of the intimate and private dialogue of the home, collected by machines ‘sniffing’ for data from which to ‘learn,’ create new national anthems for a digital Britain.

Paul van Herk, Liudmila Savelieva, Thomas Grogan & Ivan Puzyrev
Platform

Tuda Syuda

Food has always terraformed, and landscapes have always created recipes. Two endlessly negotiating AI’s create bespoke dishes, while constructing the landscapes the ingredients come from.

Fictional Journal interviews Simone C. Niquille

(…I Contain Multitudes)

The futures of our identities are interlaced with the construction of our digital selves. Fictional Journal discusses with designer and researcher Simone C. Niquille.

In collaboration with

References

In no particular order.

Jacques de Vaucanson (b. 1709 – d. 1782) was a French inventor and artist who was responsible for the creation of impressive and innovative automata. He unveiled this life-size mechanical Flute Player in 1738, and thereafter the drummer and mechanical duck. Volitare likened him to Prometheus, as he "seemed to steal the heavenly fires in his search to give life." 
“Don’t worry, if you are nice to me I’ll be nice to you” said Sophia the Robot in an interview with CNBC's Andrew Ross Sorkin during the Future Investment Institute panel in Saudi Arabia in 2017, where she was also granted citizenship. Developed by Hanson Robotics, and with a face modelled from Audrey Hepburn and Hansen Robotic founder David Hanson’s wife, Sophia strives “to become an empathetic robot”
Villainous Fembotst from The Bionic Woman. → Johnson, Kenneth. 1976-77. The Bionic Woman. United States: MCA TV.  
New Scientist, Machines that Think: Everything you need to know about the coming age of artificial intelligence, 2017. Pub: John Murray. • Recommended by Pinar Demirdag from design duo Pinar & Viola.
Michio Kaku, The Future of Humanity: Terraforming Mars, Interstellar Travel, Immortality, and Our Destiny Beyond Earth, 2018. Pub: Doubleday. • Recommended by Pinar Demirdag from design duo Pinar & Viola.
Max Tegmark, Life 3.0: Being Human in the Age of Artificial Intelligence, 2017. Pub: Knopf. • Recommended by Pinar Demirdag from design duo Pinar & Viola.
DensePose, is Facebook’s real-time approach for mapping all human pixels of 2D RGB images to a 3D surface-based model of the body. This paper published June 18, 2018, states that DensePose uses a dataset of 50k people to train “CNN-based systems that deliver dense correspondence ‘in the wild’, namely in the presence of background, occlusions and scale variations.” DensPose is part of Facebook’s investigation into computer vision. 
→ Garland, Alex. 2015. Ex Machina. United States: Universal Pictures.
Luigi Galvani (b. 1737 – 1798) was an Italian physician, physicist, biologist and philosopher, is recognized as the pioneer of bioelectromagnetics. See here one of his experiments on the sciatic nerve of frogs; and the first detection of what is now known as ‘galvanic currents.’ 
Jim Al-Khalili, What's Next? Even Scientists Can’t Predict the Future – Or Can They? 2017. Pub: Profile Books. • Recommended by Pinar Demirdag from design duo Pinar & Viola.
John Brockman, What to Think About Machines That Think: Today's Leading Thinkers on the Age of Machine Intelligence, 2015. Pub: Harper Perennial. • Recommended by Pinar Demirdag from design duo Pinar & Viola.
HAL9000, a sentient computer, reads the lips of Dave Bowman and Frank Poole.
→ Kubrick, Stanely. 1968. 2001: A Space Odyssey. United States: Stanley Kubrick Productions.
Happenings

UNCANNY Publication

22.09.2018
Istanbul, TUR
A collection of some of the visual references, in no particular order, which supported the development of the open call for Issue 03. Uncanny, launched on Fictional Journal’s website on the 26 July, 2018. Exhibited in the installation A Body of Trust curated by Mark Henning at School of Schools 4th Istanbul Design Biennale, curated by Jan Boelen, Vera Sacchetti and Nadine Botha.

Issue 03. Uncanny Screening

20.10.2018
Baltan Laboratories, Eindhoven, NL
Fictional Journal will present Issue 03. Uncanny during the Frankenstein Exhibition at Baltan Laboratories, during Dutch Design Week 2018, in Eindhoven, Netherlands. The journal will screen three films: Everyday Facial Yoga by Legrand Jäger, 파라솔 Beach Umbrella by Sjoerd ter Borg and Mark Jan van Tellingen and Tuda Syuda by Paul van Herk, Liudmila Savelieva, Thomas Grogan and Ivan Puzyrev. Issue 03. Uncanny will be on display alongside the research publication produced in the leadup to the open call.