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Artificial Intelligence allows machines to learn as they go, becoming ever more capable of executing a variety of tasks. The applications are far reaching: self-driving cars, automated police surveillance, computer-generated medical care, even art generated without artists. This last possibility veers into territory still considered unique to humans, though probably not for long: creativity. It is not without irony, then, that Ben Bogart’s artworks employ AI as their primary tool. Meant to be presented in May in Montreal, alongside the International Symposium on Electronic Art (ISEA), itself delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Bogart’s “Watching (2001: A Space Odyssey)” is a computer-generated remake of the seminal 1968 sci-fi movie. Taking about a month of processing time, Bogart’s machine deconstructs the entirety of the two-hour-plus film into tens of millions of image and sound fragments, averages and groups them according to formal qualities, then arranges them according to the original film. What results is an eerily attractive and very blurred approximation of a critical, multilayered, and profoundly human production. No surprise that HAL’s voice sounds just right.

—Lori Waxman 2020-10-14 10:26 AM