In April 2020 metazoa.org was invited to spend 14 days at Telegram Residency organised by Netart.Berlin. One of the output was an Telegram bot to generate endless Sticker sets based on DCGAN trained on human faces and emojis.
Set: Form Follows Emoji
Matrjoshka (Матрешка) sticker set
Immediacy, the mother of immersion, is so tempting to achieve and to be part of, also or maybe first and foremost in messengers. It’s tempting to make immediate connections, ask and answer questions with one tap, to have a dialog without talking.
Form that once followed function in the world of consumer electronics was reassigned to follow emotion*. Emotions got channeled into emojis. Emoji, an ultimate form of immediacy, emancipated, giving life to new genres whose function is to immerse users in generating (or picking from) sets of personal preferences, cultural references and insider jokes. In a messeger’s STICKERS menu, you are entering fractal dimension, opening a Russian Doll.
Matreshka sticker set is your path throurh the world of endless possibilities, greetings, reactions, questions and answers, that will always match.
Artists: Cho Won Kim, Cora Lenz, Olia Lialina, Nadja Schmidle, Tim Schmitt, Marla Schneider, Amelie Vogelmann as part of semester project LOOP at Merz Akademie, Stuttgart
The Garden of Emoji Delights Sticker set includes characters extracted from The Garden of Emoji Delights, a digital painting and animation I produced as a translation of Hieronymus Bosch’s most famous work, The Garden of Earthly Delights. The stickers include: “Burger Boy & Businessman,” the “Shrimp Mermaid Goddesses,” “Princesses in a Pool,” “Bros on Bikes,” “Amorous Pig Nun,” “Money Angels,” and more….
Artist: Carla Gannis
Carla Gannis is an interdisciplinary artist based in Brooklyn, New York. She produces virtual and physical works that are darkly comical in their contemplation of human, earthly and cosmological conditions. Gannis’s work has appeared in exhibitions and projects across the globe. Recent projects include “Portraits in Landscape,” Midnight Moment, Times Square Arts, NY and “Sunrise/Sunset,” Whitney Museum of American Art, Artport. Publications who have featured Gannis’s work include Hyperallergic, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, El PaÍs and The LA Times, among others.
Set: Low Res Barbarian
Artist: Lorna Mills
*Canadian artist, who has actively exhibited her work in both solo and group exhibitions since the early 1990’s, both in Canada and Internationally. Her practice has included obsessive Ilfochrome printing, obsessive painting, obsessive super 8 film & video, and obsessive on-line animated GIFs incorporated into restrained off-line installation work. Recent exhibitions include “Abrupt Diplomat” at the Marshal McLuhan Salon for Transmediale, “At Play in the Fields of the Lord” at Transfer Gallery, Brooklyn NY and “DKRM” at DAM Gallery, Berlin. Mills has also co-curated monthly group GIF projections, with Rea McNamara, for the “Sheroes” performance series in Toronto, a group GIF projection event “When Analog Was Periodical” in Berlin with Anthony Antonellis, and a four person GIF installation, “:::Zip The Bright:::” at Trinity Square Video in Toronto, with Sara Ludy, Nicolas Sassoon and Rick Silva. Lorna Mills‘ most recent curation project, “Ways of Something” is a collaborative remake of the 1972 John Berger documentary “Ways of Seeing” episodes one through four, featuring 113 networked artists. (quoted from http://methodsofart.net/artist/lorna-mills/)
As an starting point we choosed to port our older (2011) work [Generation of Princesses](https://generaceprincezen.cz) to inline bot for generating a specific sticker set (https://t.me/addstickers/GPv1_by_mtzgpbot). During the residency it was possible to all Telegram users to spread this set by using @mtzgpbot. The set reached its end in 120 stickers.
Generation of Princesses grew up from our skepticism of massive image producing on one hand and from the lust of human being to see and emotionally engage the image of face in almost anything which contains three separated spots on the other.
It seems to be the trademark of man throughout his history (totems, masks, portraits, goddess, icons, idols, end emoji), it is a first thing the newborn is going to learn. Almost everything you want to sell to a human being has to have a face, a show on site, a distinguishable expression (car, movie, computer, artist).
We see the Generation of Princesses with its teenage look, pattern-driven logic, self-identification moment, algorithmic encapsulation and ability of producing bunch of outputs actualise itself in an incoming era of AI produced images and as such it make sense for us to introduce it again in the form of Telegram bot.
Set: Generation Bastards
With the typical self-irony, as the second set we have made almost endless line* of hybrids between human faces and emojis and named it as Generation of Bastards. By training the DCGAN (Deep Convolutional Generative Adversarial Network) on extracts from [UTKFace](https://susanqq.github.io/UTKFace/) and [emoji-data](https://github.com/iamcal/emoji-data) we have got the [model](https://metazoa.org/netart-berlin-telegram-residency-2020/generator-of-bastards.hdf5) for another Telegram bot @mtzaibot. This bot will remain active for some time.
In this case we were interested not only to produce, even low-res, AI generated stickers. After all, the core concept remained the same as before, three dots in colored blob as emotionally tinged face. The main direction was to take advantage of the residency to deeply explore pitfalls of training AI in general. To explore its exclusiveness in the sense of knowledge, emic, time and for sure a technical equipment. We would rather be able to bring some new and shocking ideas, but please wait…
* Generation of Bastards sets are automatically versioned until reach the maximum of stickers in set (119)
Set: Please Wait
In puting preloaders in the place of emoticons we try to point up, that the most emotional moments we experience in the front of a computer may be watching the loading bar or the spinning preloader until expected content is prepared.
This forced waiting moments are the very rare moments in the interaction with computer, where we have time to observe our emotions and their origins. And maybe decide to not to load what we thought we would like to load before.
Another topic of this sticker set is the politics of the illusion of the fastest, the immediate, direct, clear and the round-the-clock service we expect from the communication with computer programs as well as from the communication with humans and ourselves.
Barbora Trnková, together with Tomáš Javůrek, forms the Czech artistic duo working under the common pseudonym & on the metazoa.org domain. Together they create web applications, wifi installations, mobile applications as artworks. They explore – with their own sense of ontologically or tautologically based philosophy, intimacy and subtle humor – the possibilities of technologies as an interface om on which inhuman actors meet through human actors.
In 2012, they established and run ScreenSaverGallery, an online exhibition project accessible as a screensaver on a user’s personal computer. At present, both of them work as doctoral Candidates at the Faculty of Fine Arts in Brno University of Technology, which they completed in their previous studies. At the same time, Tomáš Javůrek is an assistant at the Photography Studio at FaVU and also works as an assistant professor at the Department of Intermedia at the Academy of Fine Arts and Design in Bratislava. They recently opened a discussion about big data and art in Czech republic with the ongoing project Datatata (https://datatata.info/).
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Artist: Emilie Gervais
Emilie Gervais’ work focuses on languages, play and network culture while exploring the relationships between internet, art and its mediation, addressing topics such as identity, aesthetics, functionality, materiality and www archeology.
Set: Lonely Machines
is a speculative realtime renderization of feelings of neglected technoscientific agencies in outer space. It is a sticker set from lonesome machines from spatial exploration first published in the Telegram group “Zentrum für Netzkunst”.
For humans, machines are “either serviceable or threatening” (Puig, 2011). They socially function “as mediators – that is, actors endowed with the capacity to translate what they transport, to redefine it, redeploy it, and also to betray it” (Latour, 1993: 81 qtd. in Puig). Sometimes, added to this intrinsic value, comes the technological fate of becoming spatial debris or ending in an endless idle.
Do these machines have feelings? Are they capable of having an aesthetic experience?
Artist: Nieves de la Fuenteis an artist living and working between Madrid and Cologne. She is also a Research Assistant at the Academy of Arts Burg Giebichenstein investigating with VR, media installations and interactive experiences.
The stickers are an extension of an ongoing project into the life of algorithms.
It’s a collection of designs that explore the elegance and personality of classic and famous computer science algorithms and problems.
Artist: Thiago Hersanused to be an integrated circuit designer. Now, he works with art, education and communication.
To see faces in random compilations of objects is a natural thing. Just like the wish to adorn yourself with something that makes you feel prettier, like jewellery. The consequence of this observation is as clear as a flawless diamond: The world needs Telegram Stickers in the form of jewellery. To express feelings with a glimpse of glamour in the everyday Telegram conversation.
Working on her Diploma in Jewellery Art at Burg Giebichenstein University of Art and Design, Marie Luise Möller investigates status symbols, the human desire to own wickedly expensive jewels, group affiliation and how to deal with all this. Creating jewellery Telegram Stickers is now part of her Diploma in which she first started to make analogue, sticky stickers from expensive “classics” like the Tiffany engagement ring, the Cartier love bracelet, the Rolex watch and others.
On the other hand Marie Luise Möller treasured up boxes full of old, cast-off jewellery over uncountable years. This cast-off jewellery from other people is filled with forgotten memories and weighs a lot – physically and mentally. This unhappy family of shabby adornment deserves a new life, but let them speak for themselves!