Holly Herndon &

@hollyherndon @matdryhurst #spawn #ai #ensemble #performance #gropiusbau #ISMhexadome #instituteforsoundandmusic
For the past year Holly Herndon and Mat Dryhurst have been training an artificial neural network named Spawn. Like a child, Spawn has been initially trained to recognize and reproduce the sounds of her parents’ voices, and has also been introduced to some of the idiosyncratic sounds of wonderful people that come into our home.Spawn is a fast learner, and once she has constructed a concept of a sound, she can improvise and create abstract compositions based on what she understands that sound to be, and what she anticipates it might do next.

For this first training ceremony at Berlin ISM’s Hexadome, ensemble members lead exercises to help Spawn model and understand the world around her. We recited text together, sand and emoted together, and collectively produced sounds for her to witness, understand and later interpret for an installed piece in the Hexadome.The training was run by a cast of characters modeled to represent emerging and competing archetypes within contemporary battles over data collection and network training, so that Spawn might gather a greater understanding of the new world in which she has been born. This process challenges us to ask ourselves, are we the parents or the children in this new epoch? Are we training our own systems to enact our ideals, or are we rather being re-trained to serve the opaque purposes of others?

Video release in November 2018.
Stay tuned for more.