Artists Statement: The notion of embodiment is built upon the argument that intelligence is shaped by the body. AI researchers Pfeifer and Bongard argue that our thoughts have their foundation in our embodiment—in our morphology and the material properties of our bodies. Furthermore, they argue, embodied intelligence, has important implications for our understanding of both natural and artificial intelligence.
Found upon this argument, we intended to explore the idea of a sonic intelligence: learning, experiencing, reacting, and finally, “thinking” in sound. Can we model such a system? A system with a body whose morphology is based on picking up and sending sound signals, a system who can learn and evolve in its response, a pseudo ‘being’...
In an effort to explore such sonic ‘being’, we were inspired by the notion of umwelt, as described by Jakob Von Uexküll. Umwelt is a model of an organism’s relationship to its environment. It examines the subjective experience of the surrounding world by the individual organism through its specific morphology, sensory and motor network.
So, we algorithmically generated a model for an (imagined) organism with a physical body: HIVE. HIVE exists in purely acoustical umwelt. Its only mode of sensing and responding to its environment is through sound, which is thoroughly reflected in its morphology. It is comprised of an exoskeleton whose internal structure of tightly packed horn-like tubes act as acoustical waveguides amplifying, filtering, and diffusing the sound from the 16 embedded transducers.
In addition to this, several different types of sound-based sensors extend from this exoskeleton. It listens, senses distances and footsteps. We exist in its world through only acoustic signals. This is our sonic reflection, our sonic foot-print. Threatening or friendly, HIVE ‘learns’ from this sonic image of its environment and modulate its responses, reflexively creating a world of sound with its audience.
Artist(s): Sölen Kiratli, Re Touch Lab, Systemics Lab, Media Arts and Technology Program, University of California, Santa Barbara
Akshay Cadambi, Re Touch Lab, Systemics Lab, Media Arts and Technology Program, University of California, Santa Barbara