Digital Echo, 2024, ©Janet Biggs

From May 16 to June 26, 2024, the Analix Forever gallery presented the exhibition ‘Hable con ella – Dialogues avec l’IA’, a proposal by Marta Ponsa, head of artistic projects and cultural action at the Jeu de Paume in Paris. In this exhibition, four artists – Aurélien Bambagioni, Janet Biggs, Max de Esteban and Gwenola Wagon – explored artificial intelligence and its processes through video and photography. While search engines, chatbots and facial recognition software become humans’ assistants and invade our daily lives, artists consider AI as a possible collaborator in the creative process. Janet Biggs, artist, researcher and explorer of the extreme, extends her artistic research and presents A.I. Anne, an ‘artificial installation’ which is also a work of memory. Biggs created A.I. Anne using memories of her autistic aunt and as a way to advocate for the inclusion of neurodiversity in the programming of AIs and their databases. A scientific, poetic, artistic and inclusive project – which is all but artificial.

Janet Biggs, a witness artist of the missing voices

Janet Biggs, multidisciplinary American artist is known for her work in video, film and performance. In search of extreme environments and their inhabitants, she travels the world, documenting, among others, the lives of Arctic explorers and those of sulfur miners in an active volcano. Biggs often exhibited with Analix Forever: ‘Airs Above the Ground’ (2014), ‘RAINBOW’ (2022), ‘une écologie des images’ (2024). She is a member of the New Museum’s Cultural Incubator, NEW INC, and has worked with institutions such as NASA and CERN. In 2004, she was granted an Anonymous Was a Woman Award; in 2018, the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation fellowship, and in 2022 the Visionary Woman Award from the Moore College of Art and Design.

For ‘Hable con ella – Dialogues avec l’IA’ Biggs presented A.I. Anne, an artificial intelligence inspired by her autistic aunt, who suffered from apraxia, a pathology that prohibited her ability to speak. A.I. Anne is developed in collaboration with Richard Savery, a musical AI programmer, and Mary Esther Carter, A.I. Anne’s main vocal trainer. Based on human Anne’s behaviors and communication methods, A.I. Anne responds to humans’ emotions through increasingly elaborate vocalizations.

Ileana Munoz and A.I. Anne, a dynamic symphony between human and AI

After taking part in a series of performances with Mary Esther Carter in the United States, A.I. Anne was for the first time invited to Europe, thanks to Marta Ponsa. During the opening, the artificial intelligence initiated a musical dialog with Ileana Muñoz.1 For their first meeting, A.I. Anne was skeptical and hesitant to respond to Ileana Munoz’s voice. But it didn’t take long for the two of them to get to know, listen to, and understand each other. Their spontaneous exchange turned into a melodious dialogue, where the voices intertwined at times. Moving around the room, Ileana Muñoz gave free rein to her emotions and paid attention to every input from A.I. Anne, who listened carefully and responded instantly, or sometimes waited for additional sounds or vocalizations. The audience, around the installation, was captivated by this exchange.

Brice Catherin, a transverse duo between cellist and programme

Brice Catherin,2 musical artist, also interacted with A.I. Anne in his own unique way, using his cello: the cellist recorded a musical duet with A.I. Anne, creating a symbiosis between human and machine. Brice Catherin sought to establish a common ground with A.I. Anne, bringing back familiar sound memories. After the connection with A.I. Anne was established, Brice Catherin improvised freely, oscillating between high and low registers. This innovative interaction between instrumental sound and artificial voice gave birth to a novel musical language, which became the soundtrack of Digital Echo, the video work by Janet Biggs presented in ‘Hable con ella – Dialogues avec l’IA’. 

Projected on three screens, Digital Echo brings together the worlds of Anne, A.I. Anne and the artist herself, interweaving poems of affection, scientific archives, and nostalgic memories. After taking care of her for ten years, Janet Biggs shares with us their moments of life and the story behind them. Carried by dream, imagination and freedom, this work immerses the viewer into a soft and surreal atmosphere. Janet Biggs used Chat GPT 3-5 to write ‘Talk to me without words’, a poetic phrase that sounds like a declaration to her aunt Anne.

The universe created by the artist and her aunt is now open to other explorers. A.I. Anne transcends the boundaries of human expression and invites us to reflect on the nature of communication: understanding each other without speaking the same language – the meaning of each word and the syntax doesn’t matter anymore. For A.I. Anne, the essential is inside each person, following the vibrations of the voice and the emotions of individuals that she meets. Biggs’ work reflects the power of art to connect people by exploring new forms of dialogue. Furthermore, by including people who are marginalized by their disabilities in the making of the databases, the artist and her collaborators are paving the way for the development of AIs that are more ethical and more representative of human diversity.

A.I. Anne, a work of discovery and surprise, is captivating. Some visitors open the gallery door and ask: ‘Can I speak with the AI?’. Whispers, songs, or questions – this curiosity offers to the public a personal and intimate experience. Thanks to each of them, A.I. Anne continues to grow and learn every day, becoming, in a certain way a spokesperson for missing voices.

  1. Soprano singer from Mexico, Muñoz studied at the Conservatoire Régional in Paris and the Conservatorio Luigi Cherubini in Florence, before she obtained a Master’s degree in Interpretation from the Haute École de Musique in Geneva. The soprano has performed with various ensembles, including the a cappella vocal quartet Nikian Ompa, as well as with conductors like John Nelson, Kenneth Weiss and Leonardo Garcìa Alarcón. In 2021, she created with the pianist Nikias Imhoof, Ensemble Voyageur, a duo who explore the musical and cultural exchanges between Europe and Latin America. ↩︎
  2. With a PhD in music composition from the University of Hull, Catherin has been a performer and musician for eighteen years, and also has seven years’ experience as an art researcher. He has exhibited at the Dai Hall in Huddersfield, in the United Kingdom, and at the Théâtre Saint-Gervais in Geneva. His concerts took place at Galerie Hall Nord in Geneva, Phoenix in Valenciennes, and The Peer Hat in Manchester.  ↩︎

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