The Library collaborated with the Goethe Institut Glasgow, Alliance Française Glasgow, the Institut Français d’Ecosse and NEON Arts Festival with their ‘AI in Residence’ programme.

In 2021 the Library took part in the collaborative ‘AI in Residence’ programme, hosting Marion Carré as our Artist in Residence. Over the course of the year, Marion used the Broadsides dataset to create her work, ‘Is it true? The Post-truth Archive Factory’, a three-part piece exploring the role of AI in highlighting issues around the ‘truth’ of the archive. Her work was exhibited in Glasgow in December 2021.

Find out more about Marion Carré: Marion Carré’s website

‘Is it true? The Post-truth Archive Factory’

Exhibition: 8 December 2021-6 January 2022, Monday-Friday 1000-1730

Location: The Briggait, Glasgow

Is it true? is the result of an entanglement between archives and artificial intelligence exploring our relationship to the truth and its counterfeits.

This project presents a triptych of artworks which deliberately blur the boundaries between true and false. By using archives considered to be the ancestors of the tabloids – which have therefore created a complex relationship with reality – Marion Carré generated false textual archives using artificial intelligence. In producing a form of ‘mise en abyme’ of the fictitious, she created three artworks using authentic and generated archives to question the conditions of their production, perception and circulation.

Perceived as absolute and unchanging, together the archive and the truth make us forget their complexity and the constructions from which they originate. In the context of liminality between what is true and what is false and the continuous flood of information, we sanctify the truth while participating in the spread of false information in its quest. These forged truths become proof to build our own, freed from reality. If our individual memories are corruptible, how immune is our collective memory to false information?

Image: copyright Marion Carré, used with permission

‘Selective Memories’ (part 3 of Is it true?)

Visit the project website and participate: Selective Memories

Text by Marion Carré:

Selective Memories is an online participative artwork that is part of a triptych of artworks establishing parallels between the construction of the archive and the construction of the truth in order to question in hollow that of false information.

It proposes to its participants to choose, for each text which is presented to them, if it deserves to be archived or destroyed according to them. These texts have the particularity of being for a part of them authentic archive texts (the mother archives) and for the other fictitious texts generated with the help of an artificial intelligence (the daughter archives). The mother archives are texts from the Broadsides dataset. Known as the ‘ancestors’ of the tabloids, these archives have a complex relationship with the truth. The selected texts are either texts recounting trials, which present here a form of mise en abyme of the relationship to reality, or texts that relate very surprising facts to the point of doubting that they really took place. These texts rarely leave us unmoved because they carry an emotional charge that further disturbs our appreciation of past events by establishing a particular connection with them. They were used to train the artificial intelligence algorithm that generated the fictitious texts of the daughter archives. They share with the mother archives the subjects treated as well as the page layout.

All the texts are displayed randomly and presented on the same plane, in an identical format, thus reproducing the phenomenon of loss of reference points that social networks create with regard to the information they relay. In order to respond to the injunction given to them, users must still find indicators to decide which texts to keep or destroy. Will verisimilitude be the only criteria? Will the emotion that certain texts can provoke get in the way? Can ‘fake’ texts manage to produce such emotions in their readers? What place does emotion have in our apprehension of the true and the false?

Selective Memories calls upon a reflex that we use every day in our use of social networks: to separate the true from the false in the information that is presented. However this work, often unconscious, is not without consequences for our memory in which can slip false information to the point of developing false memories. In this case, the mechanism is reversed: the participants think they are consulting archival texts whose format does not allow them to identify at first glance which ones are authentic or not. It is only after having indicated their choice to archive or destroy a text that they discover the existence of this parameter which can potentially call into question its validity.

About the AI in Residence collaboration

The new cultural collaboration between the Goethe-Institut Glasgow and the Alliance Française Glasgow (together with the Institut Français d’Ecosse) aims at uniting technology and art, thus creating a new approach to an increasingly central topic. 

In response to the impact felt by the cultural sector as a result of the Covid-19 global health crisis, we have reframed our initial residency project and transformed it into a purely digital one. The French and German cultural centres based in Scotland are inviting three contemporary artists based in France, Scotland and Germany to apply for this digital residency programme taking place between November 2020 and December 2021.

The programme consists of online residencies which will contribute to the interdisciplinary discourse between artists and partners around the topic of Artificial Intelligence. The remote residency will allow the artists to continue to work from their own space with the digital support of partners: The National Library of Scotland, the Social Brain in Action Lab and the NEoN Festival of Digital Arts. A dialogue will be created around artificial intelligence, between the artists, the partners and an online audience.

In December 2020, the three selected artists will introduce themselves and their methods to a wider audience on NEoN Festival of Digital Arts’ digital platform. They will then develop further ideas while taking part in remotely held input sessions and workshops from our partners and from experts in the field of Artificial Intelligence. Finally, artists will present the outcome of their work on a digital platform or -if possible- in a physical way with the support of NEoN Festival of Digital Arts and the Centre for Contemporary Arts in Glasgow.

The residency is directed at contemporary emerging artists whose practice revolves around Artificial Intelligence. The particular interest of the practitioners should be centred on the following:

– AI applications and their impact on our historical and cultural memories that are held in physical archives and libraries.

– AI technology and its impact on our future social relations and behaviour, in regards to developments in robotic engineering.

The aim of the project is to contribute to the discussion around the use of Artificial Intelligence from an interdisciplinary perspective and to make the discourse around AI technology accessible to a wider public. Artists will be working collaboratively and they are asked to deliver their final outcome within the year 2021.

This programme is supported through the Fonds culturel franco-allemand (Franco-German cultural fund).

Find out more

Visit the Goethe Institut website: Artificial Intelligence in Residence: the Goethe Institut