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Philipp Schmitt

Phillip Schmitt is a Brooklyn-based artist addressing the automation of perception, and notions of opacity in artificial intelligence.

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Philipp Schmitt (b. 1993, Germany) is an artist, designer, and researcher based in Brooklyn, NY, USA. His practice engages with the philosophical, poetic, and political dimensions of computation by examining the ever-shifting discrepancy between what is computable in theory and in reality. Philipp’s work has been exhibited in Uncanny Values ….

Selected AI Artworks:

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The Chair Project (Four Classics)

AI-designed, human-executed chairs. Exploring co-design with AI, they suggest ways of looking that de-center the human; yet are completely useless, an irony of AI solutionism.


Computed Curation

This photobook is made up of pictures taken by Schmitt, but is curated using various computer algorithms that caption each picture, categorize it using tags, analyze the composition, try to figure out the content, and then arrange them in a way that would be a continuous flow.

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25 AI-generated beatles.


Why Would You Want to Picture it

Phillip Schmitt on using Artificial Intelligence in an interview for Riding the Dragon:

Tell us about your algorithm-based book Computed Curation?

  • “The photobook includes pictures that I’ve taken over the last five to seven years, and is curated by using various computer algorithms that caption each picture, categorize it using tags, analyze the composition, try to figure out the content, and then arrange them in a way that would be a continuous flow. Obviously a computer would not or could not curate in the same way a human would, so through this algorithmic lens things end up close to each other that I would never connect myself. The computer has no intelligence whatsoever—it’s just a sort of mathematical logic that created this—but as a human I can project so much onto what I see. There are some strange and fun connections, which you can interpret as poetic if you want to. But there are also flaws where you can see the shortcomings of the computer, for example a picture of a person that has their hand next to a trash can ends up being labelled as “a man throwing a frisbee.” At first this can seem a little silly, but if you look a bit more into the politics of the computer vision world, you can understand it happens this way, and that it’s not random nor AI.”

How do you feel about the emergence and impact of AI?

  • “To me, it’s really exciting that I can put a picture into a computer and out comes a label that tells me that it contains an apple, even though nobody programmed the rules to do this and somehow the program figured it out by looking at a lot of apples. I think technology is extremely fascinating but, on the other hand, this technology is being used in some very problematic cases where not only does it not work well but we shouldn’t be using technology at all in the first place. It’s enabling even more computational surveillance, both for military use and by capitalist corporations. As a tinkerer and an artist I’m extremely excited. As a citizen, I’m concerned.”

Where do you put the ethical boundary around this technology?

  • “I don’t know. There will always be applications that are beneficial. Well, if you have a great government surveillance camera system, it’s beneficial for some, just not for many others who don’t have any real power. So, I think that no matter what gets made, nothing is exclusively for good when it comes to technology; it’s always much more complicated than that. But also, speaking for myself, I’m far less concerned about a robotic takeover or the singularity than I am about even more extreme exploitative capitalism or surveillance. I don’t see the robot apocalypse as the problem.”

Schmitt’s Awards & Nominations:

  • 2017 Infinity Awards (Nomination). International Center for Photography, New York

  • 2017 NTU International Photography Awards (Second Prize). Singapore

  • 2017 DAAD Scholarship. German Academic Exchange Service

  • 2017 Provost Scholarship. Parsons / The New School

  • 2017 20th Japan Media Arts Festival (Jury Selection). Tokyo

  • 2015 German Youth Film Award (Nomination)

  • 2015 Nachwuchspreis Neue Medien

  • 2015 German National Scholarship Program (Deutschlandstipendium)

Schmitt’s Selected Exhibitions:

  • 2019 Lying Sophia and Mocking Alexa. Hyundai Motorstudio Beijing

  • 2019 Uncanny Values: Artificial Intelligence and You. Vienna Biennale, MAK Interfacce del presente. Link Art Center, BASE Milano

  • 2019 Broken Nature: Design takes on Human Survival. XXII Triennale di Milano

  • 2018 Duo Show * with Markus Wulf. German Consulate General, New York

  • 2018 ECCV Art Gallery. Munich

  • 2018 Art of Networks III. Northeastern University, Boston

  • 2017 IEEE VIS Arts Program. Phoenix

  • 2017 How Will We Work? Vienna Biennale, Angewandte Innovation Laboratory, Vienna

  • 2017 Hello, Robot. Vitra Design Museum, Weil am Rhein

  • 2017 Machine Made: Art, Robots and AI. QUAD, Derby

  • 2016 Seeing. Science Gallery Dublin

  • 2016 IEEE VIS Arts Program. Baltimore

Schmitt’s Selected Talks & Residencies:

  • 2019 Runway AI. Artist in Residence

  • 2019 New York Hall of Science. Talk

  • 2018 Speculative Futures NYC. Talk

  • 2017 Digital City Design Workshop. Talk. Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Boston

  • 2017 This Happened. Talk. Braunschweig University of Art (HBK)

Schmitt’s Selected Press:

Learn more about Philipp Schmitt: