House of Electronic Arts Basel opens an international group show

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House of Electronic Arts Basel opens an international group show
Lucy McRae, Solitary Survival Raft, 2020. Studio shot. Photo: Ariel Fisher. Commissioned by HeK and MU for Real Feelings. Courtesy: the artist.

BASEL.- Emotions are at the core of human experience. Love them or hate them, they influence every aspect of our lives and shape our social behaviour. In the 21st century, technology has begun engaging with emotions like it has never done before. Real Feelings presents works by 20 artists, ranging from artificial intelligence, interactive installations, robotics and biometrics to gaming, video installations, virtual reality and photography. They explore how technologies are collating, assessing or triggering our emotions in multiple ways and directions. These technologies are even creating new feelings, some of which we haven’t yet found the words to describe them with. Several works will be newly produced in the context of the exhibition and can be seen for the first time.

In the 21st century, emotions have increasingly come into focus—how they can be manipulated and controlled by technology because they influence our society and our lives. Today major technology companies try to manipulate the way we behave by triggering our emotions every day through smartphones, laptops and personal devices. Researchers at the MIT media lab have developed a machine learning system that "reads" facial expressions to determine human emotions. At the same time, young children are being trained to recognise emotions in other human beings—because their ability to do so is failing in the digital age. The barriers between human and machine, emotion, and technology seem to be breaking down. Our heartbeat, perspiration, speech, or body language are checked by smart watches or fitness trackers, webcams, and facial and body recognition systems. In the 21st century, we are seeing the rise of investigations into emotional technology, which stands for measuring biometric data in order to detect and respond to our emotions, which is then used as data input for various digital applications. Advances in machine learning have enabled emotion recognition with AI. Our world is flooded with digital technology and these devices have literally become extensions of ourselves: humanlike robots are used in healthcare, sex robots are compensating the shortcomings of human relationships, smart devices are listening to our conversations and are taking care of our needs—we are communicating more with our technology than with other humans.

As the emotional intelligence gap between humans and machines grows narrower – do we actually know how we really feel? Who is in control of our emotions now? Is technology beginning to influence how we feel? These difficult questions and more are raised in the course of the exhibition as visitors encoun­ter diverse works that challenge, provoke, and explore how technology is representing, influencing and changing our emotions.

A comprehensive catalog will be published to accompany the exhibition, documenting the works in the exhibition and featuring current scientific and artistic contributions. It includes a contribution on robots and emotions by renowned neuroscientist Antonio Damasio, a text on surveillance capitalism by the author Ariane Koek, and an essay by British artist Cécile B. Evans. An extensive program of events and educational activities is also planned, including a colloquium in collaboration with TA SWISS, the Foundation for Technology Assessment, on the subject of “Social Robots“ on October 21, 2020, and the performance Cyberia by Maria Guta & Adrian Ganea—a dancing interaction between a human dancer and a virtual avatar on November 13 and 14, 2020. A digital program in collaboration with the Ars Electronica Festival 2020 features artist talks with Simone C. Niquille, Lucy McRae & Lauren Lee McCarthy.

Artists: Antoine Catala, Stine Deja & Marie Munk, Heather Dewey-Hagborg, Justine Emard, Cécile B. Evans, Ed Fornieles, Maria Guta & Adrian Ganea, Esther Hunziker, Seokyung Kim, Clément Lambelet, Lorem, Lauren Lee McCarthy & Kyle McDonald, Simone C. Niquille, Dani Ploeger, Lucy McRae, Shinseungback Kimyonghun, Maija Tammi, Troika, Coralie Vogelaar, Liam Young

Curators: Sabine Himmelsbach, Ariane Koek und Angelique Spaninks

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