Art museum

Smithsonian Art Museum unveils interactive voice sculpture in artificial intelligence


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A new interactive sculpture at Smithsonian’s Arts and Industries Building (AIB) translates spoken words into color and light. Artist Suchi Reddy and Amazon Web Services produced the piece titled “You + Me” for the FUTURES exhibit by linking AWS voice AI technology to sculpture, transforming it with each visitor’s description of the future.

Voices of the future

The new sculpture is 25 feet tall and 20 feet wide and is located in the AIB Rotunda, where Thomas Edison first introduced electric lights in Washington, DC. Suchi named me + you as a reflection of the “collective conscience of society” and their thoughts on the future. When visitors approach the sculpture, they can share their thoughts and feelings about the future, indicating “my future look” and filling in their personal ideas. The words are picked up by microphones around the sculpture and sent to the cloud, where AWS uses AI to translate them into corresponding lights and colors corresponding to the themes of the statements.

Reddy and AWS worked on the coin for two years, applying tools like Amazon Transcribe, Amazon Comprehend, and a custom Amazon SageMaker template. Those interested who cannot access the physical sculpture can play with the algorithm online. The sculpture is covered with thin sheets of LEDs and light diffusers, as well as paper and acrylic tubes to modify the shape and glow of the room. The idea is to make art always in motion to reflect what visitors are saying.

“My original vision for me + you was to bring humanity to technology and create a sense of connectedness across the world, which seems more relevant than ever after the distance we all felt during the pandemic,” Reddy said as he unveiled the artwork. “Working with AWS, I gained a deep appreciation for AI and enjoyed exploring the possibilities it offers as a creative and artistic medium. me + you combines human and computational creativity, and I can’t wait to see how audiences react and can be inspired by this piece.

Artistic AI

The new sculpture is part of a growing trend linking vocal AI and art. It’s not even the first in Washington. A fully interactive museum called Planet Word opened in the city last year. Planet Word mixes art and AI for exhibits like a word wall sharing the history of English where what visitors say affects which words come to light. There are also exhibits with smart brushes for drawing words and a room for practicing conversations with speakers of rare languages. The experiments also extend to voice AI at home. Nvidia recently launched the GauGAN2 tool, which can transform speech and text into lifelike paintings, similar to what Russian voice assistant Yandex offers. The new sculpture, however, focuses on connecting this technology to a larger public place.

“Me + lets people share their thoughts and feelings in an interactive work of art using the power of AI. Reddy’s vision and artistry, combined with the power of the cloud, has created an awe-inspiring piece of art that is sure to delight anyone who engages in it, ”said vice president of machine learning at ‘Amazon Swami Sivasubramanian in a statement. “We are grateful for this opportunity to show how beautiful and accessible technology can be, and hope this project inspires current and future generations of artists and technologists to collaborate and invent new creations. “

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