AI Symposium

12.12.2018 from 11:00 to 17:00

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

from 11 am until 5 pm

Conference Hall


Castello di Rivoli launches a symposium on Artificial Intelligence with the participation of theorists, privacy and data management experts, consultants in the field of architecture and security development systems, chosen with artist Hito Steyerl. TitledThe City of Broken Windows,Hito Steyerl’snew sound and video-based multimedia installation presented in the Manica Lunga at Castello di Rivoli, drafted by Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev and Marianna Vecellio, stems from her research into Artificial Intelligence industry practices and surveillance technologies.Through this work, Steyerl explores how AI affects our urban environment and how alternative practices may emerge through pictorial acts in the public space. The City of Broken Windows revolves around altered sounds resembling atonal and discordant symphonies. These recordings document how robots (artificial intelligence) are taught to recognize the sound of breaking windows, a reference to both the industry and technology of surveillance. In this context, the symposium aims to critically explore the philosophical, economic and political consequences of the development of the digital system globally and it looks at the technologies which collect, manage and interpret data, allowing for the development of the artificial intelligence industry. Privacy, new forms of surveillance, the ontological question of who and what are human beings in the age of artificial intelligence, and the recognition of an ‘age of liquid crystals’, are some of the issues that will be addressed.




Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev, Welcome

11 am – 11.15 am


Hito Steyerl and Jules Laplace, How to Teach Machines To Break Glass

11.15 am – 12 pm


The application of machine learning to art is still new and slowly becoming understood.  In this lecture, we will describe our experience using neural networks to generate sound for this exhibition and the particular challenges in teaching a computer to break glass, and even to do so musically.  Additionally, we will show how this research led us to study sonic complexity, and demonstrate strange new sounds generated by the AI. 

Hito Steyerl (Munich, 1967) is a filmmaker, visual artist and theorist. In 1987 she moved to Japan, where she studied at the Japan Institute of the Moving Image in Tokyo. Between1992and 1998, she returned to Germany to attend documentary filmmaking course at the HFF in Munich. In 2003, she achieved a PhD in Philosophy at the Akademie der bildenden Künste in Vienna. Her work and her writings focus on the media’s pervasive presence in the age of globalization, violence in the digital era, the use of technology within the military milieu, and the production and mass-dissemination of digital images. She has expressed her critical thinking in immersive video installations, such as Liquidity Inc., 2014, and Hell Yeah We Fuck Die, 2016, which focus on the pervasive nature of the digital language and on the features and consequences of artificial intelligence in the contemporary world. Today, Steyerl is professor in experimental film and video at the Universität der Künste in Berlin.

Jules Laplace is an artist and programmer who uses technology to create new art-making practices online and off.  He is based in Berlin, where he works with the artists Hito Steyerl, Holly Herndon and Adam Harvey and has shown his art at Panke Gallery.  His sound work “The Neural Auctioneer” was recently selected for the NeurIPS 2018 Workshop on Machine Learning for Creativity.  Until 2017 he was CTO of OKFocus, a boutique digital agency based in NYC with clients including Google, Red Bull and the Met Museum.  Previously he was sous chef with a west coast food hacking collective and toured the US and Europe hosting renegade supper clubs.


Esther Leslie, Turbid media and the intelligence of liquid crystals

12 pm – 12.45 pm

Techno-science is now unthinkable without the intelligence of the liquid crystal. It makes possible the very application of intelligence in its data-crunching algorithmic somersaults, in the form of government and commercial intelligences. Liquid crystal enables the virtual border guard, iBorderCTRL, who determines if the stranger is telling lies or truth, which are the conditions of the stranger’s entry into states. This paper posits a deep history of intelligence wrapped up in the liquid and the crystal and asks how the extending vocabularies of qualified intelligence – military, emotional, artificial – are augmented in the age of the device, and with the emergence of device intelligence, whose capacities include pre-cognition, and in whose future lies the promise of radical atomic intelligence.

Esther Leslie is Professor of Political Aesthetics at Birkbeck, University of London. Her books include various studies and translations of Walter Benjamin, as well as Hollywood Flatlands: Animation, Critical Theory and the Avant-Garde (Verso, 2002); Synthetic Worlds: Nature, Art and the Chemical Industry (Reaktion, 2005); Derelicts: Thought Worms from the Wreckage (Unkant, 2014), Liquid Crystals: The Science and Art of a Fluid Form (Reaktion, 2016) and Deeper in the Pyramid (with Melanie Jackson: Banner Repeater, 2018).

12.45 pm – Q&A and Discussion

1 pm – Lunch


Anne Roth, Mass Surveillance and Pattern Recognition in Big Data

2 – 2.45 pm

For five years now we know about mass surveillance targeting everyone using modern communication – in 2013 Edward Snowden revealed to the world what until then was only known to a few experts. The talk will explore the use of mass data and pattern recognition by police and secret services.

A political scientist by education, Anne Roth is senior advisor for digital policy for the ‘Left Party’ in the German federal parliament. She co-founded the first interactive media activist website, Indymedia, in Germany in 2001 and has been involved with media and digital rights activism ever since. She was senior advisor for the Parliamentary Inquiry on Mass Surveillance of the German Bundestag 2014 – 2017. Until August 2014 she was a member of the Tactical Technology Collective with a focus on digital security and tracking, primarily directed at activists and communities at risk.


Eleanor Saitta, Statistical Automation and the Death of Enlightenment

2.45 – 3.30 pm

The concept of artificial intelligence is mostly a false flag for very old processes that are simply being run faster and at a larger scale, but it’s a useful shibboleth for entities attempting social control in what is largely a post-rational world. The Age of Systems is our next epochal war, and from it, the survivors will emerge into a fundamentally different way of understanding themselves, their states and societies, and this thing we currently call the “tech industry”.

Eleanor Saitta is a hacker, designer, artist, writer, and barbarian. She makes a living and a vocation of understanding how complex transdisciplinary systems and stories fail and redesigning them to fail better. Saitta runs Systems Structure Ltd., a boutique security architecture and strategy consultancy that works with firms seeking to build or grow security practices or specific high-exposure products, advises news organizations and NGOs targeted by nation states, and builds immersive transmedia participation events.  She is also a member of the advisory boards of the Freedom of the Press Foundation, the IFTF Governance Futures Lab, and the Calyx Institute, and works on the Trike security ecosystem modeling project and the Briar/Bramble distributed messaging system. Saitta is a regular speaker at conferences, universities, and other institutions including the O’Reilly Velocity, KiwiCon, CCC Congress, Hack in The Box, Transmediale, ToorCon, Knutepunk, HOPE, Arse Electronika, Harvard, Yale, and the London ICA.

3.30 – Q&A and Discussion

4 – 5 pm – Conversation between participants and possible conclusion


The Symposium was made possible thanks to Goethe-Institut Turin


With thanks to




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Free admission at the Symposium.

Booking requested:




11:00 - 17:00