Between September 25th and 29th 2023, we organised the 8th Dance Hack in Oulu, Finland. Joining TaikaBox in the studio were four dance artists from Europe and one from Tanzania (via video link), a local dance artist, two sound designers, a media/AI artist and two musicians. For four and half days, the team improvised and analysed, developing unique systems that combine technology and performance. We chatted with them about their expectations on tech, the role of AI in art, and how they see their artistry in the future.
TaikaBox: What made you apply to Oulu Dance Hack?
Laura Lille: For months now, I’ve been trying to take my passion for technology and put it in my art practice, as a creator. So, when I saw Oulu Dance Hack, I saw it as a perfect playground to meet other artists and technologists, and see what we could research together.
Amit Palgi: When I saw the application, I got really excited – it felt like I had found someone who had the same curiosity as me, someone who was busy in dance and technology in a very artistic way, trying to use the existing tools in a way that can develop dance and storytelling. The past few days have been full of information, and it’s both exciting and overwhelming. The mix of people, all the different backgrounds and all the technology and tools. There are so many possible directions.
Laura: Sometimes you don’t have access to a certain tool, so I was really excited to come here and use Kinetic, programming and other tools. So far the experience has been really interesting, a lot of information and a really great team, and I’m really happy to research and explore. I do try and fail, it’s nice.
Milica Tancic: As Gen-Z, I use technology in my everyday life, every second that I am awake. So I was curious to expand ways to use technology in my artistic practice and exchange ideas with other artists. It’s been… I won’t say an overload of information, but there has been a lot of information and inputs. I see a lot of possibilities, but I think I need to narrow it down – we all bring so much information.
Do you think new innovations will affect your role in what you do?
Amit: I think that new innovations will definitely change how we all work, and what the world will look like. I do feel that the main thing I’m doing as an artist is be creative, and this creativity will be used in the future no matter what situation I and we will be in. I’m sure it will influence who I am and what my work will be, but I think it will not change the core of the need of creativity and new input, the out of the box and out of the system ideas and storytelling that regard us human beings. That core will stay, no matter what role AI will have.
Tomi Knuutila: Tech has always been used in the arts, there have been several technological applications. When you think of the renaissance artists, for example – the use of perspective was purely a technological innovation, there was the laterna magicka for precise imaging, not to mention when electricity was introduced. Duchamp’s light works or the kinetic sculptures in the 50’s. During the renaissance times, there was no science and arts separated, everyone did everything. It was only during romantic times when these began to get separated, art became something elevated and the modern artist became an auteur.
Milica: I think they are already affecting my world as an artist, or making me rethink my world as an artist – what I want to produce in the art field and how I relate to my practice. What are our possibilities, what are our interests, how is it possible to still call yourself a dance artist when things can happen so far from your body?
With digitalisation, experiencing yourself as an artist has become easier in the digital world – for instance, everyone can create music in their own bedroom.
Tomi: There’s a low threshold to learn the tools, but that too seems to lower down. For instance, now you can ask AI to make a picture and it does so. Sure, at one point the idea of artistry begins to blur.
Laura: Speaking just for myself, I’m really interested in how we can incorporate all this [new] technology into the process of creation – more as a co-creator, not with the goal to replace the human.
The cycle of technological development seems to have shortened, especially with AI.
Tomi: The boom is still on, and new stuff comes up every week. It would take quite an effort to be up to speed with everything that there now is. But I read somewhere that unless AI brings the world some greater good or makes a lot of money, it will go away, like any technology. It seems to boil down to revenue generation models.
All the big players now have their own AI.
Tomi: Many AIs: Meta has AI for text, images, video, audio, Google likewise, and so on. Stability II, the publisher of Stable Diffusion, just released Stable Audio. It’s a bit strange situation. Currently AI-created artist copies are gaining traction, like AI Drake recently. Voice talents and voice actors have started licensing their voices, and get compensation every time their voice is used as a base in a production.
Then there is the problem of deep fakes. People aren’t necessarily media savvy enough to suspect the reality of a video.
Tomi: That’s a grey zone. Every technology invented has been abused either intentionally or unintentionally. Then there’s the question of parody, which can also be used as a tool for power – if you’re the underdog, parody is more accepted, but if you’re already in power, it seems like bullying. Just watch the ads for the U.S. presidential election, it’s brutal.
Tomi Knuutila is a senior lecturer in the University of Lapland and a media artist.