Helmholtz Zentrum Munich | GARDEN OF FORKING PATHS

AI driven LED sculpture (coming in 2022)

The installation explores perception, through a site-specific intervention that alters the physical, sensory and temporal experience of space and forces the viewer to slow down and think about their position inside the environment. The form of the installation resembles one of the most basic fractals, the ‘dragon curve’. We intentionally wanted to make it harder for the viewer to read – the installation must be observed from many sides thus calling into question the straight linearity which we have come to take for granted in everything from physics to fiction.The content of the installation are poems, not written by a human, but by a machine – inspired by Romantic poetry and scientific research of the Helmholtz Diabetes Center.

Exploring the parameters of design and AI, the installation incorporates a deep learning algorithm developed by our team. We asked ourselves what if we could train the algorithm to write poetry based on the scientific research papers produced at HDC? What kind of knowledge would that produce? What kind of a perspective shift? Poetry brings order to language, and machine-learning offers an approach without prejudice to explore the fringe thought – is there emotion in scientific research?

We see this work as blurring accepted boundaries between art and science, exploring the shapes of inter-subjectivity, and examining issues of power and authority. Designed to complement Helmholtz Center’s values of honesty, integrity, and ingenuity, the installation reflects notions of investigation, discovery, and innovation at the heart of the highly dynamic research environment: a place for innovation, open to start-up ideas and new enterprises, unprecedented in Europe.Ultimately, the Garden of Forking Paths is a reminder that the evolution of scientific thought is a non-linear, unpredictable and chaotic process that often emerges through the contribution of artists, musicians and philosophers, as well as scientists.