Watching (Blade Runner)

Ben Bogart

Canada
Moving Image Award
"Watching (Blade Runner)" Transmediale Installation in the Marshall McLuhan Salon at the Canadian Embassy in Berlin.

I think of subjectivity and reality as mutually constructive. Cognitive mechanisms impose structure on reality in the form of imaginary categories that inform prediction and recognition. At the same time, the complexity of reality constantly challenges understanding. Cognition determines the most essential and salient properties of reality, but those properties are context dependent. Is the quintessential an objectively observable property of reality or a projection of imagination?

This piece is situated in a larger body of work collectively titled Watching and Dreaming. Initiated in 2014, this series of works are the result of statistically oriented machine learning and computer vision algorithms attempting to understand popular cinematic depictions of Artificial Intelligence by breaking apart and reconstructing them. The machines’ understanding is manifest in their ability to recognize, and eventually predict, the structure of the films they watch. The images produced are the result of both the system’s projection of imaginary structure, and the structure of the films themselves.

What is watching? What are the mechanisms that allow us to recognize patterns and regularity in the noise and complexity of observable reality? How do we integrate the continuous flow of information into a cohesive world-view? These are some of the questions at the centre of this artistic enquiry.

"Watching (Blade Runner)" Transmediale Installation in the Marshall McLuhan Salon at the Canadian Embassy in Berlin.
"Watching (Blade Runner)" (Detail of frame #2779)
"Watching (Blade Runner)" (Detail of frame #95357)
"Watching (Blade Runner)" (Detail of frame #97331)
"Watching (Blade Runner)" (Detail of frame #114388)

The software leading to this work was written in C++ using OpenCV and OpenFrameworks. The work was produced on GNU/Linux using only open-source software except for the accelerated CUDA and OpenGL functions provided by Nvidia.

Watching (Blade Runner) (2016) Excerpt