ralf baecker - Mirage


Installation - 2014
Video documentation, 2014

“When one understands the causes, all vanished images can easily be found again in the brain through the impression of the cause. This is the true art of memory” — Cogitationes privatae, Rene Descartes

Mirage is a projection apparatus that makes use of principles from optics and artificial neural network research. Mirage generates a synthesized landscape based on its perception through a fluxgate magnetometer (Förster Sonde). It registers the magnetic field of the earth, which is dependent on the earth’s geodynamo and its interactions with the activity of the sun, and feeds it into an unsupervised learning algorithm for analysis. At the same time the algorithm, which is inspired by the principle of a Helmholz Machine, “dreams” variations of the previously analyzed signal.

These variations are translated into a two-dimensional matrix that physically transforms a thin mirror sheet by 48 muscle wire actors. The surface of the mirror sheet changes analog to the system’s state. A thin laser line is directed on the mirror surface at an acute angle to generate a deep, landscape-like projection on the wall. Through the constantly shifting signals, the projection resembles a subliminal wandering through a landscape.

In 2013 Geoff Hinton, one of the leading researchers in the area of artificial neural networks and deep learning, joined Google to support them on various products that use AI and learning algorithms. He introduced back-propagation algorithms for training multi-layered neural networks. One of his contributions to the field of unsupervised learning algorithms is the so-called “Helmholtz Machine”, a machine that uses the principle of a wake-sleep-algorithm to consolidate its neural network. The algorithm is trained during the wake phase by its sensory input. In the sleep phase, it cuts off its sensory input and feeds the network backward with random patterns. On its input layer (retina) it generates versions of its previously perceived images of the world.

I am speculating that the computers in the enormous Google data centers cut off their perception (search queries, user behavior, speech recognition, image data) once a day and start to “sleep”. What do their “dreams” look like?

Article about Mirage by Mitchell Withelaw (Postmatter)

Mirage - LEAP Berlin, 2014
Mirage - LEAP Berlin, 2014
Mirage - Electronics, 2014
Mirage - LEAP Berlin, 2014
Mirage - Projection, 2014
Mirage - LEAP Berlin, 2014
Mirage - NiTiNol actors, 2014
Mirage - Fluxgate magnetometer, 2014
Mirage - ACT Center Gwanju, 2015
Installation at LEAP Gallery, Berlin 2014
Mirage - Sketch, 2014
Mirage - Screenshot, 2014
Schematic and software screenshot, 2014
aluminium profile, custom electronics, muscle wires, line laser module, flux-gate magnetometer

Produced with support of LEAP Gallery, Berlin


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