Artificial Answers

Short animation film | HD, 6:00 min | 2020

An animated speculation on whether and how artificial intelligence could answer existential questions of humanity.

The short film stages a search engine environment and the AI questioned in the plot gives its answers in the form of collages from documents, images, sounds and quotations from well-known philosophers and historical intellectuals. The real question remains whether machine learning can succeed in linking these many coherent and conflicting fragments on the meta-level into a new guiding principle that is able to answer the agonizing questions of our time.

The artists used AI-based technology as an animation technique to breathe new life into photos and images of well-known personalities and also themselves. On the narrative level, the film is also a dialogue of the social and cultural backgrounds of its three creators from UK, India and Germany.

This digital work was created in collaboration of Cat Scott (UK), Smruthi Gargi Eswar (IN) & Jens Isensee (GER) during the CoLab TechArt Fellowship 2020 with Jaaga, British Council India, Goethe Insitute Bangalore and was supported by Islington Mill.

The film was shown at the BeFantastic Triennial, Online Exhibition


The Idea

The idea for this film was generated from the conversations of three artists from different parts of the world, connected through computer screens. A collaborative relationship resting heavily on today’s technology. Our opinions were born of the questions we had as a group. Questions about life, the universe – everything. Hence our group name – Collective 42. A name inspired from the all-knowing computer from the novel, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Our question was – will artificial intelligence be the answer? We decided to address the future by exploring voices of the past. We used a search engine as a framework to ask big questions about our existence. Talking heads of thinkers, innovators and change-makers through time come to life, enabling them to have important conversations with us, in the present day. Diversity, equality and individuality were important themes to us, to create a world perspective of the universe. We asked ourselves – which voices do we want to present? We used this to inform which people we wanted to platform, to create a meaningful dialogue between us, the thinkers of the past and the audience of today and to question – where does AI sit in these conversations? We have provided a space for audiences to think about these deep, philosophical questions and to invite them to explore their own voices, in this universal dialogue between nature, humans and AI.


German Version

Eine animierte Spekulation, ob und wie künstliche Intelligenz existenziellen Menschheitsfragen in der heutigen Zeit beantworten könnte.

Der Kurzfilm inszeniert eine Suchmaschinenumgebung und die in der Handlung befragte KI gibt ihre Antworten in Form von Kollagen aus Dokumenten, Bildern, Tönen und Zitaten bekannter Philosophen und historischer Intellektueller. Die eigentliche Fragestellung lautet jedoch, ob es dank Machine Learning gelingen kann, diese viel stimmigen und widerstreitenden Fragmente auf der Metaebene zu einem neuen Leitbild zu verknüpfen, dass die quälenden Fragen unserer Zeit beantworten kann.

Als Animationstechnik verwendeten die Künstler AI basierte Technologie um Fotos und Bildern von bekannten Persönlichkeiten und auch sich selbst neues Leben einhaucht. Auf narrativer Ebene ist der Film aber auch ein Dialog der sozialen und kulturellen Hintergründe seiner drei Macher aus UK, Indien und Deutschland.

Diese digitale Filmarbeit entstand in Zusammenarbeit von Cat Scott (UK), Smruthi Gargi Eswar (IN) & Jens Isensee (GER) während des CoLab TechArt Fellowship 2020 mit Jaaga, British Council India, Goethe Insitute Bangalore und wurde von Islington Mill unterstützt.