Nov 21, 2020 – April 14, 2021

The Swamp Intelligence (2018-20) by Nomeda & Gediminas Urbonas with Jonas Kubilius at the Taipei Biennale, Taipei Fine Arts Museum, Taiwan

Gediminas Urbonas, Associate Professor, MIT Program in Art, Culture and Technology
Nomeda Urbonas, Research Affiliate, MIT Program in Art, Culture and Technology

The Swamp Intelligence installation is on view at the You and I don’t Live on the Same Planet exhibition curated by Bruno Latour and Martin Guinard for the Taipei Biennale 2020 at the Taipei Fine Arts Museum in Taiwan. Conceived by Nomeda & Gediminas Urbonas in collaboration with Jonas Kubilius (BS’08) the installation probes alternative visioning for the new climatic regime by merging artistic and scientific investigations in an emergent forms of intelligence. Nested inside of the museum wall the hybrid ecosystem probes the interdependencies of the swamp and the machine learning and renders a thought forms on the architecture that emerges from the sympoietic dreams and modernist nightmares about the swamp.

Swamp-Intelligence_elephant_lighthouse from Zooetics on Vimeo.

The Swamp Intelligence is based on an AI algorithm that uses white noise to generate hybrids of natural, architectural and technological imagery, uncanny to human perception. The project engages a metabolism of the ecosystem where muddy and machinic organically merge with digital life forms.

The system based on a NoPlace Neural Network (NNN), a variant of a conditional AI (artificial intelligence), is used to unveil neural network abilities to generate visual imagery that engages more-than-human worlds. The NNN has two components that work in opposition: a generator that is learning how to generate an image from a noise pattern and a discriminator that tries to guess which image is real and which is generated. In its constant balance between the real and the imagined, NNN mimics the dampening counterforce effect of a biological swamp.

Swamp-Intelligence_mosque_tarantula from Zooetics on Vimeo.

Unlike earlier architectural statements — such as Superstudio’s Continuous Monument, which conceived architecture to be autopoietic and independent of its environment — the NNN works to find ways to engage system’s metabolism and combine its architectural proposals into the milieu that it belongs to. Being based on completely different foundations, subject to strict logic, and lacking context, the machine quite paradoxically becomes less restricted to imagine than the artist or scientist who sets it up, producing rather unsettling and yet interdependent imagery for an observer to interpret.

The Swamp Intelligence was launched at the Swamp School – the Venice Architecture Biennale 2018, as a contribution to an open-ended and ever-changing infrastructure that supports experiments in design, pedagogy, and artistic intelligence for learning and adapting to imminent unknowns.

Swamp-Intelligence_bear_shed from Zooetics on Vimeo.

“You and I don’t live on the same planet”
— New Diplomatic Encounters 我跟你住在不同的星球:新外交

Entitled You and I Don’t Live on the Same Planet, the Taipei Biennial 2020 aims to question our current ongoing geopolitical tensions and worsening ecological crisis by examining our differences and influences on a planetary perspective. Showcasing a strong line up of works by 57 participants/groups from 27 countries and territories worldwide, the biennial is co-curated by French philosopher Bruno Latour and French independent curator Martin Guinard, together with Taiwanese independent curator Eva Lin specially for the public programs. As Latour and Guinard commented: “There is increasing disagreement on how to keep the world inhabitable, not only because political opinions diverge, but more crucially because we don’t seem to agree on what the earth is made of. Some today may even think the world is flat! It is as if there were several versions of Earth, with properties and capacities that are so different that they are like distinctive planets, which results in deviation in the way one feels, behaves, and predicts their future.”

Swamp-Intelligence_frog_church from Zooetics on Vimeo.

Related Links:
Taipei Biennial 2020: Exhibition Overview. video 08:30 min

Taipei Biennial 2020 : You and I don’t Live on the Same Planet. Part I video 13:35 min

Taipei Biennial 2020 : You and I don’t Live on the Same Planet. Part II video 9:57 min

Taipei Biennial 2020 : You and I don’t Live on the Same Planet. Part III video 7:57 min

Taipei Biennial 2020 : You and I don’t Live on the Same Planet. A special issue of E-flux journal

Nomeda & Gediminas Urbonas with Jonas Kubilius ( The Swamp Intelligence (2018-20). Mixed media installation: sngan_projection, Raspberry Pi, DLP pico projector (TI), swamp environment model. Courtesy of the artists. Photo: Taipei Fine Arts Museum.