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Farzané & Arash: Embedded/Embodied

من به آغاز زمین نزدیکم
نبض گل‌ها را می‌گیرم
آشنا هستم با سرنوشت تر آب ، عادت سبز درخت

I am close to the beginning of the earth.
I feel the pulse of flowers.
I am familiar with the wet destiny of water, the green habit of the tree.

Sohrab Sepehri (1928 - 1980) سهراب سپهری


Farzané    Arash Akbari   

Embedded/Embodied is Farzané & Arash' interactive digital art commission for The Couch in collaboration with Sonic Acts.

view the work here

When we say an AI agent ‘listens’ to its surroundings, what do we mean? How can it ‘know’ a physical space? How does the knowledge it gains through listening differ from the way humans know spaces through sound, and is there a way for us to imagine the AI agent’s experience of that space?

Farzané and Arash have posed these questions in both physical and virtual environments in Embedded/Embodied, an exploration of AI sound recognition, generation and communication co-commissioned with Sonic Acts. It starts with an AI agent (an improviser developed by Farzané) that is taught to listen to and interpret sounds picked up in Zone2Source and Het HEM. Embedded/Embodied takes the concept of acoustemology - investigating sound as a means of obtaining knowledge - as a way to move away from analytical, reductionist, and quantitative methods. Acoustemology is preoccupied with the lived experience of sound: while an AI’s ‘lived experience’ will be totally alien from ours, we can try to observe its ‘experience’ through an acoustemological lens. Or microphone, if you will.

On The Couch, Embedded/Embodied takes the form of a virtual sound walk: an impression of how this AI agent ‘learns’ the Het HEM building over time. The system collects sounds via various types of microphones located in different parts of the environment. The agent takes each stream of sound, selects chunks of the audio, and tries to imitate the wave shape of the signal. The resulting audio is the outcome of these processes, which are then layered, composed, and spatialised in real time by the agent according to the characteristics of the soundscape at that moment.

For this sound walk, recordings were collected in advance from the building and the surroundings of Het HEM utilising shotgun microphones, hydrophones and geophones. These recordings were used to create a virtual space with which the agent interacts. As the viewer, you are invited to explore this process of learning and composition.

You have the ability to explore virtual time and space, immersing yourself in the system’s emergent decisions and aesthetics as it reacts to the local field recordings. You can also compare how the system’s behaviours evolve across different stages of its training process, also known as learning epochs.

Embedded / Embodied is commissioned by Sonic Acts and Het HEM for The Couch. Part of New Perspectives for Action. A project by Re-Imagine Europe, co-funded by the European Union.

Concept, Ideation and Direction: Farzaneh Nouri & Arash Akbari
Sound Design, Sound Programming: Farzaneh Nouri
AR Programming, Interaction Design, Realtime Visuals: Arash Akbari
Hardware Technician: Siavash Jafari
Special Thanks To: Luc Döbereiner for AutoRegNN


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