talk neural to me (2016)

Talk neural to me is a one channel video projection. On a big piece of wall a video of a blurred porn movie is projected. It's only vaguely recognisable by the movement of the pink blurred parts. In audio we hear a computer generated descriptive voice translating what the computer 'sees' behind the blurred image.

Talk Neural to me is part of a bigger ensemble of multiple works, exploring the relationship between the viewer, the interface and (online) pornography. An image captioning neural network tries to analyse the moving images of top hit porn movies from Pornhub based on a database of more than 330,000 images (and countless objects within these images).

Using an open-source written code and an open-source database I let the neural network analyze a still from these Pornhub movies every 15 frames or so. These descriptions are later translated into a computer voiceover and put under the actual moving film again. Since the used database has no porn or even nude-related pictures in it, these descriptions are often humorously close to the actual ‘act’ but not ‘smart’ enough to recognize the object. This results in descriptions as; “A woman is brushing her teeth in the bathroom,” whereas the viewer knows that what she is holding is definitely not a toothbrush.

I am very interested in the relation between viewer and object and how the interface influences this relationship. In these works I tried to create a distance from the viewer towards internet pornography, usually seen in a ‘private’ relationship between browser and person. In this work the computer itself is taking the place of the viewer. In this way, I hope to raise multiple questions about our relation towards pornography and technology. As AI is growing and neural networks are used more and more as ‘smart’ objects, the question remains to the human influence on these networks. Clearly, in this case, there is not a ‘pornographic’ database, and still, these databases are only based on ‘human’ descriptions. The humorous result also creates a distance for the viewer to question their own relation to online-pornography and the meaning of these images.