On February 22, the I.A.rt Colloquium brought together more than 300 people to discuss and reflect on the ways in which big data and artificial intelligence can lead to new artistic and creative experiences for public spaces.

Presented by the Quartier des Spectacles Partnership, Illuminart during MONTRÉAL EN LUMIÈRE, the Université du Québec à Montréal and the Montréal joue festival, the I.A.rt Colloquium: artificial intelligence and data serving creative work for public spaces featured talks and project presentations that demonstrated the possibilities and potential for these new technologies. Participants also had the opportunity to try interactive experiences based on big data and artificial intelligence (AI).

“The I.A.rt colloquium shed light on new artistic and technological approaches that the Ville de Montréal will now follow closely, because of their great potential to enrich public space. Our city is already positioning itself as a global hub for artificial intelligence and data science. By learning to use these technologies in creative and positive ways, Montreal will continue to stand out as a leader in both fields. It is also in our community’s DNA to bring together seemingly distant fields, resulting in significant innovations,” said François William Croteau, member of the Ville de Montréal Executive Committee responsible for the smart city, information technology and innovation.

“The I.A.rt colloquium is proof of Montreal’s incredible dynamism in the artificial intelligence field,” said UQAM rector Magda Fusaro. “The role of universities in this burgeoning area is a crucial one, and UQAM is pleased to have been able to lend its researchers’ creativity and expertise to new explorations in art and public space. The discussions during the colloquium gave us a glimpse of promising possibilities for the future, and our university is eager to pursue its work and dialogue with its partners.”

“We are particularly pleased to have brought together so many experts from such a wide range of backgrounds to discuss the creative possibilities for public spaces and the ways in which we use them as programmers, promoters and producers of cultural events, and also as citizens,” said Pierre Fortin, executive director of the Quartier des Spectacles Partnership. “The high quality of the presentations and discussions allowed us to advance our exploration of installations designed using large datasets and AI, and sparked new collaborations for future projects. The formation of the working group is particularly important to us as a way to contribute to collaboration between the industry and artists, while making the audience central to the approach.

In all, there were 20 guest speakers, local and international experts from a wide range of backgrounds – producers, artists, developers, researchers, designers, programmers, creative studio directors, writers, engineers – who gave 11 talks and speeches on four themes: the history of AI and data used creatively; the art of data visualization; collaborative creation: the intersection of art, research and entrepreneurship; and challenges and reflections on creating with AI. The moderator for the day’s activities was Matthieu Dugal, who hosts a show about digital culture, La Sphère, on ICI Radio-Canada Première.

During the event, several displays illustrated the reach of AI in different settings. SpeechViz, a digital art installation presented by Persistance Studios, using the PopcornFX real time visual effects editor, eloquently illustrated the words and ideas discussed during the colloquium. Thanks to by Element AI, attendees were able to see a visual style of their choice applied to a video in real time, as if the AI were seeing the world through the eyes of a street artist. Lastly, Quick Draw and Sketch-RNN, two interfaces by Google, made it possible to explore machine learning and neural networks through photo and drawing recognition.

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