Revival of Aesthetics – A.I. Driven Immersive Experience
We ought to wrongly categorize carpets as some sort of a decoration for our homes. Meanwhile carpet weaving is a powerful instrument for the Eastern culture to pass on knowledge, archive collective memories and even express love. What seems abstract is in fact not.
Different carpet genres usually share the same ornamental forms. For instance geometrical patterns, floral motifs, and calligraphic shapes; Nothing is accidental in the tradition of carpet weaving – each symbol has a meaning attached to it.
From Ram’s Horn that symbolizes masculinity and heroism to Ewers that stand for purification and pregnancy… Drawing inspiration from the history of carpets, rugs, and kilims, the artist Mammadov not only engages with important cultural artifacts but also questions the borderline between fine art and crafts. What is it that makes multi million dollar abstract paintings more “artistic” than, let’s say, vintage carpets found on a flea market?
In Mammadov’s eyes we are looking at equally important objects that store information and reflect on societies; the line between fine art and crafts blurs when manifested through technology.
Hanging on walls of different homes since time immemorial, hand-woven carpets predate the birth of modern painting as we know it. Today Mammadov reinvents traditional weaving techniques by employing machine learning. For this project the artist’s studio digitalized thouthands of traditional carpets only to let the algorithms finish the job.
With the rise of the digital age, the importance of remembering becomes crucially important. In addition to rescuing this largely underrepresented “tangible” heritage from being locked in museums; Mammadov contributes to the national and regional representation of Azerbaijani cultural history and initiates a dialogue between the crafts and arts, history and technology, imagined and generated.
“Revival of Aesthetics“ creates a new visual language of rugs that didn’t exist so far by combining the data painting technique, pattern, thread, colors and symbols. While honoring the term “pattern” traditionally, Mammadov expands its meaning to computing systems that recognize the regularities in data sets. Formally, data becomes a new thread for a new carpet.
But how exactly do those algorithms work? Well, they learn! A lot like humans do, this approach in the utility computing and generative methods create Artificial Neural Nets – computing systems, developed and constructed on the principles of biological neural systems. Instead of processing some complex step-by-step algorithms, these systems process vast amounts of data with millions of simple operations, optimizing their internal parameters in accordance to those data inputs. Then the Neural Nets find correlations and patterns in the very different types of data. The same method can also generate real visible patterns – from the basic modern geometry to the complex medieval filigree.
The most popular, promising and evolving Deep Learning architecture nowadays is called GAN or Generative-Adversarial Network. It consists of two cross-linked neural networks, one of which tries hard to create fake imagery and another one tries to guess if it’s fake or real. Both networks share their guesses with the opponent, so that both could learn from the process and sooner or later they learn it well.
Mammadov opens up a space for a dialogue between fragile, rapidly vanishing cultural heritage, and the proliferation of digital cultures. The goal here is not only to document the carpets, but to also reproduce and preserve the vast cultural memory of the weaving tradition and store it via a NFT.
“Revival of Aesthetics” approaches digital co-cultures and the entropy of contemporary data with a critical eye in the era of global nomadism: if heritage is a raw data can it be compromised by uneven cultural diffusion, interpretative depletion, and by the use and abuse of history in the rise of ethnic nationalisms? Conversely, Mammadov’s exhibition carefully documents the historical sources of the ornaments, making the artist a researcher and the exhibition – a library of knowledge. The old and the new unite to reinvent each other.
Exhibition Link: https://generativegallery.com/orkhannftdrop/
Curated by Generative Gallery
LocationTheatre of Digital Art Dubai, UAE
May 3, 2022