Memo Akten


Memo Akten (TR/US)

Distributed Consciousness

Technique: custom software using Artificial Intelligence, Deep Learning, Generative Adversarial Networks, Transformers, CLIP, VQGAN, GPT3, 2021

“Distributed Consciousness” is a multi-faceted work that spans themes of biological and artificial intelligence, distributed computation, distributed cognition, cryptography, evolution, phenomenology, ecological awareness, climate change, activism, and cephalopods.

The project began as an NFT collection on the eco-friendly Tezos blockchain. This was a collection of 256 (i.e. 2^8) unique cephalopod-like “Tentacular Critters🐙” created using custom artificial intelligence software (before tools such as Midjourney, Dall-e, StableDiffusion etc. existed).

Cryptographically hidden in each image was a surprise, revealed a month after the images were released: Every one of the 256 images had in fact some text cryptographically encoded in it – a Verse🔷, hidden amongst the pixels, invisible to the human eye, but readable by code. The entire collection of images is in fact a poem, a manifesto. And every Tentacular🐙 image is in fact one verse from the poem, one page from the manifesto. Furthermore, the entire text was also generated with AI. The manifesto is a human-machine co-creation meditation on consciousness, free will, life, death, art, technology, ritual, ecology, economy, and sustainability.The work exists as two NFT collections (Tentacular Critters🐙, and Verses🔷). And has been adapted to a Virtual Reality installation; and numerous immersive, physical, multi-screen video and sound installations with large LED screens, LED ribbons, mirrors, and sound.

Memo Akten is a multi-disciplinary artist, musician, and researcher from Istanbul, Turkey, currently based in Los Angeles. He creates Speculative Simulations and Data Dramatizations investigating the intricacies of human-machine entanglements; perception and states of consciousness; and the tensions between ecology, technology, science and spirituality. For more than a decade his work has been exploring Artificial Intelligence, Big Data and our Collective Consciousness as scraped by the Internet, to reflect on the human condition; drawing connections between intelligence in nature, intelligence in machines, perception, consciousness, neuroscience, fundamental physics, ritual and religion. He received his PhD from Goldsmiths University of London, specializing in creative applications of Artificial Intelligence (Deep Neural Networks) with Meaningful Human Control, and in this field he is considered one of the world’s leading pioneers. He is currently Assistant Professor of Computational Art at University of California San Diego (UCSD).

“Distributed Consciousness” (2021) by Memo Akten. Installation view at ACMI Melbourne, Australia 2023. Photo by Phoebe Powell.