/ AI and Biotechnology (Part 1)

Daisuke Miyatsu

About the

The present forum is an extension of the exhibition Daisuke Miyatsu: 25 years of video art - A point of transit signals from East and South East Asia, which includes Mr. Miyatsu's insightful online lecture and articles about the interaction between arts and AI in the Anthropocene. The following article is divided into two parts and extracted from his publication The Economics of Contemporary Art 2 – Art Free From Oil, AI, and Virtual Currencies.

Major Impact of Technology Innovation on Commerce and Art

Due to the considerable development of Artificial Intelligence (AI), it is believed that the computer will be able to supersede humans as developers to perform self-improvement as well as ongoing self-upgrades and developments, ultimately achieving singularity in all fields (also referred to as uniqueness or technological singularity.Note 1). Will our future bear resemblance to the world of Doraemon and Noby, a utopia where people and robots coexist in harmony? Or will it be like the dystopia as portrayed in the film Terminator, where the machines eventually dominate the world? Experts everywhere are engaged in heated debates on this issue as we speak.

Although the list of occupations that will disappear in the next decade published several years ago raised the world's attention, as a matter of fact, the AI program Watson developed by IBM Note 2 has already been incorporated into mainstream Japanese enterprises led by Mega Bank (メガバンク) to great effect Note 3. The new wave of innovative technology not only exerts a tremendous impact on a commercial level but also the art industry.

出展:松尾豊著《人工知能は人間を超えるかディープ ラーニングの先にあるもの》,KADOKAWA/中経出版,2015 年,P61

Over the past few years, cutting-edge art and creative groups blending in Japanese philosophy with state-of-the-art technology such as teamLab and Rhizomatiks have attracted the attention of the world. By shattering conventional knowledge and customs of art that believes “So-called art is a creation by individual artists”, while “commercial art (art created for commercial purposes), and fine arts (pure art) are completely different things; the former is considered inferior to the latter.” “Classification is carried out according to entertainment, advertising, design, and art” with independent systems, regulations, and evaluation systems, etc. to create art within the framework of the company’s organizational structure. Note 4

How do the company's creations maintain exceptional quality and always manage to stay ahead of the times? Taking the Japan Pavilion of the Expo Milano 2015 as an example, which was held between May 1 and October 31, 2015, drawing upon the theme of Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life; the expo saw the participation of approximately 140 countries and international organizations from around the globe.

At the Japan Pavilion, besides introducing the distinctive countryside scenery in different seasons and Japanese cuisine – which has been added to the intangible cultural heritage list – the unique Japanese spirit of cherishing food and gratitude including the feeling "grateful for receiving" and "remorseful for wasting". The Japan Pavilion was the most popular of all pavilions at the expo, with visitors waiting as long as 10 hours in the queue. The Japan pavilion generated a visitor number of about 2.28 million (roughly 10% of all expo visitors), earning it the gold prize for best exhibition.

So why is the Japan Pavilion so popular? Certainly, I believe the world-class marketing of Japanese cuisine is one of the key elements. However, if traditional Japanese culinary culture is combined with antiquated exhibits and publicity techniques, the theme will probably not garner such a high level of attention.

The crux lies in the bold "creator appointment" and the "interactive experience involving advanced digital technology". In 2015, teamLab's "Harmony" won the Exhibitor Magazine's Best Presentation Award at Expo Milano 2015; together with Rhizomatiks' Live Performance Theater – Future Restaurant, both exhibits employed exceptional creativity and cutting-edge technology to surprise global visitors with brand new visual and physical experience.

Fuyuki Yamakawa's The Future she saw was our nowadays (2015) exhibited in 'Daisuke Miyatsu: 25 years of video art - A point of transit signals from East and South East Asia' at ALIEN Art Centre © ALIEN Art Centre

In light of this, their "Most Beautiful Japan Pavilion" post on social media has also helped to promote its popularity. In recent years, posting videos and pictures on Instagram has become very popular, and as an emerging media, online word of mouth (also known as reputation) now plays a crucial role in marketing. It is evident that the "exhibit contents and techniques of the Japan pavilion are perfect for such media", which in turn becomes important in facilitating the propagation of information and attracting visitors.

About one year after the expo, when Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe made a surprise appearance at the closing and flag handover ceremony of Rio2016 (Olympic Flag/Paralympic Flag handover ceremony) dressed up as Mario on August 21, 2016, he set the audience alight.

At the award ceremony, singer and composer Ringo Shiina was appointed as the creative director, who composed the music with Yasutaka Nakata. Furthermore, techno-pop band Perfume and heavy metal band Babymetal were invited together with Mikiko, a renowned group choreographer, who oversaw the overall performance and dance program.

In addition, Rhizomatiks' Daito Manabe has applied AR (augmented reality) Note 5 technology using projection mapping to create a symphony of technology, music, and dance for the 33 official Olympic sports, astonishing the world with scintillating lighting and dance performances. Apart from iconic Japanese pop-cultural elements such as gaming and anime, the infusion of state-of-the-art technology to art has achieved an important objective at the award ceremony: shattering the stereotype of traditional Japanese culture and embracing the world with touching sentiments, affinity, and open arms.

Apichatpong Weerasethakul's My mother’s garden (2007) exhibited in 'Daisuke Miyatsu: 25 years of video art - A point of transit signals from East and South East Asia' at ALIEN Art Centre © ALIEN Art Centre

At the London 2012 Olympic Games, 007 escorting Queen Elizabeth II to the opening ceremony, Hey Jude by Paul McCartney, along with other iconic British superstars such as Harry Potter all accentuated the uniqueness of the country and left a memorable impression. I believe that the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games present an opportunity to let global visitors appreciate the unique charisma of Japan through the country's incredible creativity and innovative technology.

Characteristics and problems with media art

Now, the phrase “media art” is widely recognized and used, but its definition remains undetermined and unclear. Although to put it, in a nutshell, the term represents "artwork created using new technology", internationally it is generally referred to as "new media art", hence media art (メディア・アート) is undeniably a Japanese-invented English term.

It encompasses 2 features: "unleashing more expressive possibilities in response to technological developments" and "being used in different media such as games, advertisements, and apps".

The former utilizes technical creations emphasizing interactivity (interaction between the artwork and audience), AR (augmented reality), and VR (virtual reality) as exampleNote 6. The latter uses Kyary Pamyu Pamyu's (Japanese female model and singer) commercial Full Control Tokyo/Real (2013), telecom company Au 4G LTE Note 7, and PlayStation's VR-compatible rhythm game Rez Infinite (2016).

The commercial from Au and Rhizomatiks uploaded a variety of information to the Internet using 4G LTE, the new mobile communication technology at the time. Through Internet communication, NB-IoT has introduced remote access and automatic identification system.

TeamLab Borderless, 人々のための岩に憑依する滝, Exhibition view, MORI Building DIGITAL ART MUSEUM: teamLab Borderless, June 2018- permanent, Tokyo © teamLab

On the other hand, Rez Infinite offers players an immersive gaming experience (the synesthesia effect), allowing us to realize that singularity is not dystopia but rather a significant aspect of future developments.

As such, media art not only applies to artworks in unconventional art galleries and art museums but also media outlets for advertisements and games. Consequently, in terms of performer and television celebrity advertising contracts, quarterly TV commercials (general advertising and mass media contracts usually last 3 months) have disappeared, not to mention creations on the company website.

Led by the British Museum and Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, for ukiyo-e collected by major museums worldwide, performer photos, flyers, or posters, media art is also achieving the same results. Therefore, barring portrait rights issues, if these digital advertisements stored in disks and USB drive cannot be viewed clearly, their remarkable advertising presentation and entertainment qualities will not be preserved for the future generations, thereby leading to a blank era on the history of Japanese art.

Formation and expression of AI (artificial intelligence) – Status quo of the design field

As I mentioned in the beginning, recently, “the singularity=2045 problem” is generating tremendous traction in Japan. For instance, familiar services including Siri and Google Assistant, or NTT Docomo's “my daiz” - AI service that engages in conversations with individual users using the most appropriate dialogues – are gradually overcoming potential socialization and conversation-related problems associated with AI.

Recently, in the field of formation and expression, the Wix.com website has announced a free service, where everyone can utilize the ADI (Artificial Design Intelligence) website to design their webpages using AI service. Additionally, the PageCloud's services allow users to answer various questions to design webpages with high SEO (search engine optimization).

On top of that, through trademark generating services such as Logojoy and Traitor Brands, users may select their preferred style from design templates to create their logo design within a matter of minutes. By the way, Logojoy appears to offer 475 fonts, over 550,000 symbols, and 5,500 preset colors (retaining calibration values), as well as 6 layout templates to satisfy the clients' design needs.

Chiawei Hsu's White Building _ Sva Pu (2016) exhibited in 'Daisuke Miyatsu: 25 years of video art - A point of transit signals from East and South East Asia' at ALIEN Art Centre © ALIEN Art Centre

As mentioned previously, mechanization is prevalent in the field of design and advertising, with many early examples of people being replaced by computers to provide businesses with quick and high-quality services.

So, what is the distinction between human design and AI design? AI applies machine learning to create and generate designs; the so-called machine learning refers to repeated calculations from data using algorithms to ascertain specific patterns hidden within before including the newly derived data to the learning result to predict the best solution (optimal value). In other words, it has evolved from the previous method of manually programmed calculation algorithms to automatic creation from big data.

Although combining affirmative and good-willed, positive elements (motifs) to implement designs is fast and cost-effective, the outcome often only reflects the preferences of the majority of people and clients.

Ultimately, this leads to the emergence of artworks that evoke a sense of déjà vu, thus it can be described as a form of commercial presentation. From the above example, it is evident that most people are capable of accessing content with favorable reviews, but unique and “one of a kind” thinking is what people require to express and design.

In particular, if quantum computers (offering roughly 100 million times the computing power of current computers) become available (unlike traditional computers' binary system of 0s and 1s, quantum computers uses the quantum state of an object to produce what's known as a qubit. These states are the undefined properties of an object before they've been detected, such as the spin of an electron or the polarization of a photon), enormous changes will take place due to big data analysis, including all means of expression such as design. Under such circumstances, only optimal calculation results derived by transcending data analysis will be able to distinguish the differentiation between similar designs.

Based on this, the fundamental meaning of design must undergo immense transformation according to the surrounding environment. I will use speculative design Note 8, something that has emerged rapidly in recent years, as an example. Unlike designs with appeals such as "easy to use", and "aesthetics" in mind, the speculative design adopts a "raising questions" approach involving looking ahead into the future and exploring the different possibilities between the future and present. Instead of focusing on the solution, it has to contemplate the fundamental problem associated with AI – unlearning, as well as the roots of various problems.

Moreover, the era of sales where a product is developed and then sold is in the past, and it is common to find users who are also engaged in manufacturing-related fields. This is especially true in the field of digital fabrication Note 9, where collaborating with AI to collect and analyze the users' feedback as well as the ability to flexibly apply design are becoming increasingly important.

Regardless, AI-driven technological innovation will make the distinction between the roles of people and machines in the field of design presentation and creation more clear-cut. Digital technology industries such as advertising, gaming, and anime are shifting towards receiving orders on their equipment via e-commerce; therefore, originality will unquestionably become paramount.


Note 1: Singularity refers to the point when AI supersedes human intelligence (or if explained in terms of time, the general definition is set in the year 2045). For more information, please refer to the following:Ray Kurzweil, NHK, The Singularity is Near – When Humans Transcend Biology.

Note 2: Watson: A question answering computing and decision support system developed by IBM which was misconceived as AI. However, IBM defined Watson as a “cognitive computing system” supporting people’s decision-making via learning and comprehending natural language.

Note 3: Using SMBC as an example, Yu Hamada, who introduced Watson into SMBC, indicated that "AI is an important partner in expanding the capabilities of employees, so its purpose is not to reduce manpower." ZUU online (November 16, 2017, https://zuuonline.com/archives/181448). Browsed on June 21, 2019.

Note 4: Please refer to my publications to obtain more information pertaining to "cutting-edge technology and art creation companies". Daisuke Miyatsu, The Age of Art x Technology – Revolutionary Changes in a Society Brought About By The Creative Business, Kobunsha

Note 5: AR (Augmented Reality) is displayed through smartphones or the screens of other electronic devices; where the users may interact with the real world through the virtual visual effects.

Note 6: VR (Virtual Reality) refers to a realist virtual world created on the computer providing the users with an immersive experience. They can also experience the 360-degree virtual world by wearing a VR headset.

Note 7: 4G LTE: G is the abbreviation of Generation, as the mobile Internet upgrades from 3G to 4G, the speed is much faster and the contents have also exploded. LTE is short for long term evolution, signifying the transition from 3G to 4G.

Note 8: Please refer to my publications to obtain more information pertaining to "speculative design". Daisuke Miyatsu, The Age of Art x Technology – Revolutionary Changes in a Society Brought About By The Creative Business, Kobunsha, P.101-104

Note 9: Digital Fabrication: A digital technology that involves the use of digital machinery and equipment, where data is entered into the computer (such as a 3D printer) to cut or mold various materials.

TeamLab, HARMONY, Japan Pavilion, Expo Milano 2015 Interactive Digital Installation, 6 min, Sound: Hideaki Takahashi © teamLab