Turbulence Spotlight: "Thinking Machine 4" by Martin Wattenberg (with Marek Walczak)
"Thinking Machine 4" explores the invisible, elusive nature of thought. Play chess against a transparent intelligence, its evolving thought process visible on the board before you. The work consists of an artificial intelligence program-ready to play chess with the viewer. If
the viewer takes up the challenge, the computer’s thought process is sketched on screen as it plays. A map is created from the traces of literally thousands of possible futures as the program tries to decide its best move. Those traces become a key to the invisible lines of force in the game as well as a window into the spirit of a thinking machine.
The pace of interaction is deliberative, unlike the rushed tempo of popular video games. Indeed the true subject of the piece is not games or chess, but contemplation and introspection.
MARTIN WATTENBERG’S work centers on the theme of making the invisible visible. Past projects include "The Shape of Song" and "Apartment" (both Turbulence commissions), "Third Person," and the Whitney Artport’s "Idea Line." Wattenberg is a researcher at IBM, where he creates new forms of data visualization. He is also known for the SmartMoney.com "Map of the Market." He holds a Ph.D. in mathematics from U.C. Berkeley.
MAREK WALCZAK is an artist and architect who is interested in how people participate in physical and virtual spaces. This has led to projects such as "Apartment" (a Turbulence commission), shown at the Whitney Museum and many venues worldwide, and "Dialog Table," a commission of the Walker Art Center that replaces a keyboard and mouse with a shared interface based on gesture recognition technology. Current projects include a one block long faÃ§ade at 7 World Trade Center that reacts to pedestrians walking beneath it (for James Carpenter Design) and interactive video installations such as "Third Person," recently shown at the ICA, London. Marek trained as an architect at the Architectural Assoc. in London and Cooper Union in New York.
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