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Dentsu Lab creates generative film for Brian Eno's latest album

Dentsu Lab Tokyo are one of the luckiest agencies in the world. They got to create a project for Brian Eno's most recent album, The Ship that explores whether machine intelligence (MI) can acquire the creativity that is innate to human beings. And it's all set to the title track. The project itself is a sort of visual representation of the song, which was created together with Eno. It uses AI to create the music video that attempts to associate past memories with current events.

If like me you haven't had enough coffee this morning, let me try to explain another way: They are scraping data from the internet in the form of historical pictures and matching them with Reuters news feed headlines in an attempt to make a connection between the past and now. Or rather, to see if the artificial intelligence can make a connection and present a specific point of view. When I tried it, I was met initially with a black and white illustration with a Tweet on top of it. Clicking on it, brings the view to Twitter. The hero image as it were keeps changing. So I went from French castle building to the Amazon Echo news story. Interesting juxtaposition with another story about the iPhone 7 which came up next in the queue.

While they are calling the work a film, it is less a film than it is a series of images, with one ever-changing hero image. Watching it for as long as I did, I can't say the AI is doing a better job than we are at understanding the past, let along the present and future. At least not yet. As an art project it's a nice backdrop to the somnolent feeling of the song.

Dentsu developed a bespoke artificial intelligence program to generate the film. The AI employed machine learning techniques as a way of "learning," from the past and associating it with current events.

The experience works only on desktop, not mobile, but that makes sense. Beyond the technology, you really want to experience it on as big a screen as possible. In fact, I really wish this were a proper installation somewhere. Pretty cool either way, though.

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