Perth-based artist Kynan Tan explores twenty-first century anxieties regarding surveillance, exploitation of personal data and the rise of AI through simulations, audio-visual installations and gamification.

Computer Learns Automation (Ride Share, Drone Strike and Robot Arm), 2020, exorcises the spectres of computational technology. Three artificial intelligence agents learn to accomplish tasks in real time throughout the duration of the exhibition: a car learns to navigate pick-up and drop-off zones, a drone observes and fires at targets from above, and a robot arm learns to move boxes in a factory.

The soundtrack also exhibits artificial intelligence, as another AI program again is trained to learn and compose video game music. The automation of these tasks is increasingly commonplace, from the movement and distribution of goods and people to the generation of entertainment and mediation of warfare. Computer Learns Automation thus raises questions concerning human creativity, the fate of labour and distribution of power in the twenty-first century. In visualising the frequently invisible and abstract movements of data, networks and processes of machine learning, Tan exhumes the menace that lives among us: ‘the movement of data is monstrous – an enormous, unseen spectre, dark and ominous’.

installation view: 2020 Adelaide Biennial of Australian Art: Monster Theatres featuring Computer Learns Automation (Ride Share, Drone Strike and Robot Arm) by Kynan Tan, Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide;; photo: Saul Steed.