Intelligent Selections | 2018

Museum-based Public Facing Installation Exploring Digital Collections by Leveraging Machine Learning

Intelligent Selections | 2018 - Description

Pete Haughie & Dominic Smith

Intelligent Selections was a joint project between artist Dominic Smith and me for the Tyne and Wear Archives and Museums Great North Museum: Hancock. It was to run from June to September 2018 as a part of the Great Exhibition of the North — a celebration of the heritage and history of arts, culture, and design in the North organised by TWAM and the National Lottery Fund.

Our brief was to create something that would engage the public consciousness for the duration of the Great Exhibition of the North festival which celebrated arts, culture, and design in the North of England.

We were given unprecedented access to a database containing descriptions of every individual item across the TWAM network and over a period of several weeks gradually trained a Machine Learning algorithm. This algorithm ran constantly in the background for the duration of its installation, eventually creating something in the region of thirty four million new records based on the original source materiél — the longer the installation was in sitú the larger and more varied the output could become. From this pool of possibilities the public could choose one to view via a tablet touchscreen interface where a random selection of nouns — also chosen from the TWAM data — was displayed. When the nouns were matched as closely as possible with textual data from the generated entries the result was displayed on a large back projected screen. These results were also sent to an accompianing website in realtime for later retrieval by the viewer. The piece would eventually be interacted with over thirteen thousand times.

Picture by Dominic Smith

Here I am inspecting the output on the back projection screen

In Memory of Those Yet to Come | 2018

A Museological Machine Learning installation for suggesting new names for the animals yet to become extinct or the creatures that may follow after we have gone

In Memory of Those Yet to Come | 2018 - Description

Using data from the IUCN Redlist containing all the taxonomic information of all known extinct creatures I extracted the English common names and combined it with the highest ranked results from the three most common Amazon product searches — drones, disposable plastic, and plastic toys.