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The Algorithmic Pedestal

Oxford Internet Institute

11 - 17 January 2023

The J/M Gallery are delighted to invite their audience to participate in exciting research via an exhibition titled ‘The Algorithmic Pedestal’, organised by leading academics and artists from Oxford University’s Internet Institute.

The exhibition, organised by Laura Herman and curated by both an AI algorithm and a human curator, Fabienne Hess, will seek to understand how algorithms curate our visual environments. Researchers have invited both Instagram’s algorithm and artist Fabienne Hess to select from the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Open Access collection - resulting in the visual display of images within the J/M Gallery. Locals and visitors are invited to consider the differences between machine curation and human curation in this interactive exhibit, with audience activities evaluating personal reflections to inform the Oxford research programme. Results from audience participation will contribute to further research at Oxford University, seeking to understand the roles algorithms play in visual curation.

Invited Curator and Artist Fabienne Hess has selected images which correspond to her chosen concept: loss. Hess believes that loss is a uniquely and universally human experience, inescapable in human lives. The images selected for the exhibition are part of Hess’s “Dataset of Loss,”, created by Hess over three years. She has spent years physically exploring collections in an embodied fashion, learning about each object’s stories and photographing them during site visits. In this way, Hess’ curation represents both a very human process and very human selection criteria.

The second Curator, Instagram’s Algorithm, decided on a visual layout by uploading images from the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Open Access collection to a completely new Instagram account called @thealgorithmicpedestal. The exhibition seeks to understand what preferences Instagram’s algorithm may have in selecting content. The result will be displayed within the J/M Gallery alongside Hess’ personal selection responding to Loss.

Visitors will be able to witness and evaluate the collections curated by Fabienne Hess and Instagram. What will the differences in machine and human curation show? Can algorithms equally capture a subjective and emotional theme such as Hess’ ‘Loss’? The exhibition is free and runs from 11 - 17 January 2023 at the J/M Gallery, 230 Portobello Road.

Opening Hours:
January 11th: 4:30pm-6pm
January 12th: 10:30am-6pm
January 13th: 10:30am-3pm
January 14th: 10:30am-6pm
January 15th: 10:30am-4:30pm
January 16th: 10:30am-6pm
January 17th: 10:30am-6pm

The project is conducted in collaboration with Dr. Kathryn Eccles, a Senior Research Fellow at the Oxford Internet Institute, and Dr. Caterina Moruzzi, a Research Associate at the University of Konstanz. The project is funded by the Oxford-Minderoo AI Challenge Fund.

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