1 & N Chairs, 2017
Wooden chair, monitors, camera, cognitive computation engine, custom software
Courtesy of the artist
Fito Segrera’s work 1 & N Chairs consists of four elements: a wooden chair, two monitors, and a camera. The camera records the chair, zooming into certain areas and photographing a small fragment of the image. The image is transferred via Internet to Microsoft’s image recognition service and translated into a verbal description using algorithms. This is then shown on the right screen. At the same time, the description of the image also serves as search term for an online image search. The image found via this search is shown on the left screen. The process is continuously repeated with a new image fragment and textual description each time.
Segrera’s system conducts a kind of image interpretation and abstraction that one could describe as artificial imagination. The system usually recognises the object – a chair – but often interprets non-existent objects into the image. Segrera’s work is based on a programmed algorithm that uses a random generator to continuously create new combinations and options, offering several possible interpretations of the same object.
1 & N Chairs references the work One and Three Chairs by conceptual artist Joseph Kosuth from 1965. In this work, Kosuth exhibited a handmade wooden chair together with a photograph of it and a dictionary entry. Segrera’s title is almost identical to Kosuth’s, except the natural number three has been replaced by the mathematical symbol N, which stands for any number in the set of natural numbers. N stands for the programmed system’s endless search for new image-word pairings. Both Kosuth’s historical work as well as Segrera’s make reference to Plato’s conception of the Idea of an object and thus raise questions about the relationship between representation, concept, and material referent. Kosuth attributed this logical ability to human thought. Segrera, by contrast, replaces this process with mathematical calculations. While Kosuth’s work takes a static definition of an object in language and image as its starting point, Segrera’s automated system is in process of constant investigation that produces a flow of perpetually new images and words from the Internet.
Fito Segrera (b.1983) is a Colombian artist, technologist and the head of the department Research and Creation at Chronus Art Center, Shanghai. He studied fine arts and audiovisual Multimedia production at Jorge Tadeo Lozano University of Bogotá (CO), as well as Design and Technology The New School, New York (US).