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Arts@ITRI: When Technology Meets Art

Arts@ITRI showcased its results in an exhibition in late 2019, with attending guests including Deputy Minister of Culture Tsung-Huang Hsiao (third right in front row) and ITRI’s General Director of Service Systems Technology Center Roger Cheng (third left in front row).

Arts@ITRI showcased its results in an exhibition in late 2019, with attending guests including Deputy Minister of Culture Tsung-Huang Hsiao (third right in front row) and ITRI’s General Director of Service Systems Technology Center Roger Cheng (third left in front row).

Arts@ITRI, the first-ever residency program launched by the Ministry of Culture and ITRI, unveiled its results in art-technology collaboration in a joint exhibition. This 8-month program selected three groups of artists: Wen-Cheng Lee, Yu-Shen Li and Yi-Ching Liao of Piànn-Tiûnn art group, Chieh-Sen Chiu & Margot Guillemot (C&G Art Group) and Huang Yi (Huang Yi Studio+) to work side by side with ITRI researchers, allowing them to gain access to the world-class R&D institute for creating their artwork.

Deputy Minister of Culture Tsung-Huang Hsiao commented that he looks forward to seeing more artists collaborate with ITRI for cultural enrichment. ITRI’s General Director of Service Systems Technology Center Roger Cheng also responded that this residency program is a win-win solution for technology and art to fully engage with each other as artists and researchers can find new inspirations during the process of exploring what technology can do for art. He indicated that applying innovative technology in art will not only show impressive originality and global impact but also drive the development of the cultural technology industry.

The works from these art groups range from dance performance to cultural landscape artwork and stage management, interacting with ITRI’s diverse R&D capabilities in 3D scanning/printing, facial recognition and 3D modeling, and artificial intelligence (AI). Project leader Hsiang-Lan Shih, Deputy Manager of ITRI’s Service Systems Technology Center, commented that through this project, team players were able to co-work by sharing their creativity and technological competence and integrating the rational and emotional parts of their brains.

For artist Wen-Cheng Lee of Piànn-Tiûnn, his presentation is known as “Strengthen Tendons and Bones of Deities” project. This artwork features a deity dance performance. “We’d like to present the character of deities in Taiwan’s folk religion in a bold way by using a female dance performer,” Lee stated. He indicated that the difficulty of this project lies in the weight of the dance costume, which is a huge burden for their female performer, Yi-Ching Liao, to execute dance moves. “ITRI researchers were able to solve this problem by using their medical-grade 3D printing technology to produce a lighter apparel design with excellent flexibility for our performance,” said Lee. ITRI engineer Wei Li considered this task an interesting challenge to resolve. “Their requirement for altering the gadget stiffness is different from the demand for designing assistive devices for medical uses, not what we are used to,” he said.

Artist Wen-Cheng Lee’s team collaborated with ITRI on the deities’ costume (left image) by designing a new gadget (right top image) that is light and flexible for dance movement.

Artist Wen-Cheng Lee’s team collaborated with ITRI on the deities’ costume (left image) by designing a new gadget (right top image) that is light and flexible for dance movement.

The second art group, Chieh-Sen Chiu & Margot Guillemot (C&G Art Group) created a work called “Borderlands”, where they chose Beitou Heart Village as an example to explore the rupture zone between modern people, the environment and life-virtual world through digital technology. C&G Art Group explained that this presentation adopted ITRI’s facial recognition technology to digitize all the viewers in front of the camera and convert these data into a constantly flowing image. It is through the collaboration from both sides that this work can present the desert world and interaction with viewers. Additionally, the black and white image of landscape displayed on screen will evolve into color images as the number of viewers increases. ITRI researcher Chun-Ting Lee noted that this work prompted them to be more aware of our social landscape and embrace a novel approach that connects rigid data from sensor technology with landscape images.

In the C&G Art Group work “Borderlands”, the black-and-white image depicting the landscape will gradually shift its colors with the growing number of viewers in front of the camera.

In the C&G Art Group work “Borderlands”, the black-and-white image depicting the landscape will gradually shift its colors with the growing number of viewers in front of the camera.

As for Huang Yi, his projects include “Specimen of the Soul” and “AI Stage Manager”, which incorporate ITRI’s expertise in 3D printing and AI. “I want to keep the memory of those close to us by preserving their appearance,” stated Huang Yi. “For Specimen of the Soul, ITRI’s industrial technology with high precision and resolution holds the key to this creation.” He further explained that ITRI’s 3D-printed face portrait of his partner dancer and Huang Yi Studio+ co-founder Hu Chien is so refined that even the facial pores can be seen.

The other project “AI Stage Manager” focuses on teaching AI to recognize dance moves and predict the timing of movement through deep learning. “AI Stage Manager is not created to replace humans, but rather to work with us and do something we are not able to do,” expressed Huang. In the collaboration with ITRI, he was thrilled to see that AI finally can recognize body movement like touch or disengagement. He believes that an AI stage manager will soon be able to monitor the entire stage, helping a human stage manager to call and execute every cue with correct timing during a show. Jerry Wang, Industrialization Deputy Division Director of ITRI’s Electronic and Optoelectronic System Research Laboratories, remarked that this project also inspired his team to apply a similar technology to Metro’s track inspection.

Huang Yi Studio+ and ITRI worked together on the projects “Specimen of the Soul” (top image) and “AI Stage Manager” (bottom image).

Huang Yi Studio+ and ITRI worked together on the projects “Specimen of the Soul” (top image) and “AI Stage Manager” (bottom image).

To conclude, Arts@ITRI exemplifies successful interdisciplinary collaboration between art and technology. As project participant and Division Director of ITRI’s Service Systems Technology Center Dr. Hong-Dun Lin suggested, this project initiates a remarkable process of cross-sector communication between qualitative and quantitative approaches, between abstract and concrete thinking. “The purpose is not to turn art into technology, but add value to art through technology,” he stressed.

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