AI technologies are extremely difficult to conceptualize and apply to both design methods and critical observation. People working in technical fields usually tend to focus on AI technology in and of itself to explain or make it transparent. However, the more subtle, everyday ways in which AI technologies shape human experience (such as in smartphone image improvements) often go unnoticed. In this project, I address this by extrapolating these ‘everyday’ occurrences, creating prototypes that provoke reflections on what AI technologies do and how this shapes our view of the world..
The design of the Entoptic Field Monitor is a process of metaphor-driven Research-through-Design. Grounded in the material analogy of entoptic phenomena, we developed a prototype which takes incoming video images and renders synthetic outputs using a Generative Adversarial Network. The prototype is a low latency camera application that monitors a space and renders AI-based approximations of the camera feed. The application runs on a tablet that faces into the space, and can be mounted on any suitable surface. By neither storing nor displaying any of the incoming data (i.e., the front-facing tablet camera), the Entoptic Field Monitor raises questions around privacy, representation and acceptability.
The Entoptic Field Monitor prototype is part of a series based on a design metaphor: entoptic phenomena. These refer to perceptions that stem from the interplay of eye and brain such as floaters or bright purple dots; things that do not correspond to anything in material reality. With ‘entoptic media,’ I aim to develop a design approach that sees AI technologies through this lens: as an interplay of data and algorithms, giving rise to particular cultural phenomena. Accordingly, the Entoptic Field Monitor is one in a line of designerly engagement with a new space of design affordances shaped by emerging technologies.