A project exploring the limits of available data as a means of engaging with critically endangered species. By only using open, publicly available data, representations are generated that reflect upon how little (or much) they are present in our everyday, digital lives.
“Critically Extant” is a project that explores just how little we know about the natural world by testing the limits of the data openly available to us in our digital lives.
To achieve this, AI algorithms were trained on millions of open source images of nature and some ten thousand species. The resulting models were then used to generate visual representations of species that are critically endangered, yet have little or no online presence specially on social media.
The goal of this was to not only trace the edges of our knowledge, but to also explore how we can create feedback loops in the digital that can be positive for the natural world.
The project was inaugurated as an Instagram exhibition, exploring how the pieces can become part of our daily digital intake of content as a means of creating awareness and potentially engagement on behalf of the species shared.
Naturally, as the data available to us represents but a partial fraction of the real number of species currently estimated as known to us, the pieces in this series show animated specimens that bear some, little, or even no resemblance to the species they are meant to depict.
This underlines the difficulties we face in shifting also our digital spaces towards more balanced representation, but it should be grounds for agency too: as we can all create and contribute both physically and digitally and as such can actively work to form new feedback loops that can help bring the critically endangered species into our daily lives in order to get to find ways to care for them?
This project was made as part of the 'Meta AI Artists in Residence' program.
The inaugural exhibition of these works took place here on the Instagram.
We know of some 8.3 million species in the world. The largest openly available dataset represents only some 10.000 species, an eight of fraction of the known. Naturally, with such a “small” number of species, most critically endangered species aren’t present within the data and therefore what they look like is unknown.
The closest we can get is by finding the nearest relation on the phylogenetic tree within those 10.000 species and using that particular species as a starting point for generating.
Yes! Take a look at this reel:
There are many ways of approaching this, big and small!
You can explore the RED LIST and share online (or offline) about the species you find fascinating there.
You can support conservation efforts or volunteer with local initiatives.
Every little bit helps!
Sofia Crespo is an artist working with a huge interest in biology-inspired technologies. One of her main focuses is the way organic life uses artificial mechanisms to simulate itself and evolve, this implying the idea that technologies are a biased product of the organic life that created them and not a completely separated object.
Crespo looks at the similarities between techniques of AI image formation, and the way that humans express themselves creatively and cognitively recognize their world. Her work brings into question the potential of AI in artistic practice and its ability to reshape our understandings of creativity. On the side, she is also hugely concerned with the dynamic change in the role of the artists working with machine learning techniques.
She’s also the co-founder of Entangled Others Studio.
Feileacan McCormick (Technical Production Design)
Stefano Rosso (AI engineer)
Alan Ixba (Technical Assistant)
Alejandro Mune (Music artist)
Devi Parikh (Director FAIR)
Songwei Ge (Research Intern)
Larry Zitnick (Research Scientist)
Sasha Sheng (Software Engineer)
Vedanuj Goswami (Software Engineer)
Xinran Yuan (Curator)
Kristen Leung (Partnerships)
Anna Bruemmer (Communications)
Maggie Azary (Social Media)
Sun Helen Isdahl Kalvenes (Exhibition Designer)
Rafael Flores (Partnerships)
Nick White (Media Partnerships)
2022 Sofia Crespo