Machine, Myself & I

A workshop bringing artists, scientists, and technologists together to explore the impact of machine learning and AI on our visual culture.

Image by Dr. Pinar Yoldas

Event Details


swissnex San Francisco
Pier 17, Suite 800, San Francisco, California 94111 United States


July 12, 2019 from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm America/Los Angeles (UTC-08:00)


Invitation only — apply to attend.

We are continuously adapting to technology as technology is adapting to us. Neural networks, apps, VR devices, and social media are transforming how we experience ourselves today — and how we are seen through the digital lens. The rise of artificial intelligence changes our visual culture, humans turn into networked subjects, virtual avatars become social media influencers.

The “Machine, Myself and I” workshop will unpack the ways in which technology is enhancing, reinventing, and changing virtual representations of human life. How can we understand images that arrive from non-human intelligence? Is a photograph something else when it is made of data beyond points of light and color? As we feed our human agency into the human-machine feedback loop, what can these machines reveal about unconscious worlds, latent desires, and subliminal perceptions — those within ourselves, but also the machines?

This event is part of the exhibition ‘An Eye Unruled’ – organized by swissnex San Francisco and Fotomuseum Winterthur. The workshop is for creatives, scientists, and technologists to explore our visual culture and emergent futures.

Places are limited. If you would like to take part, please apply by July 10.


10:00am introduction An overview of the day.
10:15am tutorial Presentations from artists collaborating with machines.
12:00pm lunch Lunch will be provided.
1:00pm analysis  Examine emerging possibilities in the fields of AI, machine learning, neural networks and visual culture.
2:00pm decryption Examining science fiction to decrypt the society in which we live. 
3:30pm machinafesto A collaborative manifesto, connecting two perspectives on the phenomenon: both human and machine.
4:00pm reception The reception provides drinks to reflect on the day together.

Program in Detail

10:00am — Introduction & Tutorial: An Eye Unruled.

Presentations of artists’ work with machines, from An Eye Unruled exhibitors Gene Kogan, Pinar Yoldas, Maria Guta, and Simone Niquille. The tutorial is concluded by a presentation of the viral site ‘ThisPersonDoesNotExist’ by its creator, software engineer Phil Wang.


Lunch will be provided: choose a “question table,” and enjoy a conversation with others interested in the topic.

1:00 pm — Analysis:

A look at the broader social trends emerging in the fields of AI, machine learning, and neural networks, with Barry Threw, JD Beltran, and Marco De Mutiis.


Le Collaboratoire, the Lausanne University research-action unit, and La Maison d’Ailleurs, a Switzerland-based museum dedicated to science fiction, will guide us through examples of AI and other popular hallmarks of science fiction in order to decrypt the society in which we live. A workshop designed by Mercedes Gulin Koch will be presented by Marc Atallah (remote) and Francesca Bosisio (on site).

A draft manifesto for AI art, connecting different perspectives on the phenomenon: with text created in collaboration between humans in the room and a publicly accessible edition of OpenAI’s GPT2 Natural Language Processor. A collaborative workshop facilitated by Eryk Salvaggio.

4:00pm Reception

The reception provides drinks to reflect on the day together.


Marc Atallah (remote) is the Director of Maison d’Ailleurs (Museum of Science Fiction, Utopia and Extraordinary Journeys), Director of Numerik Games Festival and Professor at the French Department of Lausanne University. His researches focus mainly on what we call “Hypothesis Literatures” (utopia, dystopia, imaginary journeys, science fiction) and on literary theories (theories of genres, theories of fiction). He published many papers and has co-edited several books: L’Homme-machine et ses avatars (2011), Souvenirs du Futur. Les miroirs de la Maison d’Ailleurs (2013), Pouvoirs des jeux vidéo (2015), Portrait-Robot ou Les multiples visages de l’humanité (2015), L’Art de la science-fiction (2016), Pop Art, mon Amour. L’art de Tadanori Yokoo et du manga (2016), Je suis ton père ! Origines et héritages d’une saga intergalactique (2017) and Le Jeu (2018).

JD Beltran has over a decade of experience as an internationally recognized artist, filmmaker, designer, writer, and arts administrator. For eight years, until January 2019, Beltran served as President of the San Francisco Arts Commission, a commission that oversees $20M of public funding for public art, grants, arts programming, and support for San Francisco artists, arts non-profits, and community organizations. She also served as the agency’s Executive Director in 2011. Beltran is Associate Faculty at California College of the Arts, where she has taught in both the MFA Design and Interaction Design Programs for the past six years. While at CCA, she collaborated with former Dean of Design (and now MFA Writing Program Chair) Leslie Roberts and the California Academy of Sciences in initiating and producing CCA’s successful, now annual “Nightlife” exhibition, as well as in overseeing multiple CCA design sprints pairing CCA students with various technology partners.

Francesca Bosisio holds a PhD in health psychology and was trained in Science and Technology Studies at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. She is currently Head of research at the Collaboratoire, the research-action unit of Lausanne University, Lecturer at the Chair of geriatric palliative care of the Lausanne University Hospital, and Senior advisor to the Canton Vaud Medical Officer. Her activities include promoting citizen science and scientific mediation in the field of genomic medicine, personalized health, human enhancement, aging, and dying.

Marco De Mutiis works as Digital Curator at Fotomuseum Winterthur, where he leads and co-curates the SITUATIONS program and also deals with issues related to digital infrastructures, online museums, and photography in its networked and algorithmic forms. He is currently also part of a SNF-funded research project titled “Post-Photography” with the Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts, researching on computer games and photography, looking at simulations of photography, photorealism in games, photo modes, photographic playbour and screenshotting practices. He is also a co-initiator, core member and networked mastermind of the rogue collective behind You Must Not Call It Photography If This Expression Hurts You.

Maria Guta was born in Bucharest, Romania, where she studied graphic design and made her practice in fields as visual communication, art direction and fine arts. She moved to Switzerland in 2010 and in 2015 she has completed a Master’s degree in Art Direction and Photography at ECAL (Lausanne). Very soon after the graduation she discovered VR as a new and intriguing medium to explore and worked as the curator of a major VR event in Switzerland. She is currently an independent artist interested in photography, immersive media and new technologies, while always looking for new challenges (like performing, shapeshifting, or creating costumes for theatre). Her work was exhibited in Tokyo, Berlin, Milan, Paris, Zürich, Bucharest, and her latest project premiered this year in New Frontier at the Sundance Film Festival.

Gene Kogan is an US-artist and a programmer who is interested in generative systems, computer science, and software for creativity and self-expression. He is a collaborator within numerous open-source software projects, and gives workshops and lectures on topics at the intersection of code and art. Gene initiated ml4a, a free book about machine learning for artists, activists, and citizen scientists, and regularly publishes video lectures, writings, and tutorials to facilitate a greater public understanding of the subject.

Simone C Niquille is a Swiss designer and researcher based in Amsterdam. Her practice Technoflesh investigates the representation of identity and the digitization of biomass in the networked space of appearance. She holds a BFA in Graphic Design from Rhode Island School of Design and a MA in Visual Strategies from the Sandberg Instituut Amsterdam. She is a 2016 Fellow of Het Nieuwe Instituut Rotterdam and currently holds the position of Chief Information/Identity Officer at the Design Academy Eindhoven. Simone C Niquille is commissioned contributor to the Dutch Pavilion at the 2018 Venice Architecture Biennale and recipient of the Housing the Human Grant 2018/19.

Nicola Ruffo works as Head of Public Programs at swissnex San Francisco, connecting the digital arts and science of Switzerland and the US West Coast. He studied international relations and film at the University of Zurich and Berlin. His work focuses on digital and urban culture. He has realized several exhibitions and film programs for galleries, foundations such as the LUMA Foundation, and institutions such as the Swiss Architecture Museum. 

Eryk Salvaggio is an artist, writer, and researcher at swissnex San Francisco, where he explores the consequences of emergent technologies. Once dubbed “the Harry Potter of the digital vanguard,” Salvaggio was an early pioneer of the movement, exhibiting internationally with his work covered in The New York Times and NBC News. His project, Fluxus Ex Machina, used the GPT2 language model to produce 100 performance art pieces. He holds an MSc. in Global Media and Communication from the London School of Economics.

Barry Threw is a technologist, designer, strategist, and producer with over 15 years of experience building innovative, influential products, experiences, teams, and businesses ranging across art, built environment, and creative technologies. He currently CEO of Fabricatorz, a global art technology and design studio, Director of #NEWPALMYRA, and on the Board of Gray Area, where he has curated the Gray Area Festival since 2015. He is the former Director of Software at Obscura Digital, and is based in San Francisco, CA and St. Louis, MO.

Phil Wang is a silicon valley software engineer who is recently entranced by deep learning who is the creator of the viral site, ThisPersonDoesNotExist, which features the latest state of the art generative adversarial network created by researchers at Nvidia.

Dr. Pinar Yoldas is an infradisciplinary architect/artist/researcher currently based in San Diego, California. Her work develops within biological sciences and digital technologies through architectural installations, kinetic sculpture, sound, video and drawing with a focus on post-humanism, eco-nihilism, anthropocene and feminist technoscience. Dr. Yoldas is a Guggenheim fellow and an EU Future Emerging Arts recipient. ​


This program is presented in partnership with the #SwissTouch Campaign of Presence Switzerland, the Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia, Fotomuseum Winterthur, Création Baumann, the Canton de Vaud (DGES), the University of Lausanne, and Maison d’Ailleurs. The entire program was developed in collaboration with the Fotomuseum Winterthur, a leading Swiss institution for the presentation and discussion of photography and visual culture. The partner for bench coverings and curtains is Création Baumann, with its internationally renowned Swiss textile label.

Header image: From The Kitty AI: Artificial Intelligence for Governance by Dr. Pinar Yoldas. 

Event Photos