Hybrid Art

Anerkennung - Honorary Mentions


Ralf Baecker (DE)


When one understands the causes, all vanished images can easily be found again in the brain through the impression of the cause. This is the true art of memory.” [1]

Mirage is a projection apparatus that makes uses of principles from optics and artificial neural network research. Mirage generates a synthesized landscape based on its perception through a fluxgate magnetometer (Förster Sonde). It registers the magnetic field of the earth, which is dependent on the earth’s geodynamo and its interactions with the activity of the sun, and feeds it into a unsupervised learning algorithm for analysis. At the same time the algorithm, is inspired by the principle of a Helmholz Machine, “dreams” variations of the previously analyzed signal. These variations are translated into a two-dimensional matrix that physically transforms a thin mirror sheet by 48 muscle wires. The surface of the mirror sheet changes in analogy to the system’s state. A thin laser line is directed at the mirror surface at a acute angle to generate a landscape depth like projection on the wall. Through the constantly shifting signals the projection resembles a subliminal wandering through a landscape.

In 2013 Geoff Hinton, one of the leading researchers in the area of artificial neural networks and deep learning, joined Google to support them on various products that use AI and learning algorithms. He introduced back-propagation algorithms for training multi-layered neural networks. One of his contributions to the field of unsupervised learning algorithms is the Helmholtz Machine, a machine that uses the principle of a wake-sleep algorithm to consolidate its neural network. The algorithm is trained during the wake phase by its sensory input. In the sleep phase it cuts off its sensory input and feeds the network backwards with random patterns. On its input layer (retina) it generates versions of its previously perceived images of the world.

I am speculating that the computers in the enormous Google data centers cut off their perception (search queries, user behavior, speech recognition, image data) once a day and go to “sleep.” What do their “dreams” look like?

[1] René Descartes, Cogitationes privatae. in Frances Yates, The Art of Memory (1966), p. 373


Ralf Baecker

Ralf Baecker (DE), born in 1977 in Düsseldorf, is an artist with a background in computer science. Baecker builds systems and machines which explore the poetic potential of technology. His work focuses on the material scope of technology and its cultural construction. His projects have been exhibited internationally and were awarded an Honorary Mention at the Prix Ars Electronica (2012), and the second prize of the VIDA 14.0 Art & Artificial Life Award. In 2007, Baecker received a diploma from the Academy of Media Arts in Cologne, where he studied audiovisual media at the Media Art Department. He has worked as an artistic associate at the Media Department of the Bauhaus University in Weimar and since 2007 he has been working as an independent artist. Baecker teaches at the University of the Arts, Bremen, the College of fine Art, Kassel and ArzEZ in Arnhem. At present he is a fellow of the Graduate School of the University of the Arts in Berlin.

Supported by: LEAP Gallery, Berlin