Isea 2022 - Possibles



June 10

Performance / Anatomies of Intelligence

Authors: Joana Chicau, Jonathan Reus


Anatomies of Intelligence (AoI) is an artistic research project between Joana Chicau and Jonathan Reus, who together work to make connections between the formats and collections of anatomical knowledge and investigations into the “anatomy” of computational learning and prediction processes, datasets and machine learning models. 


Theme: performance, live coding, knowledge systems, machine learning, AI

More information:

  • Abstract: In the Anatomies of Intelligence performance we create an intricate and intimate experience that centers around a demonstration/dissection of a single unsupervised learning algorithm, “K-means”. Inspired by the anatomical theatre of the early-Enlightenment, the performance unfolds in a unique setting whereby the two artists sit around a circular table with their laptops, sending javascript commands to a server which relays those commands to a bespoke audio-visual performance “theatre” based in the web browser that is accessible to a global audience during the performance.

    Simultaneously, in-person the same distributed platform is used as the core audio-visual material to create an immersive experience for the audience on site where each step of the algorithm is slowed down, made visible, audible and felt.
    Amongst our focus points are those that relate to tacit knowledge and a reliance on the senses when accumulating knowledge about bodies and body-like structures. The concept of “aesthesis” has been especially useful in shaping our work; aesthesis is a somewhat obscure term occurring in eighteenth-century European medical and philosophical dictionaries describing “the faculty or power of sensation” (1) in scientific practice. Our concept of aesthesis shapes a methodology for this project that looks at the “sensory power” displayed by machine learning algorithms, their representations and sets of training data.

    Our research has been feeding a growing dataset and online repository (2) which gathers terminologies and techniques for a critical examination of the “anatomy” of learning and prediction processes and models of machine learning algorithms. The same platform is used to explore, through a performance practice combining live-coding, voice and meditative reflection, how such a collection and an artisanal algorithmic toolkit can confront the idealized bodies of artificial intelligence — its representational structures and sense-making processes.

    (1) Hendriksen, M.M.A., 2012, Doctoral Thesis, Leiden University.
    (2) Link:

  • Biography: Joana Chicau [PT/UK] is a designer and researcher — with a background in dance. In her practice she researches the intersection of the body with the constructed, designed, programmed environment, aiming at widening the ways in which digital sciences is presented and made accessible to the public. She has been actively participating and organizing events with performances involving multi-location collaborative coding, algorithmic improvisation, open discussions on gender equality and activism. Website:  

    Jonathan Chaim Reus [US/NL] is a musician and artist who explores expanded forms of music-making and improvisational performance through a critical, embodied engagement with technological artefacts. His practice is cross-disciplinary and research-based, involving open and iterative processes of collaboration with practitioners from across the arts, sciences and humanities. Increasingly his artistic work has used performance to probe the representational qualities of computing systems, algorithms, and infrastructures. Website:


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