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February 15, 2021 - Comments Off on The atlas as a visual medium

The atlas as a visual medium

A short while ago I came across an inspiring talk on youtube from scientist and writer Kate Crawford called 'The anatomy of AI'. Since AI is a fairly broad and abstract concept and I wanted to know more about it, I watched this talk. A talk that addresses the toll AI is taking on our planet: the world behind AI, what is AI made of? What does AI physically mean in this world? The talk also mentions Kate's book 'The Atlas of AI', which goes deeper into this topic. Why I mention this book and topic on my blog: first of all I'm interested in abstract topics (and visualizing them), secondly, Kate uses the metaphor of an atlas to delve deep into the AI topic: she sees AI like an atlas. I thought this was a very nice metaphor, suitable for going into AI at different levels and from different angles. As she describes it herself in the book:

'An atlas presents you with a particular viewpoint of the world, with the imprimatur of science [...] and a sense of form and consistency.
Yet an atlas is as much an act of creativity - a subjective, political, and aesthetic intervention - as it is a scientific collection. The French philosopher Georges Didi-Huberman thinks of the atlas as something that inhabits the aesthetic paradigm of the visual and the epistemic paradigm of knowledge. By implicating both, it undermines the idea that science and art are ever completely separate. Instead an atlas offers us the possibility of rereading the world, linking disparate pieces differently and "reediting and piecing it together again without thinking we are summarizing or exhausting it."'

Atlas of AI, by Kate Crawford

An atlas can be a beautiful, comprehensive visual form to explain and discover abstract and complex subjects, such as subjects in psychology, philosophy and science. It doesn't have to have a linear order, so you don't necessarily have to start at A to view / read D. It can cover the various sides of a topic. Kate Crawford's book is about a textual atlas, but of course an atlas can have different shapes. I want to end this article with some great atlas examples.

Atlas of the Copenhagens, by Joost Grootens:

Anatomy of AI - by Kate Crawford and Vladan Joler:

Atlas of AI, by Kate Crawford:

The Atlas of the Dutch language (In Dutch: Atlas van de Nederlandse Taal), by Mathilde Jansen, Nicoline van der Sijs, Fieke van der Gucht, Johan de Caluwe:

Exhibition 'Solid, Liquid, Vapour', about the relationship between humans and water, by Esther Kokmeijer, in 2018 in Tent Rotterdam:

Published by: Dirma in Uncategorized

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