AI Artist Spotlight: Sougwen Chung

Sougwen Chung is prominent within the AI space. She has won awards for her exploration of the level of communication that may be possible between humans and machines.

Chung’s work aims to explore human and machine co-creation, a process that is developed and executed in real time. The operations reflect the process, possibilities, and the paranoias surrounding the time in which the works were created. They are inspired by the Krebs Cycle of Creativity, a view of creativity as a process of interrelated disciplines. These ideas have garnered Chung a position among the most highly regarded AI and text-to-image artists, including Stephanie Dinkins and Mario Klingemann.

Biography

Sougwen Chung is a Chinese-Canadian artist and researcher. She is the founder and the artistic director behind Scilicet, a London-based studio that explores the collaboration between humans and robots.

Chung grew up in Toronto, Canada, and Hong Kong. Her father, who was an opera singer, ensured that his children had experience with musical instruments, and as such, Chung grew up playing the violin and the piano. She moved to the United States as a teenager and received a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Indiana University, after which she obtained a master’s degree in Interactive Art from Hyper Island in Sweden.

Chung is also a former researcher at the MIT Media Lab, and has been considered a pioneer within the field of human-machine collaboration.

Sougwen Chung AI Projects

Drawing Operations

Drawing Operations Unit: Generation 1 was a performance featuring a drawing collaboration between a person and a machine. In this piece, a robot mimics a person’s drawing movements in real time, and vice versa, for a fully collaborative experience.

Drawing Operations Unit: Generation 2 was a later experiment in which artificial memory was explored, and Chung took an in-depth look at how a machine could learn an artists' drawing style.

Omnia Per Omnia

In this piece, Chung explored the tradition of landscape painting using a collaboration between an artist and artificial intelligence. 

This work specifically explores the poetics of various modes of sensing–both human and machine, organic and synthetic, and improvisational and computational. This drawing performance, between Sougwen and an array of custom-designed drawing robots, explores the agency and creativity of both a human and a machine.

Why Chung Loves AI

Chung has primarily used AI to see the collaboration that an artist and AI can have. In some experiments, the robot can mimic the artist's drawing gestures in real time, resulting in a synchronised performance. Then, the robot's memory is explored, during which the machine has to execute the drawing style of the artist's hand. 

Chung enjoys working with AI because she can explore marks made by human hands compared to those made by machines as an approach towards broadening our understanding of the interaction between humans and computers. Her speculative and critical practice has spanned across installations, sculptures, performances, drawings, and still images.