Freight Gallery | Chris Combs POLLINATION

By Editorial Team on October 30, 2023

Sun, November 5 2023 — Sun, November 5 2023

Reception: Sunday, November 5 from 4-6pm*

*Please note: the exhibition is on view and open to the public for the duration of the 2 hour reception only. 

Chris Combs’s artworks respond to pressing themes of surveillance, artificial intelligence, and algorithmic failure—and to the viewer, using facial recognition and motion sensing. He employs a wide range of practices to create circuit boards, software, and enclosures for interactive and time-based wood, metal, and found-object sculptures, which both embrace and question technology. Their custom circuitry is engineered by the artist and hand-soldered with millimeter-scale components. His sculptures address changes in our built technology environment—changes which often occur before we understand their implications.

POLLINATION interacts with faces and spoken words. Its camera recognizes faces and splays them into rotating flower-like shapes; a central microphone listens for speech and shows its transcripts on a multitude of small screens.

“In this work, I am analogizing the data that we spread when interacting in life to pollen: millions of invisible particles flowing in all directions with uncontrollable effects.

Nothing is uploaded from the artwork. POLLINATION uses ‘whisper.cpp,’ a neural network (‘AI’) speech transcription tool, to transcribe audio entirely within the device. Its facial recognition is powered by OpenCV. This is to say that many small computers are capable of listening to our speech and looking for our faces.

Neither technology is perfect; the same is true of other real-world applications. What happens if a real-time transcript of audio captured in a public place mishears your discussion of a broken ice maker as the name of a terrorist group? Or if a CCTV’s live facial recognition security product misidentifies you?”

Freight Gallery is located at 2414 Douglas Street NE Washington, DC 20018

There is plenty of on street parking.