Christopher Baker

Yawn Chorus (2016)

An Orchestra of Yawns

The Yawn Chorus involves creating a yawning orchestra. The Yawn Chorus has as its main component an artificial intelligence (AI) that can identify yawns. It’s able to recognize a yawn as, or even before, it strikes. As yawns are contagious for humans (and actually for many animals), the AI can trigger chain reactions of yawns by capturing and releasing yawns. In reference to the title of the work, the figure of speech “dawn chorus” describes the morning occurrence when birds sing at the start of the day. Often overlapping, birds sing as they each wake and trigger one another into a layered warm morning song. The Yawn Chorus invites the audience to sit, lie back, relax and listen to the AI sing melodies constructed purely out of yawns. The piece begins by showing relaxing footage filmed by the artists themselves that aims to evoke yawns and trigger the self-perpetuating chorus. Footage includes curtains blowing in the wind, Chinese cat souvenirs pawing as metronomes, a boat sitting in a wake and more. As the piece progresses, the computer will learn more and more how to identify yawns. It will become smarter in predicting and also evoking them. As the AI captures more yawns, it is actually capturing more “instruments” for its orchestra. Viewers can watch as the AI musician moves from a one-computer band to a thousand-strong orchestra of yawns. The work aims to shed light on the growing prevalence of AI in our daily lives and its limitless abilities to understand human behavior. By engaging visitors’ imaginations through a playful topic such as contagious yawns, the artists aim to open the conversation of what a future of algorithms might be and how we can create a more human empathic world.



Specifications

Medium

Custom Software, Custom Hardware

Dimensions

Variable. Typical 60 ft x 12 ft

Collaborators

  • Alex Rothera
  • Christopher G. Thompson
  • Shekpoint Charlie

Press

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