Artist and architect Suchi Reddy will unveil a new, site-specific artificial intelligence (AI) and light sculpture in November 2021 as the centerpiece of “FUTURES,” the Smithsonian’s first major building-wide exploration of the future. Titled “me + you,” Reddy’s two-story installation weaves human wisdom and intelligent technology together, forming a shimmering monument reflective of visitors’ collective future visions.
The work marks Amazon Web Services’ (AWS) first major contemporary art commission, and its blurring of responsive light, color and AI, coalescing in a human-centric form, is groundbreaking in a public artwork. “me + you” will debut in the 90-foot-tall central rotunda of the historic Arts and Industries Building (AIB), America’s first National Museum, where the electric light made its Washington, D.C., public debut in 1881.
On view through July 2022, “FUTURES” will reopen the landmark space for the first time in nearly two decades to celebrate the Smithsonian’s 175th anniversary. With more than 150 objects, ideas, prototypes and installations, “FUTURES” will fuse art, technology, design and history to invite visitors to dream big and imagine not just one future, but many possible futures on the horizon.
Reddy will invite visitors to activate “me + you” by speaking their “future vision” into designated points at its cloud base. The artwork then translates their meaning, tone and sentiment through a series of AWS AI services tuned in collaboration with the artist, reflecting their words back as a unique kinetic mandala of color and light.
Each person’s “future vision” then flows upward into a central totem, subtly shifting the pattern and color of the sculpture’s digital artifact of “collective futures.” The work will evolve continuously throughout the run of the exhibition. For those who cannot join in person, a parallel web app will allow anyone, anywhere to contribute their future and voice, taking a global “temperature” of what the world is saying at any given moment.
To create the work, a team of engineers from AWS, Amazon’s cloud-computing division, worked closely with Reddy for two years, investing more than 1,200 hours to build the underlying AI cloud-technology infrastructure that will power both the sculpture and web platform.
“This breathtaking installation is a powerful and fitting central destination for ‘FUTURES,’ blending humanity and technology, said Rachel Goslins, director of AIB. “We’re grateful to partners at AWS for their vision and support from the earliest stages of this project.”
“I believe that the power of art lies in its ability to show us new information about ourselves, and to cause us to reflect on the human condition, our cultures and communities,” Reddy said. “Art is a form of wisdom that delights, enlightens and prompts engagement. Human connection and human interaction are integral to ‘me + you,’ and the sculpture encourages visitors to explore their individual voice as well as to recognize our collective power.” Source by Smithsonian . Photo courtesy of Smithsonian Arts + Industries Building and Suchi Reddy