a digital artwork

by Gregory Feldforth

Still 01 from Nudge

"nudge" is a digital artwork that simulates a hair cell having it’s metabolic pathways nudged, inspired by the research process of our collaborator, Dr Zoe Mann.

︎︎︎︎︎︎Read more about the process and thinking behind the artwork below.
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︎to ENTER Nudge, click on image

︎︎Sound on this artwork includes sound

︎︎Move around the artwork by draging your mouse or finger on screen

︎︎︎ enter artwork by clicking on image,

Nudge is inspired by the research of Dr Zoe Mann.

︎︎︎read more about Zoe’s work here
︎︎︎read about the learning workshop that inspired Greg 

In nudging metabolic pathways of hair cells, Zoe is researching the different signals that tell hair cells where they form and what they become in order to carry out their functions in the auditory system.

“From learning about Zoe’s research, I was captivated by the idea of the seemingly infinite unknown parameters within something so small as a cell, and the seemingly random occurrences that could be triggered as a result of "nudging metabolic pathways". In tweaking small inputs and observing a technology greater than yourself made me reflect on my relationship with artificial intelligence. As somebody who uses AI, but does not actively create it, I am always at a degree of separation from the technology. Much like a scientist is at a degree of separation from the majority of the technology within a cell. To me, everything that happens within that space is magic. I wanted to explore this magic further.”
Still 02 from Nudge
still from Nudge

Still 03 from Nudge
still from Nudge

Nudge recreates Zoe’s scientific process, but instead of using hair cells in a laboratory, Gregory uses sound as his subject and Artificial intelligence as the host for the experiment. 

Gregory used audio of Zoe talking about her process for the testbed, and replaced the hair cells with AI code. To mirror Zoe’s nudging of metabolic pathways inside the cells, Gregory then tweaked parts of the code inside the AI.

“The AI had previously been trained on thousands of clips of audio, and therefore contained a seemingly infinite and random assortment of knowledge, much like my interpretation of a cell. The AI then begins a process of interpreting the input audio and generating an output whereby it would essentially guess where the sentence was going. I couldn't very easily access or extrapolate the information within the AI, but I was able to tweak the code to adapt some of the processes the AI used to generate new audio. This was my way of nudging the metabolic pathways of the cell to be different, or tweaking things slightly to make different types of cell.”

The visuals were created with the same process, presenting a mirrored audio-visual piece, which can be experienced with and without sound. The visuals were created with the help of Elliott Elder, a visual artist and regular collaborator of Gregory's. The outcome audio was fed into a second AI that interpreted and transcribed the sound into typographic visuals. As with the sound, various parameters of the code were nudged to create varying results. Like the audio, the resulting transcriptions fluctuate from capturing Zoe’s original dialogue to abstract visuals of expressionism.

Still 04 from Nudge
still from Nudge

Still 06 from Nudge
still from Nudge
“My piece "nudge" is a celebration of the unknown knowledge within every cell, giving licence to mysterious processes, and what's more a celebration of the incredible work that science researchers do every day. Until we fully understand each tweak, and its corresponding result, the inner workings of the cell are an enigma. It is with each nudge that we develop an understanding. There may be a time where there are no more questions to be answered, nothing left to be nudged, but until then there will be a bit of magic existing within every single cell in every one of us.”