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Matteo Loglio and Six:Thirty have designed a network of floating buoys that generate poetry from local water conditions
10th September 2017

Water: An interview with Six:Thirty

Matteo Loglio and Six:Thirty have designed a network of floating buoys that generate poetry from local water conditions

“We believe that we can forge stronger bonds with our natural surroundings through art, design and technology,” says James from creative agency Six:Thirty, whose latest project Natural Networks is a web of floating buoys that generates poetry from local water conditions. Developed in collaboration with London-based interaction designer Matteo Loglio, Natural Networks is just one of 13 H20-themed projects on show as part of Water at Copeland Gallery this LDF. We caught up with James ahead of the exhibition to chat waterways, sensors and the creative potential of AI.

Natural Networks, Six:Thirty x Matteo Loglio

Anyone that’s spent time following poetry bots on Twitter can tell you that even without authorial intention, computers can generate some poignant moments and beautiful turns of phrase. It’s with this in mind that designer Matteo Loglio and creative agency Six:Thirty have developed Natural Networks, a water-born AI poet that records data from locations on London’s canals and uses it to generate machine-made verse.

“Rather than creating anything scientific; our project is an incitement to reflect on the limits of language and the creative potential of artificial intelligence,” explains James. “The intriguing messages generated encourage the consideration of (and engagement with) the physical locations that created them.”
Natural Networks render, Six:Thirty x Matteo Loglio

The bright orange 3D printed buoys, which draw on Matteo’s background in toy design, are embedded with environmental sensors that feed information about the light, temperature and motion to a Char-rnn network. This neural network is a kind of artificial brain, which is stimulated by the sensors, mimicking perception and emotions. The ability to see and analyse the world is then used to compose poetic text based on mood, starting from a large dataset of existing poetry.

The project explores a fun – if whacky – way of expressing the attributes of a physical place through artificial intelligence. “Compositions are influenced by a variety of artificial feelings, stimulated by sensors that are embodied in the canal itself,” says James. “The changes in the water environment directly affect the structure and the wording of the generated poems,” he adds.
Natural Networks, Six:Thirty x Matteo Loglio
The project is not the first time Six:Thirty and Matteo Loglio have worked together. Both helped develop adorable programming toy Cubetto (Matteo on product design and electronics and Six:Thirty on branding) and Matteo also contributed to Unread Messages, a Six:Thirty-curated Aram Gallery show that explored our love-hate relationship with technology. For the show Matteo, who is currently working at Google’s Creative Lab, developed Nomu, a filter system designed to help users beat the addictive behaviours built into social networks and digital media. Both practitioners specialise in projects that connect the digital and physical worlds. “We see Natural Networks  as a means to encourage consideration of and engagement with natural spaces,” adds James. “The project examines how we build emotive connections with the environment.”
Visit Water at Copeland Gallery from 19 – 24 September. For more info visit www.waterexhibition.co.uk
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