“As solar energy excites molecules of chlorophyll pigment in the process of photosynthesis, human existence is constantly being transformed into metadata to develop artificial intelligence. The Metatorium explores the shared nuances between nature and technology and of observing and being observed.”

Metatorium was an artificial intelligence-based interactive display designed with an NYU team over one month. This project was inspired by the idea of AI’s influence on us all through everyday devices.

As such, a pop-up window used facial recognition to communicate with those who, while passing by, interacted with it. Essentially, users saw a device with a flash “taking their picture,” and heard an advanced robot speaking with them about their clothing, their day, or whatever the robot mentioned. Of course, this “robot” was controlled by our team.

Across six days of activity, the display interacted with 144,014 people. While we are constantly feeding artificial intelligence with our images and voices, perhaps they are also feeding us with the attention desired by all people.

On Broadway and 10th Street, bypassers stop to engage with the Metatorium display. Their reflection on the screen combined with the flashing lights gives the impression of a photo being taken, intriguing their interest and extending their visit. Reading the computer screen next to their image, users are spooked by the machine’s knowledge of their names and requests, not realizing that behind-the-scenes the developers of the Metatorium display are controlling its words.

Created by: Alexia Kyriakopoulos, Ari Melenciano, Grau Puche & Regina Cantu.