Pacific | Artificial intelligence (AI)

Tongan artist criticises artificial intelligence while using it to showcase ‘creepiness’ in her art

AI has created this from Tui Emma Gillies art work. Image / Supplied

A Tongan artist is critiquing artificial intelligence while using the technology in her heritage art form of ngatu tapa.

Auckland’s Tui Emma Gillies’ artwork includes tapa cloth (decorated bark cloth) with contemporary elements of geometrical designs featuring a floral and feminine touch.

Gillies’ ancestors’ legacy has reached national and international levels including the National Maritime Museum, Auckland War Memorial Museum, Grassi museum in Germany, National Gallery of Victory in Melbourne, and Pick Museum of Anthropology in Illinois, the United States.

Her first solo exhibition, View from the Deep, is calling upon the potential threats of living with AI, showcasing climate change and technology taking over the world.

She was experimenting with AI, satisfying her curiosity about what her visual art would turn out to be when she found the “creepy” side of her creatives.

“What I can say is that I found the experience at times quite terrifying.

“Visually, everything seemed to tend further and further towards the reptilian and I found that if this creator without a soul bore any resemblance to biological life, it was to the reptilian world.”

Tui Emma Gillies at her artist in residence, Sutton House, with her covered tapa spheres. Photo / Supplied

She gives an example of the Lavender tool, a software technology reportedly used to identify targets during the Israel-Hamas war.

Gillies says when it comes to AI, humans need to be careful and just back away.

“As a species, we need to look at how far we want AI to be controlling our lives, and whether have we got enough time to stop it before it becomes out of control.”

She encourages people to be aware of AI through her artwork to show what it produces because it’s concerning how far humans can rely on this technology.

She believes human greed and complacency are fast-tracking climate change, destroying biodiversity and the fragile ecosystems it creates, and supporting the ways of AI to get rid of the mortal world.

“Will it get through a point where climate change will be affecting everything and we ‘ll be asking it, [ can you help us save the world] and what if it’s too intelligent by then?”

“My heritage art form is in my DNA, it’s been practised for centuries, I don’t see AI getting that intelligent and I liked the natural fibre of my work.

Gillies says AI can help, but will never be able to take over natural artistic vision.

The exhibition will be up at Fibre Gallery, 285 Cashel Street, Level 1, Christchurch Central until May 24.

Gillies' earlier tapa cloth The Last Supper.

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