This is a good year indeed for fans of Stanley Kubrick: There’s a vast show about his work at London’s Design Museum; a photography project celebrating the Thamesmead backdrop of his film A Clockwork Orange; and throughout April and May the BFI presented a season dedicated to both Kubrick’s masterpieces and other films inspired by them.
Now, a new take on the director and his work has been created as part of a masters thesis project conceived at The Bartlett at the Interactive Architecture Lab. Entitled Neural Kubrick, the piece aims to explore the movie-making process with machine learning.
As Anirudhan Iyengar, one of the interaction designers and architects behind the project points out, in 1968 Kubrick in 1968 speculated on the arrival of human-level Artificial Intelligence in 2001 A Space Odyssey.
“Some 16 years past his prediction, our project, Neural Kubrick, examines the state of the art in machine learning, using the latest in deep neural network techniques to reinterpret and redirect Kubrick’s own films,” says Iyengar, who worked with Anirudhan Iyengar, Yulia Marouda and heshamhattab on the project.
The project works through three machine learning algorithms that take on the roles of an “AI film crew”: one acts as an art director, one as a film editor and the last as director of photography.
"The limitations of the machine are achieved by the artist and the limitations of the artist are achieved by the algorithm," says the team. "In the context of the project, what the machine interprets is limited to either number, classification of features or generation of abstract images. This output is curated by us into a coherent narrative, translated back into human perception."
Each of the three machine learning models is based on a different key Kubrick film; these are The Shining, A Clockwork Orange, and 2001 A Space Odyssey. The videos generated by the AI technologies display a "machinic interpretation of the three movies, through a collaborative effort between the artist and the algorithm," says the team.
Ostensibly, it’s a video art project and loving image to Kubrick, that expands on the influence of his creative work by exploring the potential of artificial intelligence to actually make creative work itself.