The Appprentices

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The Appprentices are behavioral objects that learn through vibration, co-created with Samuel Bianchini and Elena Tosi Brandi.

Three soft, identical objects move on a circular stage, producing material sounds amplified by the vibratory space of the stage. Progressively, their sounds and movements synchronize, as if they were learning to help each other. Then, they separate and move off-beat, as if they were learning to compete against each other. Finally, when the audience comes and softly hit the stage, they learn to reproduce the rhythm of the vibration, as if they grew attached to starting a communication.

The Appprentices result from a diffractive practice of machine learning, entangling design, music, art, engineering, and anthropology. We elicited social concepts to guide the design of behaviours for our object collective. We composed rhythmic structures as temporal forms embodying these concepts. We prototyped multi-agent reinforcement learning, reinforcement learning, and supervised learning to generate rhythmic variations within each behaviour. We designed a machine learning sonification to reinforce the feeling that objects tune into their environment, suggesting embodied ways for humans to be attentive to their non-human counterparts.


The project was developed with Samuel Bianchini and Elena Tosi-Brandi, with the support of Franck Weens, Victor Audouze, Corentin Loubet, Didier Bouchon, Colin Bouvry, Joffrey Becker, and Joséphine Mas, in collaboration with the Reflective Interaction group of EnsadLab, and the Art Direction Nods team of Orange Xdlab, in the context of a postdoctoral fellowship program at École des Arts Décoratifs, Paris.

Paper at DIS (2021)
Paper at ICRA-X (2021)

Exhibition @ Biennale Internationale Design, Saint-Étienne, Fr (April-June 2022)