Ai vs AI: Ai Weiwei confronts Artificial Intelligence in a ongoing exhibition

The Chinese artist draws inspiration from the interrogations endured during his imprisonment in China, as well as from the questions posed to the deity by China’s most ancient poet.

Since January 11th, Ai Weiwei has been posing one question per day to artificial intelligence for his latest project: AI vs AI. The project, lasting for 81 days, will conclude on March 31st, marking the artist's first experiment with artificial intelligence.

The duration mirrors Ai Weiwei’s confinement in a Chinese prison in 2011. During his incarceration, the artist underwent continuous interrogation by the Chinese Communist Party. This experience highlighted the total disproportion in the right to ask questions and receive answers, a paradoxical reflection of the relationship between human beings – who ask, ask, ask – and divinity – silent.

The project takes inspiration from Tiānwèn (天問, “Questions to the Sky”), an ancient poem found in the collection of Chu Songs (dating back approximately 2000 years). The poem consists of 172 questions, which legend has it were written by Qu Yuan, the first known Chinese poet, after contemplating various scenes depicted on the walls of the ancestral Chu temple on the same grounds as the temple.

Every day, the artist poses a question addressed to both artificial intelligence and the audience. The questions are presented every evening at 20:24 local time on Piccadilly Lights in London. Ai Weiwei’s project questions span philosophy, politics, science, and other fields, sometimes adopting serious tones, other times ironic or absurd. Moreover, the seemingly unanswered questions are daily broadcasted by the artistic and cultural platform CIRCA, illuminating not only London but also other locations worldwide, including Seoul, Berlin, and Milan. Ai Weiwei’s responses, along with those of AI, are then presented on the CIRCA website and social channels. “It’s not about freedom of speech,” Ai Weiwei stated, “It’s about the freedom to ask questions. Everyone has the right to ask questions”.

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