April 20, 2024

Featured in Art Basel: Understanding the legacy of Harold Cohen, the world’s first AI artist

With his art-making software dating back to the 1960s, the programmer and artist paved the way for today’s confluence of art and technology

Is artificial intelligence a tool to be used by humans to creative ends or is it a creative agent in its own right? The late artist and programmer Harold Cohen considered these questions in his 1973 essay ‘Parallel to Perception’ and articulated a position shared by many artists working with AI today: ‘Tools generally serve to extend or to delimit various human functions,’ he wrote, ‘but of all the many tools invented by man only the computer has the power to perform functions which parallel those of the mind itself, and its autonomy is thus not entirely illusory.’ In other words, the computer can play a more independent role in the creative process than, say, a paintbrush or a camera.

Cohen proved this point artistically with his best-known project ‘AARON’, an art-making software he conceived in the late 1960s and developed until his death in 2016. As explored in ‘Harold Cohen: AARON’, a new exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, Cohen designed AARON specifically so that the software, and thus the machine running it, could make decisions with as little human input as possible. Today, AARON is known as the earliest example of an art-making AI. Reflecting on AARON’s relative simplicity, in comparison to the AI models used by contemporary artists, can show us how far we have come, but also what has remained constant.

April 20, 2024

Featured on Prestige Magazine: A Mind of Its Own: Alex Israel and Sougwen Chung on AI Art

What role, if any, should artificial intelligence play in the world of art and content creation? Prestige asks AI-art experts Alex Israel and Sougwen Chung.

As soon as artificial intelligence become easily accessible through the likes of ChatGPT, DALL•E 2 and Midjourney, it began raising endless questions about how humanity can co-exist with the ever-expanding and evolving digital realm. And when it comes to art, the questions become even more pertinent.  

Although it can be used as a tool, AI is increasingly being utilised to create end products, which are then sold and credited to the artist using the technology. To what extent can creators claim ownership over these works? Will AI completely take over human artists? Should we fear this technology? To answer these questions, we sought the help of American multimedia artist Alex Israel and Canadian-born Chinese artist and researcher Sougwen Chung. 


April 20, 2024

Featured in RIGHT CLICK SAVE: The Future of Creative AI

Two leaders in the field of machine learning assess its progressive potential for art and beyond

For over a decade, Mick Grierson has been leading research into creative applications of AI. As a co-founder of the Creative Computing Institute, he has helped to drive inclusive approaches to a range of fields: from creative coding to machine learning, and from sensing to software. In that time, Luba Elliott has become an essential curator in the field of creative AI, a term which Grierson first attributes to Elliott. At a moment when artists are rewiring the digital systems that envelop society, RCS invited them to discuss AI’s trajectory as a creative tool.


October 16, 2023

Featured on R\SCENE: Looking to the Future, Artist Sougwen Chung on Collaborating With AI and Machines

Since 2015, artist Sougwen Chung has pioneered the use of AI and robotics in their work, producing a series of artworks built on the principle of “human-machine collaboration.”

A new exhibition at London’s House of Fine Art (HOFA) gallery, “Relational Gestures,” showcases work from Chung’s recent career, including their iconic paintings produced using robotic arms, AI models trained on their previous body of work, and biofeedback trackers.

“I think I’m always looking to the future, really,” Chung told Decrypt’s SCENE at HOFA. “I don't know if that sounds a bit cheesy!”

A former fellow of MIT Media Lab and Google Artist in Residence, Chung was recently named as one of Time magazine’s 100 most influential people in AI.

Sougwen Chung artwork at HOFA
Sougwen Chung artwork at HOFA. Image: HOFA

Chung’s practice has evolved with developments in robotics and AI, they explained. “I typically find something that I'm interested in,” Chung said. “Obviously, meditation and biofeedback [are] sort of the focus of this painting series. Prior to that it was open flow and the movement of cities; prior to that it was the current neural networks.”

Throughout their career, Chung has worked alongside DOUG (Drawing Operations Unit: Generation ___), an evolving series of AI-powered robots. The first generation of DOUG used robot arms that attempted to duplicate the artist’s pen strokes, relying on the robot’s limitations to produce spontaneous effects.

Sougwen Chung artwork at HOFA
Sougwen Chung artwork at HOFA. Image: HOFA

“I think in the very beginning, something that motivated the practice was speculating at the beauty of a non-human move,” they said, referencing Go player Lee Sedol’s quote after his defeat by the deep learning program AlphaGo. “I really loved that, because it meant that his engagement—even through defeat—with his digital opponent meant that he was broadening his internal model of what was possible within the game and what was possible within how he saw beauty,” Chung said.

The more recent works featured in the exhibition highlight Chung’s interest in “new human-machine configurations that are connected to biofeedback.”

To create these works, the artist uses an EEG headset that tracks their brainwaves as they meditate; their robotic “assistants” then respond to these biofeedback signals, tracing patterns with paintbrushes alongside Chung’s own brushstrokes.

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hpEE_s0pN64&t=6s

Also included in the exhibition are a series of works in which the artist “paints” in virtual reality, with the resulting patterns printed onto aluminum discs. “I’ve been thinking about gesture quite deeply,” Chung said, explaining that they designed a system in VR to “essentially record my drawing sensibility and my brushstrokes, in a way that not only can be brought in and sculpted in virtual reality space, but also printed.”

Upcoming works, Chung added, will include 3D versions cast in aluminum. “It’s also become the basis for a new drawing data set in three dimensions for a forthcoming generation of DOUG.”

Sougwen Chung artwork at HOFA
Sougwen Chung artwork at HOFA. Image: HOFA

Chung has also founded SCILICET, a studio exploring human and non-human collaboration.

“I've been thinking about human and machine collaboration for quite some time, interpreting that under my own lens, and under my own traditions—thinking, obviously, a lot about drawing and cultural hybridity as a Chinese-Canadian artist,” they said. “But I realized that there are many different types of interpretations of human and machine collaboration,” Chung added, noting that they’ve set up the studio “to support and try to find like minds, who are also bridging tradition and technology in their own way.”

While Chung’s approach to AI focuses on collaboration, the wider art world is wrestling with the implications of the technology. “I do think there are a lot of different ways to look at the relation between ourselves and artificial intelligence, and I'm quite interested in all manners of speculation around it,” Chung said. “I'm actually quite interested personally in exclusively critical work, because I think that has a lot of intellectual rigor and a lot of passion and heart.”

Sougwen Chung artwork at HOFA
Sougwen Chung artwork at HOFA. Image: HOFA

For their part, Chung hopes that their work “straddles a line between hope and despair, hope and fear, that allows people to sit with it—because I think it can be a very difficult topic. It can be a very existentially uncertain topic and we need spaces and to always broaden the conversation about what that means for humanity.”

“We’ve built systems in a certain way that are always flawed, they're always fragile; they're always brittle, as we are,” Chung added. “I think there are ways to design more just, more fair systems, but we should never assume that any technology is neutral, because it isn't. It's neither good nor bad.”

Edited by Andrew Hayward


October 14, 2023

Featured on Mutual Art: Relational Gestures

HOFA Gallery, London


OCT 14, 2023 - OCT 25, 2023

The Chinese-Canadian artist and artistic director of London-based studio, Scilicet, is renowned for their visionary and speculative practice exploring human-AI collaboration. Sougwen Chung’s forthcoming 2-week show is centred on the idea of hybridity as a relational approach which resolves adversarial perceptions of AI through balance, openness, and imagination. 

The ‘Human and Machine’ collaborative hybrid is fundamental to Sougwen Chung’s research-driven practice and the Relational Gestures HOFA exhibition will feature physical paintings and artefacts, digital videos, AR sculptures and immersive media installations that demonstrate this hybridity in subtle and compelling ways. The artist will also offer some of their works as collectible NFTs. 

Reflecting on the potential impact of their upcoming show, Sougwen Chung says, "Relational Gestures will showcase a body of artefacts and new works that result from a hybrid process, encouraging the viewer  to look beyond screens and flat interfaces to imagine the possible sensory mixes of the future. Through the work I am thinking deeply about  how the human hand, how human creative capabilities, might evolve as a direct result of the possibilities afforded by embodied AI."

Sougwen Chung: Relational Gestures - HOFA Gallery, London

Artists on show


August 17, 2023

Featured on Martin Cid Magazine: The 0xCollection Launches in Prague with group exhibition and new public commission by Refik Anadol


he 0xCollection (pronounced “Hex Collection”), an initiative of new media and time-based art by contemporary artists at the forefront of innovation, premiers its international exhibition programme in Prague on 8 September 2023 with a new immersive installation from Refik Anadol and a group show from 8 leading digital artists. Founded by Karel Komárek, entrepreneur and philanthropist, 0x is based in Basel under the direction of curator Elle Anastasiou and champions a networked approach to collecting by working with artists, curators, historians and technologists to develop today’s digital art for future generations.

With a decentralised approach to collecting and curating at its core, the collection was created with the purpose of public display and engagement around contemporary artistic and technical innovation. Elle Anastasiou, Director of the 0xCollection, says: 

‘As 0x, we have committed ourselves to building a new collection that operates as a living organism — an ecosystem presenting art at the forefront of technological innovation, encouraging active dialogue while preserving the artefacts of today. The primary aim of this Collection is to provide a new media vocabulary for audiences in the now, by honouring both the histories and futures shaping this cultural moment.’ 


Presented in front of the historic Rudolfinum as part of the renowned annual classical music festival Dvořák Prague, the 0xCollection unveils the latest Machine Hallucination by internationally renowned digital artist Refik Anadol. The newly commissioned large-scale installation harnesses the latest in machine learning and artificial intelligence to commemorate the legacy of Czech composer Antonín Dvořák (1841-1904).  DVOŘÁK DREAMS has been developed over the last two years with LA-based artist Refik Anadol, using his signature algorithms trained on original data, music and records from throughout Dvořák ’s life, sourced from within the Czech Republic and abroad. The commission demonstrates 0x’s mission to honour cultural pasts in the present through a radical combination of art and technology, bridging the gap that often separates digital art from the lineage of traditional art history and culture at large.   


Exhibited in the Arts Space at Bořislavka, Synesthetic Immersion highlights the work of 8 new media artists whose creations translate one art form into another through radical interdisciplinary technologies. Exploring synaesthesia (derived from the Greek for ‘united perception’) as a poetic and a neurological state, the artworks demonstrate the transformation of an input perceived by one sense into an output in another. In this hybrid mechanism, a colour can have sound, or an artwork can directly induce sensation.   

One of glitch art’s pioneers, Japanese artist Ryoji Ikeda is best known for his mathematical, immersive live performances and installations which span visual and sonic media. In Prague, he will present data.gram 14 (2022), a piece from his larger dataverse trilogy which translates 2D sequences of patterns derived from hard drive errors and studies of software code into dramatic rotating views of the universe in 3D.   

image 60
Still from video courtesy of the artist

Chinese-Canadian artist Sougwen Chung specialises in the expanding field of human-machine collaboration, a realm where the interplay between mark-made-by-hand and mark-made-by-machine unveils insights into the dynamics between humans and systems. For the exhibition, she will present works from her ongoing Ligatures series (2021 – 2023) in both screen-based and AR formats, delving into the delicate interplay between traditional sculpture and non-traditional, post-physical architecture through mathematical and gestural translations.   QUAYOLA, the multidisciplinary Italian artist who draws inspiration from Hellenistic sculpture, Old Master painting, and Baroque architecture, uses technology to explore the intricate confluence of seemingly contrasting forces. The exhibition sees him display Transient Suite #B (2020): the innovative audiovisual concert which marks a collaborative journey of research and experimentation with experimental musician Seta, as well as QUAYOLA’s first music-based project.   Meanwhile, British artist and quantum physicist Libby Heaney crafts an ethereal dreamscape titled Ent-er the Garden of Forking Paths (2022) in one of the first artworks to use future computing as an aesthetic tool. Inspired by Hieronymus Bosch’s vibrant depictions of heaven and hell in the Garden of Earthly Delights, Heaney invites viewers to transcend the boundaries of perception by using quantum computing to animate alternate states of existence.   Collaborating with the Takahashi Laboratory at the University of Tokyo, Japanese artist Daito Manabe’s Cells: A Generation (2023) delves into generative art by harnessing the computational potential of rat brain cells. Developing a mechanism that enables rat neurons to learn and create art based on their environment, the resulting video installation transforms the neural learning process into a visual spectacle akin to human artists working with physical elements like canvas, paint, or stone.  

In his sculptural installation series Aoyama Space Nr. 5 (2009), German artist and musician Carsten Nicolai reinterprets the form of a Tokyo photo studio, creating a miniature, concave room devoid of edges to develop an enigmatic spatial conceit. Illumination emanates from electronic harmonies, ranging from deep resonant bass to high-pitched clicks, modulating sound to further spatial speculation. Between a shifting kaleidoscope of shapes and colour, elegant yet elusive hardware, and sonic irritation, this piece stands as a testament to Carsten Nicolai’s practice, which transcends traditional boundaries by embracing the intersection of science, technology, and aesthetics.   Nancy Baker Cahill exhibits The Quivering and Lively Nerve of the Now (2023): a film mirroring Clarice Lispector’s Água Viva in its celebration of selfhood, desire, and unbridled passion. Building upon the foundation of her recent series, Slipstream: Table of Contents, the American new media artist mediates literature through the realm of digital art by using a phrase from Água Viva as the animating force behind the film’s abstract narrative: ‘I am before, I am almost, I am never’.   Lastly, Lu Yang’s DOKU : Hello World (2021) continues the Chinese artist’s exploration of the digital realm. The iconic piece introduced Lu Yang’s alter-ego avatar, Doku – a striking character that transcends the rigid confines of identity, nationality, and gender. In the piece, Lu Yang weaves together virtual reality, gaming subcultures, and popular music, creating an immersive experience that celebrates the liberation of one’s identity in the internet landscape.   Full list of participating artists: Ryoji Ikeda, Sougwen Chung, QUAYOLA, Libby Heaney, Daito Manabe, Carsten Nicolai, Nancy Baker Cahill and Lu Yang.   The 0xCollection’s opening programme in Prague is kindly sponsored by Allwyn. The partnership builds on Allwyn’s rich heritage of innovation and support for cultural initiatives and young talent.


May 22, 2023

Review on The Straits Times: Realm Of Silk is elegant proof that AI and human artistry go hand in hand

Singapore International Festival of Arts (Sifa)
Realm Of Silk
Sougwen Chung
Victoria Theatre
Saturday (May 20)

With artificial intelligence (AI) sending waves of upheavals in the art world, it is apt that this year’s Sifa – positioning itself at the artistic vanguard – has commissioned a work that offers a mesmerising reply.

Realm Of Silk presents a perspective that defends the human artist without being defensive about human genius.

Four AI-powered robotic arms writhe and write on stage, but they are co-maestros with two other pairs of human hands belonging to Canadian artist Sougwen Chung and Singaporean cellist Leslie Tan.

In 45 engrossing minutes, the audience follows these eight hands as they compose a painting on a flat canvas that is often out of view, inviting one to engage instead with the performers’ bodily gestures.

Dressed in pristine white, Chung leaps elegantly across the circular canvas with a brush in hand while she feeds the robotic arms ink, the way an animal whisperer might extend a bowl of water to a bevy of baby deer.

Canadian artist Sougwen Chung paints with four AI-driven robotic arms in the festival commission, Realm Of Silk. PHOTO: MOONRISE STUDIO

Her tender gestures – such as cupping the “cheeks” of these robots – are visual tricks. They morph the mechanical arms into something animal-like until, at times, they arch uncannily like human wrists.

Canadian-born musician Aquarian’s score is an atmospheric wall of music that sustains itself like a long note through the show, aided by Tan’s flowing legatos.

Tan, with generous sweeps of his bow, goes beyond a musical duet with Chung. The spectacle crescendos into a symphonic movement of arms that fastens the eye.

When a large moon of a mirror descends, the audience gets a distorted glimpse of the canvas. But the abstract curves are not as interesting as the view one gets of the moving arms from an aerial perspective.

Chung, who has spent a decade working with technology as an art partner, is neither cynical nor naive about algorithms. Instead, she improvises an artistic language for talking to machines that audiences play witness to.

But there is more than meets the eye about this collaboration, as Chung reveals in a post-show talk that the headset she dons allows her brainwaves to influence the movement of the robots.

Chung dons a headset that allows her brainwaves to influence the movement of the robots on stage. PHOTO: MOONRISE STUDIO

Although not visible on stage, her work takes an ethical stance towards human-robot collaboration that is antithetical to trending AI software, which is trained on other artists’ content to create something iffily “new”.

Chung, instead, transforms her own neural waves and artworks into the dataset for robotic intervention.

Her emphasis on performing these collaborations in real-time, instead of doggedly pursuing output, slows down any quick judgments on AI art and turns one’s attention to art-making.

Realm Of Silk shows how something utterly beautiful can arise from being all hands on deck, robot or human, without assigning full control to either man or machine.


April 23, 2023

Featured on Artsy: How AI Is Changing the Art Market

Veena McCoole

Sougwen Chung

Study 24 , 2023HOFA Gallery (House of Fine Art)

Price on request

Since the COVID-19 lockdowns accelerated the art market’s transition to remote sales, collectors have warmed to tools like augmented reality simulators and online viewing rooms—or simply high-resolution imagery—to help them view and acquire works from afar.

Among the most recent technological developments to shake up the digital art world is AI. Artificial intelligence tools, from large language models (LLMs) like ChatGPT to image generators like DALL-E, have the power to synthesize enormous amounts of data, automate some rote tasks, and even draw upon existing information in the public domain to create new expressions of digital “art” and text.

Some artists such as Sougwen Chung and Anna Ridler have incorporated AI into their artistic practice, and for those in the commercial art world, mainstream AI-powered productivity tools are already being harnessed. Artsy spoke to a cross-section of the art market, including gallerists, advisors, auction houses, and entrepreneurs, to find out how they believe AI will impact buying activity in the market.


January 1, 2023

‘In Search of the Present’ among 10 best art exhibitions to see in 2023 – Wallpaper*

‘In Search of the Present’ at Espoo Museum of Modern Art, Finland was selected as one of the 10 best art exhibitions to see in 2023, by Wallpaper* arts editor Harriet Lloyd-Smith.

"What is intelligence, where it can be found, and where it can go? asks EMMA’s group show ‘In Search of the Present’. 16 artists including Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, Refik Anadol, Raimo Saarinen and Sougwen Chung dissect the intersections of nature, technology and art. As well as cutting-edge AI, the show also spotlights the often underestimated power of intelligence in the natural world."

Read the article here.

Wallpaper* has also previously written about "In Search of the Present" in an article entitled: Art, technology and nature intersect at Finland’s Espoo Museum of Modern Art.

Sougwen 愫君 Chung is a Chinese-Canadian artist and researcher. Chung is the founder and artistic director of ⇢ SCILICET, a studio exploring human & non-human collaboration.

A former research fellow at MIT’s Media Lab, Sougwen is considered a pioneer in the field of human-machine collaboration – exploring the mark-made-by-hand and the mark-made-by-machine as an approach to understanding the dynamics of humans and systems. 

— Sougwen 愫君 Chung is a Chinese-born, Canadian-raised artist & (re)searcher based in London / New York / Hong Kong.

— Sougwen 愫君 Chung is a Chinese-born, Canadian-raised artist & (re)searcher based in London / New York / Hong Kong.

— Sougwen 愫君 Chung is a Chinese-born, Canadian-raised artist & (re)searcher based in London / New York / Hong Kong.

Copyright Sougwen Chung