10. Critically Extant at Midnight Moment in Times Square

Sofia Crespo Critically Extent at Midnight Moment
Photos by Michael Hull. Courtesy of Times Square Arts. 

During the month of May, Times Square Arts will present Sofia Crespo’s Critically Extant as part of the Midnight Moment series. Presented in collaboration with Meta Open Arts and Meta Al Research, Critically Extant explores the limits of our knowledge about the natural world by testing the openly available data that resides on digital platforms. After training artificial intelligence algorithms using millions of open-source images of nature—including ten thousand animal and plant species—these models were utilized to generate visual representations of critically endangered species that typically receive little media coverage.

In doing so, Critically Extant works to bring awareness to the impending extinction of some of the Earth’s most vital creatures. Moreover, as a result of missing or skewed data, many of the AI-generated creatures bear little resemblance to their real-life counterparts, adding an element of mystery and intrigue to the video. At the same time, just as Critically Extant acknowledges the gaps in our understanding, it also explores how digital feedback loops can be harnessed to produce positive outcomes in the natural world. To do so, alongside the video, Crespo has also created a series of AR filters inspired by critically-endangered animal and plant species native to New York state—helping to frame these species in the context of everyday life. 

“In the same way we can’t imagine a color we’ve never seen before, a neural network can’t image something from data it didn’t receive. The creatures in this exhibition are a reflection of our collective knowledge of the natural world, which is very limited,” Crespo said.