Seeing Meaning: From Pictographs to AI

Seeing Meaning: From Pictographs to AI

International Center of Photography

Courtesy of JJJJJerome Ellis.*

March 15, 2024
Seeing Meaning: From Pictographs to AI
A day-long symposium organized by Marina Chao
March 19, 2024, 11am
International Center of Photography
79 Essex St
New York, New York 10002
United States
Hours: Monday and Wednesday–Saturday 11am–7pm,
Thursday 11am–9pm

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The International Center of Photography (ICP) presents Seeing Meaning: From Pictographs to AI, a day-long convening organized by Marina Chao, with the generous support of a Curatorial Research Fellowship Grant from The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts. Register to attend on ICP’s website.

This public symposium brings together artists, writers, designers, scholars, and researchers to explore the intersections between image and language across disciplines. In light of emergent text-to-image AI tools and the training of machines to process image and language as a single unit, the conflation, simultaneity, and slippages between picture and text—as old as language itself—are particularly visible today. Looking at these relationships from a multitude of perspectives, the speakers raise urgent questions about the ethics of photojournalism in the absence of a photographer-witness and how to navigate the proliferation of misinformation in the media. In their work they weave cognition, vision, and text together in generative ways—touching on sound, speech, citation, transduction, accessibility, spirituality, empathy, and connection—and sheds light on intrinsic but elusive networks between the brain, image, and language. Looking towards the future, they imagine a more compassionate technology guided by ancient wisdom.  

Participating speakers include: Bojana Coklyat (artist), Jennifer Daniel (artist, chair of the Emoji Subcommittee for the Unicode Consortium); Shannon Ebner (artist); JJJJJerome Ellis (artist); Sarah Gephart (graphic designer), Anna Gerber (writer and creative consultant); Nicholas Muellner (artist); Haytham Nawar (artist and Associate Professor, The American University in Cairo); Yotam Ophir (Assistant Professor of Communication, University at Buffalo); Fred Ritchin (author, curator, and Dean Emeritus of the School at ICP); Finnegan Shannon (artist); Catherine Taylor (writer and editor); Maria Varkanitsa (Research Assistant Professor, Aphasia Research Laboratory, Boston University). Also featuring a performance by artist Chloë Bass.

The symposium is being offered free in person at ICP and online. Tickets do not include access to ICP’s galleries. Registration is required. This symposium is produced by the generous support of The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts. 

Morning session—11am–1:30pm 
Welcome remarks: Elisabeth Sherman, ICP Director of Exhibitions 
Introduction: Marina Chao, Curatorial Research Fellow, The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts 
Fred Ritchin: “Exiting the Photographic Universe” 
Yotam Ophir: “Seeing Is Believing? Visual Misinformation in the Post-Truth Era” 
Maria Varkanitsa: Capturing Minds: The Intersection of Image and Language in Aphasia Research 
Nicholas Muellner: “This Slideshow Has No Pictures” 
Catherine Taylor: “Image-Text-Music” 
Q&A Session  

Afternoon session—2–4pm  
JJJJJerome Ellis: “Visualizing Stuttering”
Q&A Session 
Chloë Bass: “To Quote, To Praise, To Summon”. Headsets are required to participate in this performance. Please pick up at the registration desk on the third floor. Registration to participate in this ambulatory lecture-performance is strongly encouraged. Sign up here.

Afternoon session II—4:30–6:30pm
Finnegan Shannon and Bojana Coklyat: 
“Reflecting on 5 Years of Alt Text as Poetry” 
Jennifer Daniel: “Talk Emoji To Me” 
Sarah Gephart: “Hypothetical Hack” 
Haytham Nawar: “Designing a Universal Generative Pictographic Language” 
Anna Gerber: “Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming Treating technology like it’s the divine in disguise” 

About The International Center of Photography
The International Center of Photography is the world’s leading institution dedicated to photography and visual culture. Cornell Capa founded ICP in 1974 to champion “concerned photography”—socially and politically minded images that can educate and change the world. Through exhibitions, education programs, community outreach, and public programs, ICP offers an open forum for dialogue about the power of the image.

About Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts  
In accordance with Andy Warhol’s will, the mission of The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts is the advancement of the visual arts. The foundation manages a dynamic grants program while also preserving Warhol’s legacy through creative and responsible licensing policies and extensive scholarly research for ongoing catalogue raisonné projects. To date, the foundation has given nearly $300 million in cash grants to over 1,000 arts organizations around the country and abroad and has donated 52,786 works of art to 322 institutions worldwide. 

*Image above:  JJJJJerome Ellis stutters while speaking to a Greenbrier Vine. The vine’s leaves are green with splotches of lighter green. The vine has thorns. A tree bends toward water in the blurry background. JJJJJerome’s face is also blurred.

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International Center of Photography
March 15, 2024

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