1 June 2021
Art-AI Festival continues to bring Leicester to life with a series of events and installations across the city centre.
One of the festival’s key installations is Elvis by Libby Heaney, which following a month at Highcross Leicester is now in place at the Haymarket Shopping Centre. This two-channel video portrait of the artist as Elvis and Elvis as the artist uses a machine learning technique known as a deepfake face swap, and invites the audience into a reimagined history where the King of Rock and Roll was actually a womxn.
Audience members come to the piece with the assumption that both screens are showing the original Elvis, but then notice the differences due to the deepfakes. The piece highlights the constructed nature of gender, particularly in relation to recent digital technologies. The work questions the notion of male author genius and also talks about our desire and consumption around the cult of celebrity.
Libby Heaney’s past projects exhibit humour and surrealism to tackle the capitalist appropriation of technology, and she uses tools like machine learning and quantum computing to undo biases and forge new expressions of collective identity and belonging with each other and the world.
Tony Spencer, Centre Manager, Haymarket Shopping Centre, commented, “We are excited to be a part of this year’s Art-AI Festival as they bring art and technology to life in the heart of Leicester. We are delighted to showcase Libby Heaney’s Elvis at Haymarket Shopping Centre as a treat for our regular shoppers but to also attract visitors from further afield who’d enjoy interacting with the innovative piece”
Libby will also be presenting an online artist talk on 2 June, as she joins Luba Elliott for an overview of the state of the art in Creative AI. Libby will discuss her work with AI and the creative challenges she faces as an artist working with technologies. You can register for the event online.
Libby Heaney commented, “Throughout my work I utilise moving image, performances and participatory and interactive experiences that span quantum computing, virtual reality, AI and installation. The Elvis installation is an example of all of these and offers a unique opportunity to challenge your perceived reality of one of music’s biggest stars. The Art-AI Festival is a fantastic event and unique in its offering to a UK audience.”
Since launching, the Art-AI Festival has been encouraging the public to get out and explore Leicester with the Hello Lamp Post trail. The perfect excuse to explore the city centre, the installation allows you to text landmarks in the city, such as King Richard III statue or the War Memorial and discover more about their history. Sponsored by BID Leicester there is also the opportunity to win a £50 Leicester Gift Card each month by scanning in at the landmarks via the LoyalFree app.
Deputy city mayor Cllr Piara Singh Clair said: “The city council is very pleased to support the third annual Art AI Festival, and proud to sponsor the interactive Hello Lamp Post walking trail.
“The installation uses artificial intelligence to allow people to engage in text conversation with some of Leicester’s most iconic landmarks, including the Alice Hawkins statue in the city centre and the Arch of Remembrance in Victoria Park.
“It’s an innovative concept and one that I hope people will enjoy as they explore the city and discover all 16 landmarks in the trail.”
The Festival is a partnership between the Institute of Creative Technologies at De Montfort University, Phoenix, Leicester City Council, Highcross and independent creative AI curator Luba Elliott with additional support from Arts Council England, and this year runs over an extended period from May to October.