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Andrius Arutiunian The Irresistible Powers of Silent Talking 2021 Installation view at FACT Courtesy of the artist Image by Rob Battersby 14

The Irresistible Powers of Silent Talking (2021)

Can AI catch a lie? How does it decide what truth looks and sounds like? iBorderCtrl is a virtual border agent: an algorithm developed to scan the facial micro-expressions of migrants entering the EU. After a person has been interviewed by a virtual avatar, iBorderCtrl determines how honest their replies are, using an undisclosed set of criteria. Essentially, it makes decisions based on the algorithm’s fixed rules around truth and deceit.

The Irresistible Powers of Silent Talking investigates these automated deception recognition systems, and their worrying use in border surveillance. In this artwork, a system is recreated in a virtual environment, and put under its own duress - brought to life through a voiceless, remodelled iBorderCtrl avatar. A multi-channel sound work generated by an algorithm responds to the micro-expressions of the avatar, mapping its deviations from the truth through responsive changes in the sound.

Commissioned by FACT as part of the European Media Art Platform (EMAP) / European Media Art Residency Exchange (EMARE). The European Media Arts Platform at FACT is supported by the Creative Europe Culture Programme of the European Union.