The aim of this year’s STATE festival was to explore emotions from various points of view. Researchers, artists, makers and the public were invited to join the discussion about this very personal topic. The program did not only include many talks, performances and movie screenings at the two days of the festival, but offered a lot more to see and experience throughout the week around the festival.
Everything started with the night of artificial creativity on Friday, 28th of October in the amazing building of the Berlin-Brandenburgische Akademie der Wissenschaften. It included the screening of a movie written entirely by an AI (it was… let’s say extraordinary), a keynote lecture by Margaret Boden who is research professor of cognitive science, the presentation of some interesting projects which make use of AI techniques in creative tasks and last but not least the performance of Gamut Inc which is an ensemble using computer-driven mechanical music-machines. The keynote lecture was very interesting and gave me new insights on how creativity could be defined. Furthermore, the movie screening and the artificial creativity projects were fascinating to see. I did not really like the music performance at the end, but overall it was a good event.
The next activity being part of the festival I attended was the night at the museum – the warm up event the evening before the core festival started. It took place at the Museum of Natural History and offered a good program, but unfortunately things weren’t as good as I expected. The main hall of the museum was crowded and unfortunately a lot of people decided to have a chat during the lecture about emotions in animals, so it was hard to understand the keynote speaker. It was so noisy, that I sadly had to leave the event after the keynote with a headache. The rest of the program promised guided night tours through the museum, an art project and a scientific scavenger hunt. I hope it was a good experience for those people who joined these activities as I was unfortunately not able to stay any longer.
And finally the two days of the main event came. I was especially interested in the conference as some speakers really are well known in their fields. In overall six panels which focused different areas of emotion research from what is an emotion up to AI. Unfortunately the talk of every speaker was quite short in time (20 to 30 minutes) and therefore they were not able to dive deeper into the topic. Thus I did not get to know much more than I knew before from university classes in psychology and AI. The first day the conference floor was quite cold as well, so the conference did not convince me that much. The exhibition was nice to visit, but it did not take much time to see everything. As I expected the conference to be most interesting for me, I did not sign up for any of the workshops. All told, I did not stay long each festival day as I was not willing to wait until an interesting performance is happening. But to be fair: I was probably not the right audience for the festival. The combination of the different areas made it a melting pot of information and the different areas were covered at their basics – which I already knew. I guess that the festival was a great experience for people not so much involved into the topic despite some minor drawbacks (noise level, room temperature).
The talks of the conference are available on YouTube, so if you want to get a glimpse of emotion research, check out STATE festival’s channel.