In the midst of the Mayan Jungle in Mexico, French artist Antoine Bertin is set to develop an AI-integrated installation The Bat Cloud that serves as a bat habitat and a public listening space for exploring bat language through artificial intelligence. The installation was the winning submission to an open-call from AZULIK and interdisciplinary arts center SFER IK, that prompted artists to create art exploring biodiversity, ancestral knowledge, and nature through the use of artificial intelligence. SFER IK Museion, announced Bertin as the recipient of the inaugural SFER IK artist award during Miami Art Week. As winner of the open-call, Bertin will be awarded $100,000 and a two-month residency at AZULIK’s campus in Uh May.
“The Bat Cloud exempliﬁes the transformative power of art to connect humanity to the natural world and inspire deeper understanding of our place within it,” the award stated. The installation will be situated on a site at SFER IK’s forthcoming open-air museum, located near Tulum, Mexico. It will use local and sustainable materials to establish harmony between the artwork and the jungle surroundings.
It will comprise of eight lanky structures, topped by a single circle, designed for bats to fly around. Beyond a bat habitat the piece will serve as research base where humans can gather at a water basin, situated at the base of the poles, to listen in on the conversations of other species.
In line with the design competition criteria, Bertin integrated AI into the artwork. The artist has partnered with behavioral ecologist Dr. Mirjam Knörnschild to decode the sounds, gathered by recording equipment in the installation, using machine learning. Once completed, the installation will explore non-human languages, allowing for research into the potential of interspecies communication.
“The final artwork will allow the public to immerse itself in the intimate conversation of another species,” Bertin said, “I hope that it’s a starting point for raising awareness and engaging citizens on the subject of biodiversity.”
SFER IK awarded second prize to Rana Haddad and Pascal Hachem from Lebanon for their project examining the coexistence of ancestral tradition and technology. Third place was given to Mika Revell, Alex Finnemore, and Graeme Revell for A Symphony of Circuit and Soil. SFER IK gave a special recognition award amounting $20,000 to Brazilian artists Leandro Lima and Mari Nage. The artists also received a thirty-day residency at the AZULIK Uh May facilities for their project Siren, which brings back the calls of extinct bird species through AI.
The award winners were selected by a jury of international art world leaders including Roth, founder and CEO of AZULIK; and Marcello Dantas Creative Director of SFER IK. Submissions were judged on their use of AI, sensitivity toward the themes, and ease of installation on SFER IK’s grounds.