Mosaic Virus 24 October - 11 November 2018

anna ridler-Artboard 2-100

Mosaic Virus 2018, Video

Drawing historical parallels from “tulip-mania” that swept across the Netherlands / Europe in the 1630s to the speculation currently ongoing around crypto-currencies, this video work is generated by an artificial intelligence (AI). It shows a tulip blooming, an updated version of a Dutch still life for the 21st century. The appearance of the tulip is controlled by bitcoin price.

Tulips growing in popularity were considered a luxury item in the 1630s, reaching extraordinarily high prices on a type of formal futures market where contracts to buy bulbs at the end of the season were bought and sold. “Tulip-mania” is generally considered the first recorded speculative bubble which dramatically collapsed in February 1637.

“Mosaic” is the name of the virus that causes the stripes in a petal which increased their desirability and helped cause the speculative prices during the time. In this piece, the stripes depend on the value of bitcoin, changing over time to show how the market around crypto-currencies fluctuates.

In the exhibition Ridler will also show:

Myriad (Tulips) 2018, Data set

This piece is the training set – the information given to the neural network from which it learns the characteristics and features of tulips – that was used to create the work, Mosaic Virus. Ten thousand, or a myriad, of photos of tulips were taken by the artist over the course of tulip season in the Netherlands and each has been categorised by hand, revealing the human aspect that sits behind machine learning.

For machine learning to perform reliably it requires a large quantity of data (usually several thousand instances) on one specific category. These data sets need to be created and annotated mostly manually, which makes the data sets a highly sought after asset in today’s economy.

About the artist:

I am an artist and researcher whose practice brings together technology, literature and drawing to create both art and critical writing.  I am very interested in working with abstract collections of information or data, particularly self-generated data sets, to create new and unusual narratives in a variety of mediums, and how new technologies, such as machine learning, can be used to translate them clearly to an audience.  I work heavily with technology at both the front and back end of projects (what is exhibited as well as the research that goes into the piece). My intention is to make work that is not about technology for its own sake, but rather uses these technologies as a tool to talk about other things – memory, love, decay –  or to augment or change the story in a way in that otherwise would not happen. I am interested in the connections and spaces between the tangible and intangible world – for example, the connections between race and algorithms or love and emails.  I am currently working with and researching the creative potential of machine learning, and how it relates to drawing and painting.

This project is supported through an EMAP/EMARE artists’ residency at IMPAKT Center for Media Culture via funding from Creative Europe and with generous support from Arts Council England.


This item is part of

Exhibition: Algorithmic Superstructures

Other items in this program