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JAN BOT

Bram Loogman and Pablo Núñez Palma

Jan Bot is a computer program that works day and night creating experimental films that match early twentieth century footage with current trending events. This is EYE Filmmuseum’s first robot employee. How can you breathe new life into an old film collection? Film archives devote endless amounts of time and energy to the preservation of old films. But this work has little significance if these treasures remain hidden from the audience. Seeking a plausible solution to this problem, Eye Filmmuseum collaborated with filmmakers Bram Loogman and Pablo Núñez Palma to envision the future of film preservation. The result: Jan Bot.

Jan Bot is a computer program designed to generate short experimental films based on two ingredients: Eye’s archival film footage, and today’s trending topics. On its website, www.jan.bot, Jan Bot streams an average of ten 30 seconds films per day, which amounts to a total of more than seven thousand pieces to date. Each day Jan Bot chooses one of these videos to post on social media. To produce this huge amount of original work, Jan Bot makes use of artificial intelligence services found by its creators on the web. “Many big companies, like Google and IBM, are offering tools for image recognition and language analysis, some of them even for free. So we took a bunch of them and glued them together to make films”, says Loogman, one of the minds behind Jan Bot. The results are unexpectedly unique. If at first glance Jan Bot’s films seem to combine images and text in a random fashion, on a second reading however, its choices for footage and intertitles reveal a systematic if unusual sense-making logic.


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