• The Question of Intelligence - AI and the Future of Humanity


    February 07, 2020 - April 08, 2020

    Opening reception: Thursday, February 6, 6:00-8:00 p.m.

    Parsons School of Design/The New School (Parsons/TNS) is actively monitoring the incidence of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) in our region. Parsons/TNS is following guidance from local health departments and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) regarding large gatherings, including CDC recommendations on preventing the spread of COVID-19.

    As of Friday, March 13 our galleries are closed and all upcoming public programs and events are cancelled in order to protect the health of potential visitors, students, faculty, and staff.  

    A PDF catalogue is available hereQuestion of Intelligence catalogue (Adobe PDF)

    Over the past years artificial intelligence has moved to the center of technology discussions due to the rapidly increasing role of 'machine learning' in data processing and decision making for the purposes of commerce, labor, surveillance, and entertainment, among other areas. 

    The Question of Intelligence features works in a range of media by more than a dozen artists, exploring what constitutes intelligence and if and how it can be constructed by algorithms and machines. The exhibition gives a conceptual overview of different ways in which digital art has critically engaged with developments in artificial intelligence, and investigates the social and cultural transformations generated by AI. 

    Presenting a body of works that address the effects of the automation of our senses, The Question of Intelligence investigates vision as it is reflected in image recognition; speech and voice in relation to issues of sentience and personality, as well as the construction of knowledge. Some featured artists explore how AI learns to see and classifies images, exposing bias and contextual misunderstandings. Another group of artworks engages with the impact of automation on creativity and labor, which has generated both utopian and dystopian predictions. AI that takes creative labor to new forms of expression has become a trendy topic, while the replacement of human labor through AI already has serious socio-political consequences. 

    Together the works in the exhibition examine and juxtapose the ability of humans and machines to acquire and apply skills and knowledge, raising questions of what the encoding of 'intelligence' means for the state of being human.

    Featured artists: Memo Akten; Tega Brain; Baoyang Chen, Zhije Qiu, Ruixue Liu, Xiaoyu Guo, Yan Dai, Meng Chen, and Xiadong He from the Central Academy of Fine Arts (Beijing, China); Harold Cohen; Stephanie Dinkins; Mary Flanagan; Ken Goldberg and the AlphaGarden Collective (University of California at Berkeley); Lynn Hershman Leeson; LarbitsSisters; Mimi Onuoha; David Rokeby; Brett Wallace; and Lior Zalmanson.

    Curated by Christiane Paul and organized by the Sheila C. Johnson Design Center.

    Related public programs:

    All tours take place in the Kellen Gallery, 2 West 13th Street, ground floor.

    Friday, February 7, 6:30-8:00 p.m.
    Tour with the curator and artists Mary Flanagan, Ken Goldberg, LarbitsSisters, David Rokeby, and Lior Zalmanson

    Thursday, February 27, 6:30-8:00 p.m.
    Tour with the curator and artists Stephanie Dinkins, Lynn Hershman Leeson, and Mimi Onuoha. 

    CANCELLED - Thursday, April 2, 6:30-8:00 p.m.
    Tour with the curator and artists Tega Brain and Brett Wallace. 

    Thursday, April 16, 2020 (recording of livestream talk)
    Online: Art & AI
    Christiane Paul ft. Claudia Schmuckli
    Part of the History and Theory of New Media Lecture Series, Berkeley Center for New Media

    Exhibition curator Christiane Paul discusses The Question of Intelligence and its relationship to robo-exoticism, with a response from Curator-in-Charge of Contemporary Art and Programming at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, Claudia Schmuckli.


    Discussing "The Question of Intelligence" with Curator Christiane Paul by Marie Chatel, Digicult, April 15, 2020.

    “The Question of Intelligence — AI and the Future of Humanity” Interview with Curator Christiane Paul by Tansy Xiao, Arte Fuse, May 27, 2020. This interview is also available in Chinese on, originally published June 24, 2020