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Artificial Intelligence is on everyone’s minds, and so is the human-induced environmental decline of our planet Earth.

Tellus Mater Installation

The Connected Environments team, as part of The Bartlett Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis (CASA), invites you to come and consider both through a new interactive installation developed in response to Gaia, by Luke Jerram, featuring an AI interface that thinks it is the spirit of the Earth itself.

This installation extends the enduring concept of Mother Earth through recent developments in natural language processing and artificial intelligence, allowing you to talk to Mother Earth. Trained on over 300 billion words, Tellus Mater uses a large language model to converse and generate answers to questions about the planet, ecology and imagined futures based on data available up to September 2021.

Tellus Mater ChatGPT Interface

Tellus Mater ChatGPT Interface

A new moving image work offers an artistic response to the AI language model. Integrating fragments of text generated through hours of conversational interaction with archival images of botanical gardens, the video loop (below) invites reflections on the generative potential and limitations of the technology as a form of collective expression and medium for dreaming up alternative future worlds.

All text input and answers are logged as part of an ongoing series of Internet of Things-related research projects developed in CASA into conversations with objects in our built and natural environment.

Tellus Mater has been in place for a month, and so far, it has produced 55, 944 words of conversation, equating to 106 pages of A4. Conversations have been wide and varied, ranging from asking Gaia what her favourite country is (she does not have a preference) through to the meaning of life (a deeply personal and individual quest – it may involve exploring one’s values, finding fulfilment in meaningful relationships and experiences, seeking knowledge and wisdom, or connecting with something greater than oneself) and onwards to why people dislike rain (its important to remember rain is essential for maintaining life on earth).

Created as an art installation, the movie runs alongside the interface, intercutting text generated through hours of conversation with Mother Earth and archival images of botanical gardens; the video loop explores different forms of world-making and imagining.

The work was created by Professor Andrew Hudson-Smith and Dr Leah Lovett of the Connected Environments Lab, UCL EAST, as part of The Bartlett Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis and was kindly supported by the UCL East Engagement team. It will be on show at Marshgate until the end of the year.