“Auspicis” by Estampa

  • ©2019, , Auspicis



Artist(s) and People Involved:

    Exhibiting Artist Collective(s):



Creation Year:



    LED screen and ADS-B receiver


    125 x 27 x 10 cm

Artist Statement:

    In ancient Rome, there was a ceremony where predictions were made observing the flight of birds. These predictions were called auspices. Today, prediction is in the core of technical and scientific discourse: from big data to the growing interest in machine learning techniques. Are these current techniques, consulted by companies and governments, the embodiment of the ancient auguries?

    This question is the seed of the installation Auspices. A contemporary oracle that replaces birdwatching with aircraft monitoring. An ADS-B device captures radio frequency signals from aircrafts and matches them with commercial aviation data. With every detection of an out-of-the-ordinary flight (private jets, luxury or military charter flights), the production of an omen is launched – an enigmatic message that appears on the LED screen. These are messages written by a machine -a neural network for text generation-, trained with a dataset of esoteric literature and macroeconomics prediction reports. As in the oracles of ancient times, the true art of these omens lies in their interpretation.

    By linking archaic divination arts with the predictive technologies of the present, Auspices asks for a critical reflection on the mythologies of prediction.

    Auspices funded by the art call UNZIP. The project uses generative neural nets in order to produce texts for a technological oracle, which launches predictions from real-time air traffic monitoring.