“Umwelten: Shifting agencies among the human, the non-human, and a machine learning algorithm” presented by Jain


Session Title:

  • Algorithms, Control and Agencies

Presentation Title:

  • Umwelten: Shifting agencies among the human, the non-human, and a machine learning algorithm




  • This work is a research-creation project that invites a human, a non-human (a touch-me-not plant), and a machine-learning (ML) algorithm to question and re-formulate the relationship among themselves using the concept of ‘umwelt’ given by the German biologist Jacob Johann Von Uexküll. Through this project, the human and the non-human are brought in the same physical space (with different umwelts) to interact with one another and an ML algorithm, each having an agency to change others’ environment and hence, their umwelts. While the human changes the typography on the screen (using a text writing platform developed as a part of this project) through the typing speed and their choice of letters, both the plant and the (computer vision) machine learning algorithm alter this typography dynamically depending on the images clicked by a camera pointing to the plant. Such interactions manifested on the screen encapsulate a space where a non-linear and confusing typography symbolizes the overlapping, collision, and entanglement of the umwelts of these organisms – depicting the shifting of agencies among the human, the non-human and the machine learning algorithm over time.