Montréal’s public art program attracts people to specific locations throughout the town, encouraging visitors to linger. This helps stimulate the economy, as people often also visit nearby retailers.

Interactive artworks in Montréal’s public spaces range from audiovisual sound sculptures and light installations to engaging and playful experiences. But while these installations are entertaining, there is usually a certain uniformity across these different works.

The rise of social media has encouraged people to search for Instagrammable experiences and TikTok-worthy content. As a result, many public art installations in Montréal have been designed with social media visuals in mind.

Artificial creativity

Artificial intelligence (AI) is increasingly incorporated into every aspect of our lives, including education, business, health, transportation and entertainment.

The art realm also advantages from what AI has to supply. Montréal has featured AI-powered artworks and continues to support arts and innovation. For instance, by digital art studio Iregular uses a facial recognition algorithm that collects images of tourists to create a constantly evolving portrait.

Another Iregular work, , uses computer vision and AI technologies to invest on the human impact on the planet. Their goal is to create awareness with 4 installations which are experienced in massive public displays.

Opportunities and dangers

Public spaces may also help urban residents engage with the community, make social connections and have exciting experiences. Digital technologies, when incorporated into the general public realm, have the potential to reshape the urban experience.

Creating interactions in public space turns the urban space right into a playful and social venue that might attract residents of all ages. However, there are challenges when designing interactive urban installations. These include the potential that some people may find installations with an audio component disturbing, installations with lights could also be less visible in the course of the day and audience safety have to be managed.

Another critical challenge is accessibility. Urban spaces should incorporate universal design principles to support the event of accessible and inclusive public spaces.

Including art in public spaces also raises the query of who the decision-makers and stakeholders are. Often, a government agency commissions local artists for specifically tailored artworks, but some argue for a more democratic approach. Other conflicts could occur, corresponding to whether public art is the suitable tool to reconstruct public spaces or whether the general public should contribute to the artworks.

Interactive installations can increase public engagement and create community dialogues. Diverse AI technologies, corresponding to machine learning and generative AI, can provide dynamic experiences in public spaces.

AI could support the event of urban communities by way of not only arts but additionally mobility, education and health care. For instance, AI can directly obtain data from the encompassing environment to create a real-time experience corresponding to intelligent transportation systems, public interactions powered by augmented reality and inclusive, protected and environmentally adaptive structures.

This may even foster learning in the general public sphere. The rapidly increasing hype around AI technologies generates curiosity and attracts audiences. Incorporating interactive installations that supply entertaining, educative and exciting experiences could contribute to more equitable and sustainable cities.

On the opposite hand, adopting AI technologies in the general public realm raises issues surrounding consent and privacy and the role of algorithms in society.

Interactive experiences

Even though we only just began to see AI artworks in the general public realm, artists and designers are already using AI’s many features, corresponding to data generation and image processing to create unique works. Specifically, in interactive works, AI enhances the experience by creating stimulating engagements with the audience.

Japanese interaction designer Tomo Kihara and U.K.-based design studio Playfool collaborated on . This multimedia installation features a digital game that prints the outcomes.

exemplifies a participatory engagement where players digitally interact with one another and the AI algorithm. The game requires players to explain randomly given words by drawing on a screen. The goal is to attract the figures in a way that other human players can guess, while making them incomprehensible to the AI algorithm.

requires players to attract images on a tablet with the aim of deceiving an AI.
(S. Maruyama), Author provided

Another example of interactive AI work is by French artist Louk Amidou, which uses generative AI to reply to gestures.

It exhibits a person engagement mode, allowing visitors to play with the digital forms. uses AI, interaction design, digital art and electronic music to provide a multi-sensory experience.

a photo showing a human hand reaching for a computer-generated image
A screenshot from , an interactive installation by French artist Louk Amidou.
(L. Amidou), Author provided

These two examples create unique and fascinating interactive experiences by involving the audience within the creation process.

Playful cities

Artists and public space programmers can take certain actions to create ethically and morally responsible machine learning practices. Computer scientists are developing human-centred approaches to privacy for smart applications, risk assessment tools, data-driven approaches for smart cities and more.

It wouldn’t hurt if interactive urban installations used AI to change into more playful, entertaining and even educational. It would reshape public spaces and switch them into engaging activities for locals and tourists. AI actually guarantees interesting features for improving these installations, if only being designed responsibly.

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