Sorting Song thumbnail 1
Sorting Song thumbnail 2
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images
Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
Photography Centre, Room 99, The Digital Gallery

Sorting Song

Digital Film
2021
Artist/Maker
Place of origin

How do we know when a chair is a chair, or when it’s a stool instead? Machines read the information from our world differently due to the assumptions embedded deeply into their software, leading to the potential for misreading and mistakes, a reality that we may live alongside as robots start to cohabit with humans. Sorting Song (2021) by Swiss designer and researcher Simone C Niquille shows where our designed world has become machine readable, and as a result, removed the boundaries and nuances that is provided by human context.

Throughout this computer-generated film, a series of objects sourced from the SceneNet RGB-D indoor training dataset are featured, originally compiled for use by the Dyson Robotics Lab at Imperial College London in 2017 – a large-scale library of 3D models, floor plans and objects, compiled to develop machine vision for future domestic robots. A conversation between two young voices naively questions the nature of things and their distinctions, playing on the form of the nursery rhyme in which children learn to name objects and tell them apart. When is a vase a bowl? Is a toilet a chair? Sorting Song reveals how a dataset encodes our digital assumptions; how does this simplify or decontextualise our material culture?

This object joins the museum’s research to explore practitioners working with computer generated images and design, such as geist.xyz by ZEITGUISED (CD.61-2021), and also sits alongside the museum’s growing collection of product design and domestic automation such as the Amazon Echo (CD.11:1 to 8-2020). It also contributes to the V&A’s interest and research in computer graphics history, starting with the Digital Art and Patric Prince collection, such as Ben Laposky (E.957-2008), William Fetter (CIRC.773-1969), Paul Brown (E.171-2010), David Em (E.952-2008), Darcy Gerbarg (E.1035-2008) and Yoichuri Kawaguchi (E.1050-2008).

The artist:

Simone C Niquille (b.1987) is a Swiss designer and researcher based in Amsterdam. Her practice Technoflesh investigates the representation of identity and the presentation of the body within networked digital spaces. She holds a BFA in Graphic Design from Rhode Island School of Design and an MA in Visual Strategies from the Sandberg Instituut, Amsterdam. At the time of acquisition, she was Chief Information Officer at Design Academy Eindhoven.

Her work has been exhibited most recently at HeK-Haus der Elektronischen Künste (2020), Fotomuseum Winterthur (2019), La Gaite Lyrique (2019), Istanbul Biennial (2018), ZKM Karlsruhe (2017). In 2018 Niquille was commissioned contributor to the Dutch Pavilion at the 16th Venice Architecture Biennale with the work Safety Measures on the history and future of ergonomic software and standardised human measurements.

Object details

Categories
Object type
TitleSorting Song (assigned by artist)
Materials and techniques
Computer-generated film (Blender).
Brief description
Sorting Song (2021), a computer generated film by Simone C Niquille.
Physical description
A computer-generated film, made using computer graphics software Blender.
Dimensions
    Total film length - 6m 50s length.
    Credit line
    Acquired with Art Fund support.
    Summary
    How do we know when a chair is a chair, or when it’s a stool instead? Machines read the information from our world differently due to the assumptions embedded deeply into their software, leading to the potential for misreading and mistakes, a reality that we may live alongside as robots start to cohabit with humans. Sorting Song (2021) by Swiss designer and researcher Simone C Niquille shows where our designed world has become machine readable, and as a result, removed the boundaries and nuances that is provided by human context.

    Throughout this computer-generated film, a series of objects sourced from the SceneNet RGB-D indoor training dataset are featured, originally compiled for use by the Dyson Robotics Lab at Imperial College London in 2017 – a large-scale library of 3D models, floor plans and objects, compiled to develop machine vision for future domestic robots. A conversation between two young voices naively questions the nature of things and their distinctions, playing on the form of the nursery rhyme in which children learn to name objects and tell them apart. When is a vase a bowl? Is a toilet a chair? Sorting Song reveals how a dataset encodes our digital assumptions; how does this simplify or decontextualise our material culture?

    This object joins the museum’s research to explore practitioners working with computer generated images and design, such as geist.xyz by ZEITGUISED (CD.61-2021), and also sits alongside the museum’s growing collection of product design and domestic automation such as the Amazon Echo (CD.11:1 to 8-2020). It also contributes to the V&A’s interest and research in computer graphics history, starting with the Digital Art and Patric Prince collection, such as Ben Laposky (E.957-2008), William Fetter (CIRC.773-1969), Paul Brown (E.171-2010), David Em (E.952-2008), Darcy Gerbarg (E.1035-2008) and Yoichuri Kawaguchi (E.1050-2008).

    The artist:

    Simone C Niquille (b.1987) is a Swiss designer and researcher based in Amsterdam. Her practice Technoflesh investigates the representation of identity and the presentation of the body within networked digital spaces. She holds a BFA in Graphic Design from Rhode Island School of Design and an MA in Visual Strategies from the Sandberg Instituut, Amsterdam. At the time of acquisition, she was Chief Information Officer at Design Academy Eindhoven.

    Her work has been exhibited most recently at HeK-Haus der Elektronischen Künste (2020), Fotomuseum Winterthur (2019), La Gaite Lyrique (2019), Istanbul Biennial (2018), ZKM Karlsruhe (2017). In 2018 Niquille was commissioned contributor to the Dutch Pavilion at the 16th Venice Architecture Biennale with the work Safety Measures on the history and future of ergonomic software and standardised human measurements.

    Collection
    Accession number
    CD.2-2023

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    Record createdOctober 3, 2022
    Record URL
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