Karel Klein

Monday April 3, 2023 , 12:30 to 2 p.m.
In her lecture "Sing, Goddess,” Klein draws on older models of creativity to position AI as an external agent of creativity, a mechanized Muse perhaps.
Two similar images of a gnarled item: on the left, more natural; on the right, metal.

"Sing, Goddess": These two words begin The Iliad—that ancient, epic poem famously attributed to the Greek poet Homer. But, with these two words, Homer invokes the assistance of the Muses to aid in the creation of his art. This invocation points to the enduring idea that humans require something unknown from the outside for inspiration in order to make great works of music, painting, literature, and architecture.

This lecture presents various ways in which artificial intelligence (AI) imaging technologies influence and augment human perception and imagination. In contrast to contemporary discourses of automation and technological progress, this lecture draws on older models of creativity to position AI as an external agent of creativity, a mechanized Muse perhaps.

Karel Klein is an architect and educator who has been working with various AI technologies since 2016. Her ongoing project is an investigation into crossbred image-objects produced using atypically trained GANs (generative adversarial networks) and their capacity for contemporary myth-making in architecture. In the same way that imaginative vocabulary and metaphoric style were primary, if literary instruments for the invention of new mythologies for the Surrealists, the strange and idiosyncratic qualities of images produced using AI are similarly a kind of matter metaphor-ed and made visible by the cyborg imagination. With these tools, Karel is interested in the re-enchantment of the architectural body—one that both foments and succumbs to sensual perceptions, and one that discovers new and unexpected relations to the world beyond the realm of the rational.

Her work in this realm has been exhibited at the 2021 Venice Biennale; the FRAC Institute, Orleans, France; Des Lee Gallery, St. Louis; and SCI-Arc Gallery, Los Angeles. Recent essays in pursuit of this work include “Verto Pellis” in Offramp, issue 17; “Machines are Braver than Art” in “Rendering Fiction,” Paprika!, volume 7, issue 8; and “Machines À Rechercher,” in Log 55, summer 2022. Karel teaches currently at Washington University, University of Pennsylvania, UCLA, and the Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc).

This lecture is supported by the Karl Kamrath Lectureship in Architecture.

Karel Klein Headshot