the worlds of technology, art and architecture collide in a sprawling sculpture that canopies overhead visitors at the mobile world congress in barcelona. new york-based creative studio SOFTlab collaborated with IBM to create an intricate and complex structure inspired by the iconic work of antoni gaudí, developed alongside IBM cognitive platform, watson. new technologies, like artificial intelligence and cognitive computing, aided in generating and building the undulating and active installation, with a result reminiscent of gaudi’s expressive architectural work.

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as a starting point for the design of the sculpture, IBM taught watson about the history of antoni gaudí, using visual recognition to review hundreds of images of both gaudi’s work and barcelona architecture. watson’s ‘alchemylanguage’ was trained to detect patterns and trends as it fed through a range of digital information, including documents about gaudi, song lyrics, and historical articles. in the process, watson discovered unusual details that helped shape SOFTlab’s creative vision — for example, the designers didn’t initially associate crabs and spiders with gaudi, but watson surfaced these unexpected results. using these insights, SOFTlab determined the mediums and design elements that helped inform the sculpture’s framework and materiality. 

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in the context of the mobile world congress, the sculpture helps visitors envisage how these technologies can be used to invent and explore new frontiers. additionally, the piece literally captures the pulse of the event, using watson’s ‘tone analyzer’ to extract sentiment from tweets and moving in real-time by shifting in height across its three main sections.

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SOFTlab IBM

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