Museums are never just collection depots or exhibition venues; they are always also sites of academic research into the arts, their socio-historical aspects and impact. In addition to its curatorial activities, the Ludwig Forum Aachen constantly researches topics closely related to the Peter and Irene Ludwig Collection.

Hardly any other aspect of digitalization is as controversial as the use of artificial intelligence (AI) is today. AI has the potential to transform our current socio-cultural and political structures, reaching deep into the experience of everyday life. Together with the Hartware MedienKunstVerein (HMKV) in Dortmund and RWTH Aachen University’s Visual Computing Institute, a group of researchers from the Ludwig Forum Aachen is working to map the developments in AI, critically reflect on them, and investigate their potential applications in museum practice.

“Training the Archive” – a new research initiative funded by the Digital Culture Program of the German Federal Cultural Foundation (Kulturstiftung des Bundes) – was thus launched in early 2020. “Training the Archive” follows the research projects “Platform Aachen”, “Video Archive”, and “The Invention of the Neue Wilde”, which were successfully completed at the Ludwig Forum Aachen. Since 1996, our associated partner, the HMKV, has also been exploring the interaction of contemporary media art, society, and technology in various group and solo exhibitions as well as workshops, lectures, and conferences.
Over the next four years (2020–2023), the research project “Training the Archive” will explore the possibilities and risks of using AI to automatically structure data in order to support curatorial practice and artistic production. This will be accompanied by the research question of whether AI can learn research processes in such a way that enables it to recognize patterns, relations, and associations that would not be obvious to humans otherwise. Together with international artists and curators, we aim to develop a procedure that makes digital archives – and later the collection of the Ludwig Forum Aachen – researchable in new ways. This should also enable visitors to access the institution’s works in new, playful ways.

The results of the research project will be continuously published on the Blog of the Ludwig Forum Aachen and GitHub. A symposium with international experts is planned for the end of 2021 to promote professional exchange. An open source approach will be used in the implementation of the research project in order to make our progress directly available to any cultural institutions or members of the public who may be interested.

Dominik Bönisch (Research Project Manager)
Tel. +49 (0)241 1807-140

Training the Archive
A research project on the development of algorithms for pattern recognition in big data research at the Ludwig Forum Aachen and HMKV, Dortmund.
Project duration: 01/2020 to 12/2023
Blog: Training the Archive

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