Ai weiwei poses 81 questions to artificial intelligence in "ai vs AI" london exhibition

Designboom_ Between January 11 and March 31, 2024, Ai Weiwei poses 81 questions to artificial intelligence, for his latest project dubbed Ai vs AI. Marking the very first time that the artist has used AI for his art, the project spans 81 days, mirroring the duration of Ai Weiwei’s confinement in a Chinese prison back in 2011. Featuring a spectrum of philosophical, political, and scientific fields, each question contemplates humanity’s role in an ever-evolving world amidst global crises and advancing technologies. ‘This is not about freedom of speech. This is about freedom of questions,’ says Ai Weiwei. ‘Everybody has the right to ask questions.’

These seemingly unanswerable questions are broadcasted daily by the art and culture platform CIRCA, illuminating London’s Piccadilly Lights and other global locations, including Seoul, Berlin, and Milan. Ai Weiwei aims to share his insights into these questions, while both his responses and the AI’s answers are presented through CIRCA’s website and social media channels.

Over the course of 81 days, the artist poses questions directed at both artificial intelligence and the broader public. Presented every evening at 20:24 local time on Piccadilly Lights, the questions vary from philosophical and scientific to humorous and absurd.

The project draws inspiration from Tiānwèn (天問, translated as ‘The Heavenly Questions’ or ‘Questions to Heaven’), a collection of 172 queries to the gods inscribed on a temple’s walls 2,300 years ago by the legendary poet Qu Yuan. At the same time, it draws a parallel to Ai Weiwei’s 81-day imprisonment by the Chinese Communist Party. During his time in prison, Ai Weiwei was subjected to continuous interrogation by an authority that wielded its absolute power through mass manipulation of information: an unequal right to ask questions and have them answered.