Raycaster (Ziv Schneider and ~shirin anlen), Dish Next to Adult, 2018. Generative Machine Learning model projected onto a 3% scan in webGL, melamine plates. Courtesy of the artists. Installed in the the Queens Museum’s World’s Fair Visible Storage.
Raycaster platesofthe.world
Our work for Queens International examines commemorative souvenirs from the 1939 and 1964 New York World's Fairs, which took place in the park where the museum stands today. The Fairs aimed to represent the whole world in one physical space through its nation states and, in 1964, also its corporations.

When we read about the Fairs online, we came across different websites dedicated to it, in particular the 1964 version—from forums of enthusiasts of the Fair itself to ones dedicated to the memorabilia. We were fascinated by how significant it appeared to be for different groups of people—those who remember it, collect memorabilia from it, or both. We became interested in the way these memories are retold and continue to evolve. We were especially drawn to the plates because their everyday use is voided when they become memorabilia.
In your project, you juxtapose national identity with contemporary computing. In your project, you juxtapose national identity with contemporary computing. Both World's Fairs were dedicated to visions of the future. Our use of machine learning to generate new memorabilia comes from a desire to uncover how this memorabilia was designed and to find alternative ways of engaging with the collection. Machine learning has been positioned as the future, a technology that could be one of the most influential on mankind. We hope this experiment will unravel something about the process in which humans collect memories.

Our piece uses machine learning models trained on 3D scans of the collectible plates from the Queens Museum's World's Fair collection. We ran these images through an image-to-text model that extracts keywords from each plate type, keywords that later were generated to sentences. These sentences were fed into a generative model to create images which could be embedded into new souvenirs. This model was trained on a dataset consisting of millions of images, creating a contemporary index of reality as computers see it. We used a sentence as instructions for generating a design for a new collectible item—in this case, a plate.
How do you think constructed identity and memory come together? Or how do constructed histories impact individual lives? Memories shape identity. In this project, we found it interesting to understand how memories are being structured by symbols of iconic places and objects, and the importance of linking an abstract memory to a concrete physical place. How do you think constructed identity and memory come together? Or how do constructed histories impact individual lives?
Our artwork is often motivated by a desire to visualize and challenge the hidden structures that comprise the back-end of technologies we use on a daily basis. We often work with volumetric (3D) capture methods to construct virtual worlds based in history. We apply different technologies and offer new ways in which the past and the present can speak to each other.
Ziv Schneider (b. 1984, Hedera, Israel) earned a M.P.S from New York University (2015), a BA from Shenkar College of Engineering, Design, and Art (2010) and is a 2017 NYFA artist fellow in Digital/ Electronic arts. She has exhibited her work internationally, including a solo or group shows at the Gottesman Libraries, New York (2018); IDFA Doc Lab, Netherlands (2017); Sotheby's, New York (2017); and Jerusalem Design Week, Israel (2017). She lives in Jackson Heights, Queens.

~shirin anlen (b.1985, Tel Aviv, Israel) earned an MFA from Tel Aviv University (2017), a degree from Hamidrasha School of Art, Beit Berl College (2014) and a BSW from Ben Gurion University (2010). anlen is a research fellow at MIT Open Documentary Lab (2017-2018). Her work has been exhibited worldwide in shows including the SIGGRAPH, LA (2017); Festival de Cannes, France (2017); IDFA DocLab, Netherland (2016); and House of Elektronic, Switzerland (2015).

anlen and Schneider work together as Raycaster, an art and design studio working with emerging technologies. They are currently incubated on the museum technology track at NEW INC with support from Knight Foundation (2017-2018).
Mixing Tech-Infiltrated Website