We?ve all heard stories about the robot uprising. From SkyNet in?Terminator?to Hal 9000 in?2001: A Space Odyssey, there seem to be endless tales of the dangers of artificial intelligence and the consequences for humanity that may result. Even so, we still keep pushing the boundaries of science in an effort to bring science fiction to life.
But, in The Computer Accent, the world of science treads into the world of the arts. And the results are fascinating.
Directed by Riel Roch-Decter and Sebastian Pardo, the new documentary The Computer Accent follows pop group Yacht as they entrust their entire creative process to artificial intelligence in order to make their next album. Working with leading AI researchers, Yacht uses state-of-the-art technology to allow their digital artist to create an entire project, from music and lyric to artwork. However, what is the role of the artist in a world where their work can be manufactured by machine?
Wisely, Roch-Decter and Pardo keep the keep the focus on the band themselves, as they wrestle with hard questions as they engage in their experiment. We are allowed to see the moments where they are thrilled with the results and the moments where they debate their own rules and decisions. This isn?t the first documentary that follows a band as they unpack their next musical endeavor, nor will it be the last. (Last year?s Get Back by Peter Jackson may have set the gold standard for this style of filmmaking.) However, whereas other films (Get Back included) allow the viewer the opportunity to see the magic of the band unravel before them, Accentattempts to do the opposite. Here, the interest lies with whether or not a digital recreation of art can find the meaning without the artist.
And, more importantly, how the artists will deal with that reality.
One of the most interesting conversations taking place within Accent is whether or not one can create art without soul. It is noted within the film that ?art stems from experience?. But if one can simply run popular melodies and lyrics through a machine in order to create something new, does it lose a sense of truth in the process?
Accent ties the power of the arts to the human soul, believing that influence gives meaning to the act of creation. Somewhat terrified by their own actions, there is a very real question of whether or not this form of writing renders the members of Yacht obsolete. As musicians, their natural impulse is to create yet they have resigned themselves to the rules that they have set out for themselves. For example, in one telling scene, the band continues to wrestle with whether or not they are allowed to bring their own input into the process. As artists, there is an innate desire to shape their art. Though they also have to remind themselves that any changes that they make potentially damage the goals of their digital work.
For them, this album is much of a philosophical process as it is an act of creation.
As The Computer Accent grapples with some surprisingly massive questions, it also understands that the human experience amounts to more than simply 1s and 0s. Although human art may be replicated, there?s something more profound at work. Experiences like pain, love and suffering may be able to communicated with lyric from a machine, but the heart behind them give them an added sense of power.
And that is something that Skynet can never replicate.
The Computer Accent?is available in theatres on Friday, October 21st, 2022. For information on screenings, click here.