Behind the Robots Eyes

Daman Diawara (US)

POSTCITY, Bunker / Basememt, Ars Electronica Gallery Spaces, Säulenhalle, the work is presented in Atelierhaus Salzamt

In the framework of the Scientist in Residence Program, Gluon launched a project with artist Manthia Diawara and researchers Tarek Besold (Alpha Health AI Lab) and Raoul Frese (Faculty of Sciences, Physics and Astronomy, VU Amsterdam). The first meeting took place at Manthia’s residency in the village of Yenne, near Dakar, Senegal. The artist and the researchers reflected together on the relationship of Senegalese people with technology and artificial intelligence, and they carried on interviews with women working on the market, fishermen and a traditional healer. The project will be further developed over the course of 2019 and will result in a movie.


Project Credits:

This project is supported by:

  • Gluon, Maumaus /Lumiar Cité
  • European ARTificial intelligence Lab
  • Creative Europe
  • Region of Brussels-Capital.


Manthia Diawara (b. 1953) was born in Mali, West Africa. He is a distinguished Professor of comparative literature and film at New York University. Diawara was educated in Guinea-Conakry, Bamako (Mali), and Paris (France), before immigrating in the United States, to pursue his studies. Manthia Diawara is a prolific writer and filmmaker. His essays and opinions in French and English, on art, cinema, and politics, have appeared in The New York Times magazine, LA Times, Liberation, Mediapart, and Artforum.

Tarek R. Besold is acting chief behavioral officer (CBO) at Alpha Health in Barcelona, as well as the chairman of the German Institute for Standardisation (DIN) NIA Working Committee on Artificial Intelligence (NA 042-01-42). Before taking on the role as CBO, Tarek was the AI Lead and a senior research scientist in Alpha Health’s AI Lab, working at the intersection between artificial intelligence and cognitive systems. Prior to joining Telefonica Innovation Alpha in Barcelona, Tarek held a position as Lecturer in Data Science at City, University of London, following PhD studies at the Institute of Cognitive Science in Osnabrück, and work as a postdoctoral researcher at the KRDB Research Center of the Free University of Bozen-Bolzano and at the Digital Media Lab of the University of Bremen. Among others, Tarek was the general chair of the HLAI 2016 Joint Multi-Conference on Human-Level Artificial Intelligence, and founder and/or organizer of several international workshop series bridging AI and cognitive science.

Raoul Frese is assistant professor of biophysics at VU Amsterdam & director of Hybrid Forms ArtScience media lab. Raoul Frese studied physics at the University of Amsterdam and received his PhD at the VU University Amsterdam, supervisor Rienk van Grondelle. After a postdoc at the Twente University (nanobiophysics), he received a young investigator grant from the Dutch science foundation (NWO-veni) to carry out his own research at the biophysics group at Leiden University. Frese became a research associate in the lab of Bob Niederman at Rutgers University (NJ, USA). After receiving an experienced investigator grant from NWO (Vidi) he and family returned to Amsterdam. At the VU University he has currently established his working group “biohybrid solar cells,” where he and his team investigate the possibilities of interconnecting photosynthetic materials to (semi-)conducting substrates for biosensors and solar energy harvesting.