Butterfly’s Dreams: The New Aesthetic of AI in Artistic Practice / Nanyang Technological University (NTU), Singapore, credit: tom mesic

Butterfly’s Dreams: The New Aesthetic of AI in Artistic Practice

Nanyang Technological University (NTU), Singapore / Atelierhaus Salzamt

In his legendary Taoist anecdote on Butterfly Dreams, Zhuang-zi famously pondered whether he was a man dreaming he was a butterfly or a butterfly dreaming he was a man. At first impression, this might seem to be a question of what is real. However, this implies a favoring of one state over another. But both are dreams equally real (and unreal), oscillating between the ego and unconscious self. Such exchanges allow one to explore their inner self; in other words, the butterfly and man are both selves, from dreaming and awakening to wondering, transforming and melting between states.

Butterfly’s Dreams: The New Aesthetic of AI in Artistic Practice alludes to the latent qualities of Machine Learning. It demonstrates how AI can be used to enhance creativity and innovation in artistic practice and the potential for AI to revolutionize how we create and experience art. The works featured explore possible interchanges between dreams and provoke dialogues surrounding the role of machines in sense-making.

The Exhibition comprises 11 works by 16 artists from the Interdisciplinary Media Design Program Pathway in Nanyang Technological University, School of Art, Design and Media and exchange students from the Global Innovation Design Program at the Royal College of Art and Imperial College London. This is the first time Singapore’s international collaborative multimedia will premiere at the Ars Electronica Festival.

  • 3 x 1 = 1

    3 x 1 = 1

    Li LuQi (CN)

    3 x 1 = 1 is an exhibition that delves into the profound impact of childhood experiences on our personalities. Using StableDiffusion, I created AI-generated imaginary friends based on childhood memories and experiences, brought to life as 3D models in virtual environments.

  • A.I. Grotto

    A.I. Grotto

    Zhang Ziyi (CN), Nur Haidah (SG)

    A.I. Grotto examines the relationship between AI-generated art, craftsman spirit, and ancient heritage sites. It seeks to initiate a dialog with the public, contemplating the coexistence of AI and the craftsman spirit in the future.

  • Box Body

    Box Body

    JJ Agacoili (PH), Xin Wen (US)

    Showcased at Ten Square Singapore as a part of the 2023 ART-ACT Festival and Singapore Art Week, Box Body is a live interactive 3D performance of a giant inside a box on a curved billboard screen.

  • Cog in the Machine

    Cog in the Machine

    Melodie Edith James (SG)

    Cog in the Machine is an experimental graphic novel that takes a posthuman approach to narrativity and design. The project seeks to use themes of technology to not only provide answers about our place in the universe as humans, but also to raise questions that contribute to the posthuman dialogue.

  • Cometale


    Fuguo Xue (CN)

    Cometale is an interactive installation that explores the relationship between comets and nature through the lens of AI art technology. Inspired by “Divination by Astrological and Meteorological Phenomena,” an ancient Chinese silk book that demonstrates the divination practice using astrology and meteorology.

  • Feedback*


    Ong Kian Peng (SG)

    Feedback* is an experimental audiovisual toolkit within Touchdesigner for live performances to work with AI models. The project aims to create a collaborative environment between AI and performers in a real-time context.



    Jon Tan (SG), Benjamin Lim (SG)

    Memento is a collaborative animated film portraying the intricacies of our emotional lives by exploring the trappings of our personal memories. The film utilizes a train journey as a metaphor to depict the path of life and its trials, with characters personified to our core emotions making their entry and exit at each stop.

  • Memories of Ming

    Memories of Ming

    Shiao-ya (Maggie) Huang (TW)

    An AI generated immersive space that brings to life the Memories of Ming, an AI entity. Ming (明) also means “tomorrow” in Chinese, symbolizes the near-existence of Ming and the spaces generated by it.

  • Memory Misprint();

    Memory Misprint();

    Alicia Ng (SG)

    Memory Misprint(); surfaces the ethical complexities of artificial intelligence (AI) and critically reflects what it means to be human. The work utilizes generative models (GPT-2, VQGAN+CLIP, Deep Daze) to visualize memory distortion.

  • Solemn Creatures

    Solemn Creatures

    Manasi Nair (IN), Josiah Chua (SG)

    Solemn Creatures is a series exploring female identity and beauty in fashion with the grotesque charm of the posthuman visuals. Researched and developed in “Fashion Artifice”; a design project that explores the intersection of artificial intelligence, fashion, and posthumanism.

  • Synthetic Beasts Unleashed

    Synthetic Beasts Unleashed

    Roger Ng Wei Lun (MY), Muhammad Raihan Bin Ismail (SG)

    Through the integration of artificial intelligence into traditional shadow puppetry, Synthetic Beasts Unleashed speculates a future where bio-engineering has birthed unprecedented life forms. Immersing viewers into an artificial nature devoid of its original essence, this installation confronts humanity’s audacious ability to manipulate nature and play the role of a divine creator.


Young and research intensive, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU Singapore) has 33,000 undergraduate and postgraduate students in engineering, business, science, humanities, arts, social sciences, education and medicine. Ranked among the world’s top universities, NTU is home to world-class institutes – the National Institute of Education, S Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Earth Observatory of Singapore and Singapore Centre for Environmental Life Sciences Engineering.


Curators & Organization: Ina Conradi, Ong Kian Peng

We wish to acknowledge the funding support for this project from Nanyang Technological University, School of Art, Design and Media, Institute of Science and Technology for Humanity, Goh Swee Chen NTU Board of Trustees, Chairman, National Arts Council, URECA Undergraduate Research Program, the IMDA iPREP Program, AVS Printing Pte Ltd.