AI on the couch
The picture shows a desert-like landscape. On the left of the picture, a man in a suit is looking at a kind of sculpture, a large head whose side facing the viewer is made of clocks.
Surrealistic Questions to the Artificial Unconscious
Sat, November 25, 2023 11 am – 6 pm CET, Day of Action

Following in the footsteps of surrealism, we are allowing the invisible to become visible. In workshops and an interactive thematic program, we invite you to experience and find out for yourself what AI has to do with our unconscious.

Since Sigmund Freud at the latest we have known that, in addition to our conscious memories, experiences, and emotions, we also have an entire cosmos of subconscious desires, dreams, and fantasies that are hidden. But what if we have also given a mind to the machines that now learn modelled on the way that we learn? What if artificial intelligence – which to date only possesses consciousness of its own in science fiction movies – has an unconscious mind just like we do? After all, generative AI learns from our collective texts and images.

Once before, after the discovery of the human unconscious and its exploration in depth psychology, we stood on the threshold of an unknown world. At that time, artists developed new methods and creative research approaches to open up this new terrain: with automatic writing, collages, and séances, above all it was Surrealism that tried to bring the unconscious to the light through art.

We want to use the Surrealists’ treasure trove of methods to engage with AI. After Freud revolutionized psychology and C.G. Jung proposed his collective unconscious theory, we have learned a great deal of new things about the human psyche. Can we follow similar paths to achieve a better understanding of artificial intelligence?



Program items

11-12 a. m.

Workshop: Exquisite Corpse – Generating Stories by Chance and AI

12-1 p. m. 

Talk: AUTOPOIESIS – Art for the Brain 

An interdisciplinary research project by artist duo ATELIER-E in collaboration with the team for Applied Neurocognitive Systems at Fraunhofer IAO

1-2 p. m.


2-3 p. m. 

Workshop: Creative Patterns – Surrealistic Discoveries

3-4 p. m.

Workshop: Exquisite Corpse – Generating Stories by Chance and AI

4-5 p. m. 

Workshop: Does AI Dream of Electric Sheep? Dream interpretation of Humans and Machines
Dr. Brigitte Holzinger
Wiener Institut für Bewusstseins- und Traumforschung

5-6 p. m.  

Panel Discussion: Generative AI and the (Machine) Unconscious

Dr. Brigitte Holzinger, Mads Pankow, Dr. Hannah Steurer

Moderation: Tina Lorenz

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Project team

Concept / Idea / Project Management: Tina Lorenz 
Project management: Sabine Jäger, Laura Schmidt


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