This year’s IK Prize winner is an artificial intelligence machine which compares up-to-the-minute photojournalism with art from Tate’s collection. The program, Recognition, searches for visual and thematic connections between art and news, 24 hours a day. The paired images offer fresh perspectives on the world we live in.

Here are a few of our favourite matches and the stories behind them.

Explosions

Recognition layout: Cold Dark Matter: An Exploded View by Cornelia Parker
Left: Military personnel inspect the site of a bomb attack at Tak Bai district in the troubled southern province of Narathiwat, 6 September 2016. REUTERS/Surapan Boonthanom

Right: Cornelia Parker, Cold Dark Matter: An Exploded View 1991, Tate

Cold Dark Matter: An Exploded View came out of a series of works I was doing about cartoon deaths - things like, things falling off cliffs, things being run over by a steamroller, things being blown up, shot full of bullets, like Roadrunner or Tom and Jerry. The garden shed came about because I was trying to find something [familiar]… that we all identified with … We took it out to the Banbury Army School of Ammunition, to their demolition grounds where they do all these experiments with explosives and they were really keen to blow it up. I actually pressed the button that detonated it.

The whole point of suspending it is to rob it of its pathos. After it was blown up and all the objects were lying on the floor, all very distressed, they had a pathos and somehow putting it back in the air where they were a little while before, it sort of re-animates them.

Cornelia Parker, Tate

Parker’s account of her work is interesting when considering this photograph of a far more distressing subject, that of a bomb attack that took place in Thailand on 6 September 2016. Parker says that her method of suspending blown-up objects ‘robs [the sculpture] of its pathos’, making it appear animated rather than sad. In contrast, the suspension of time in the news photograph only emphasises the seriousness of something that cannot be undone. This accidental comparison by Recognition reminds us of how difficult it is to represent reality, whether it is through art or photography. 

Eruptions

Recognition layout: Vesuvius in Eruption, with a View over the Islands in the Bay of Naples by Joseph Wright of Derby
Left: Protesters take part in a march in Nantes to demonstrate against the new French labour law, 15 September 2016. REUTERS/Stephane Mahe

Right: Joseph Wright of Derby, Vesuvius in Eruption, with a View over the Islands in the Bay of Naples c.1776-80, Tate

Mount Vesuvius grabbed the attention of painter Joseph Wright, when he visited Naples in the early 1770s. In Vesuvius in Eruption Wright included the islands of Ischia and Procida, although in reality, neither would have been visible from where he was standing. By painting the peaceful surroundings of the volcano, the artist emphasises the drama of the eruption.

Hundreds of years later we are witnessing a social eruption in France, as well as other places around the world. These masked protesters were fighting against a new labour law in Nantes, France. The flame being carried perfectly mimics Wright’s detailed representation of a volcano which for many years had ‘never been free from smoke, nor ever many months without throwing up red-hot SCORIAE …’ (quoted in Egerton 1991, p.166).

Scarcely visible in the front of the painting, two men, followed by a figure, carry the body of one of the volcano’s victims, a morbid reminder of man’s vulnerability and the brevity of life.

Patterns 

Recognition layout: Alphaville 2 by Tim Head
Left: Soldiers sit on a grandstand at a military zone in Mexico City, 3 September 2016. REUTERS/Henry Romero

Right: Tim Head, Alphaville 2 2013, Tate

Tim Head’s series Fictions, including Alphaville 2, combine projections, LCD displays and inkjet prints. Each artwork expresses a different idea of space, using abstraction as a means to form a digital universe. Alphaville 2 is heavily patterned, made up of mutually inclusive parts, which cannot exist independently. The never-ending connections between the lines is like looking into a microscope and viewing the interconnectivity of the world’s fabric, whether it is skin tissue, plant matter or the joining of atoms itself.

This artwork offsets this photograph of soldiers sat shoulder to shoulder in a grandstand in Mexico City. They appear almost artificial due to their regimented arrangement. The image questions the men’s individuality. Each feels himself to be unique, yet from this distance we only see them as part of an organised whole.

The IK Prize 2016: Recognition takes place online and at Tate Britain Friday 2 September – Sunday 27 November 2016.

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IK Prize in partnership with Microsoft. 2016 winning project Recognition created by Fabrica and Jolibrain. Content Provider: Reuters.