Tivon Rice

Environment Built for Absence (an unofficial/artificial sequel to JG Ballard’s “High Rise”)

FILE Sao Paulo 2019 | Videoart
Electronic Language International Festival



In early 2018, the demolition of the Netherland’s Central Bureau of Statistics Office provided a type of slow cinema for railway passengers traveling between The Hague and Amsterdam. Over the following year, as the building was methodically deconstructed from the top down, I visited the site each month to document the gradual erosion. Using a drone and a digital mapping process, photogrammetry, I created an archive of virtual 3D models. As the building’s architecture and its inevitable collapse were reminiscent of English Author J.G. Ballard’s 1975 novel High Rise, I also sought to accompany this scene with the voice of a machine learning system trained on the complete corpus of Ballard’s writing. This AI – a recurrent neural network – generates texts that describe the materials, invisible bodies, and possible narratives residing within the broken grounds of the building.

Made in collaboration with: Google Artists and Machine Intelligence, Yukun Zhu, the University of Washington Center for Digital Arts and Experimental Media, Maxwell Forbes.
Narration: Kevin Walton


Tivon Rice is an artist and educator working at the intersections of visual studies and technology. Based in Seattle (US) and Den Haag (NL), his work critically explores representation and communication in the context of digital culture. His projects incorporate a variety of materials – both real and virtual – and examine the ways physical environments and mass media create images, and in turn build histories around sites and communities.