Work commissioned by Fatima Zahra Lakrissa for the School of Casablanca exhibition, La Coupole, November 2023, a project initiated by KW Institute for Contemporary Art (Berlin) and ThinkArt (Casablanca) in partnership with Sharjah Art Foundation, Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen (ifa), Goethe-Institut Marokko, and Zamân Books & Curating.
Rwais Sound Model focuses on the intersection of traditional music and artificial intelligence (AI) in Morocco. The work draws inspiration from L’Makina (The Machine), a song about the phonograph composed by the rais musician Haj Belaid in the 1930s. Observing the machine’s ability to precisely reproduce human speech, the poet contemplated whether he should stop making verses, commenting also on social changes brought by mechanization at the time. Haj Belaid’s song can be heard as an early form of critical engagement with technology in North Africa. His trouble resonates with current concerns surrounding artificial intelligence and human-machine relationships.
Recorded interpretations of the song have been input into a RAVE machine learning algorithm for timbre analysis developed by IRCAM. The resulting model enables the creation of new sounds with similar characteristics, which are featured in the installation. The work prompts questions about artificial intelligence as a non-human entity in co-creative processes. It also underscores the limitations of a technology that has yet to fully comprehend essential aspects of human expression, such as the social function of music and ethical transmission of information.
The sound installation is accompanied by a video documenting Aubry’s research in Morocco. It features musicians Ali Faiq and Idr Bazrou performing L’Makina, followed by music experiments and discussions.