Speculative Futures:  A feature with Marius Troy
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Meet Norwegian designer, Marius Troy who is creating imagined futures with the use of AI, design, and art. With a background in painting, fashion photography, and the corporate tech world, Troy is a natural storyteller, with a curious and creative mind which has expanded into the world of AI and architecture. Troy lives in Norway, where he enjoys nature, painting, and creating music, showcasing how creatives can make work in both physical and digital worlds. With a humble, positive, and peaceful demeanor, Troy’s personality can be seen in his uplighting designs which are a vision for a new world where individuals live harmoniously with nature. Troy reveals his journey as an artist and delves into his framework and vision of the future where humans live in a “post-labour society.”

Your designs are refreshing and different, creating a vision for a new world using AI. Can you tell us about your journey with AI and architecture and how you became a digital designer?

MT: When working in tech I was still doing art and felt like I was living a double life.  This past winter, I decided that in order to grow, I had to reject the paycheck.  I thought to hell with it, let’s just jump out of the airplane without a parachute and see if I can learn how to fly along the way before I hit the ground. And luckily I did (smiles). There was no intention for me to create architecture and AI at this point. I promised myself that I would create one musical piece and visuals to go with it every day. Being a perfectionist I worked for 15 to 16 hours to have something to show at the end of each day that I would be proud of. I wanted to be more effective with my time, so I started exploring AI when creating visuals for my musical pieces.

I quickly saw how powerful AI is, but also had the humility that it is something completely new to me and is not the same as painting or composing music from scratch. I decided to devote my full attention and time to discovering, learning, and understanding the functions and tools. Having worked with big tech companies that have immense power, I realized I wanted to use AI for good and not for direct personal gain. I started by creating within the confines of my previous world, which was fashion, creating fashion photography, and tried to focus on opening a dialogue with fashion photographers because I had relationships with them from before. People had a lot of emotions. I got a lot of aggressive communication but also had a lot of positive curiosity.  I slowly began to grow into this tool. 

You mention using AI for good which can be seen in the uplighting and positive vision of the future in your work. Your designs emphasise geometric shapes, which contrast with the homogenous nature of modern-day architecture in the physical world and have a theme of organic scenery, water, and nature. Very curious if your designs are a vision for your ideal world and what your ideal world looks like. 

MT: I am not able to see an ideal world without being influenced by how I see the world now and where I see the world moving. Since the Industrial Revolution, the main value in human life is what you can contribute to society through work. I think that’s about to change with automation and artificial intelligence. The mundane work process can easily be replaced by that computer system, which will naturally remove some opportunities to work. I understand that this sounds pessimistic and perhaps a bit scary, but it doesn’t have to be. If this happens, the big cities will not attract as many people, because you live in a big city to find a better job, and if the best jobs are no longer there, people will move out of big cities and form smaller communities where people are more valued for their skillset than their money.

The big player in this is how will the government control this. I think those things only sound scary because we look at them through the lens of our reality today. Let’s say there are no TVs and iPhones to buy, then why would you need that money? And if we also learn that happiness doesn’t exist in gadgets or at the shopping mall, perhaps it doesn’t matter how much money you have, as long as you have real connections and you have food to eat, and then you have community. All research shows that having a good community around you is more important than money when it comes to happiness and longevity. So I think this potential scary change could be good for us in the long term. And who’s to say that these AI tools won’t make us urgently aware of this? If AI tools can view humanity within a bigger picture and analyse the data, then AI could potentially teach us what we must change in society to survive and live in harmony with our community and environment.

Super interesting. It is clear that harmony and community play a big role in your philosophy as an artist, and your designs have a clear vision of coexistence between humans and the natural world. Do you envision future communities and architecture to fit in with the natural world and what role does AI play in creating this?

MT: Absolutely! I think as a mistake that we have created a barrier between us and nature. My ideal living situation is where humans invite nature in and live in harmony with it. I am aware my architectural creations are more idealistic than they are realistic.  You will notice when I dabble in creating architecture in an urban environment, they always have an element of organic in them. They are a homage to the organic shape, structures, colours, and feeling of nature. It could be just my sensibility and what I like rather than something where I think human beings will end up. But I like that future and it’s my vision.

AI as a whole will change the creative industry, so that is when I can offer a mental framework for how that isn’t that bad. Let’s say we end up in a post-labour society, a post-labour world, where all art created will be created out of self-expression with no other intention than expressing yourself. You will not create art in order to become rich. So I think people who are afraid that art will die because of AI are, in other words, afraid that their livelihood will be gone because they make money from this art. But if this change of AI means that they will have universal basic income anyway, then capitalism will be changed. Let’s say AI creates symphonies that are so beautiful that you can’t tell the difference that, and a piece by Mahler or Beethoven or Choppa or whatever, and why does that matter? 

You have a very positive perspective about AI, do you not worry that AI will take over at the expense of human creativity? 

MT: I still paint, even though I do AI. People think that it’s either or. It’s not. AI is a child of human beings. It’s born out of our creation. So we do have the power to direct it as we wish. The main fear around AI these days is that it falls into the hands of capitalism and will be used by economic forces to propel economic growth within some portions of the world at the expense of our privacy and at the expense of our freedom. It’s important to have criticism and it’s important to have curiosity and explore the potential dangers of it, but if we only do that, then this will become our reality. I worked with AI and shifted from creating beautiful imagery to trying to inspire people to think about other ways of imagining a human future.

I’ve learned that at least through creating these pieces of imagery on Mid-journey to the viewer, there’s a value there no matter what tool or process I went through to create the image, the value is perceived, and what is that value and what does it do to the receiver of it. I think that’s more important than the process. So let’s say AI creates beautiful art, but it’s not created by humans, but it moves humans in the right direction. Then what are you fighting? If it’s used to move human beings toward despair, unhappiness, and conflict, then obviously there’s a problem there. But if it creates art that inspires us and opens new ways of thinking, maybe it can inspire human beings to create a better life. What matters is what’s at the end. I would say 99% of all art I experienced, I don’t know how it was created, who created it, what went into the whole process, or the life history of the artist. How I am affected by it is what matters to me. 

Such a refreshing take on the role of AI and art. Love the idea that AI is a child of human creation. Your designs envision the future, and since we are living in a capitalist society right now, do you think your designs are ready for the real world?

MT: I’d like to do it right now, as an experiment, because I’m not aware of anyone that’s done that at a large scale before. I think that will quickly become a symbol of how machines in cooperation with human beings can create something physical and real that affects people and can bring out an emotional response in people. I would like to do an art project and document it. Throughout the summer I’ve been trying to find financial backing to do these things, and for the last few months, I have been hunting myself, contacted by these potential go back here.  Hopefully, it will come to fruition. 

So exciting. Is that your next step as a designer, to bring your designs to life?

MT: I would say so. I mean, if it comes to that, I try not to force anything. I had a moment earlier this summer where I was eager to make something happen in the real world and I spent so much energy on it without getting it done, but it prevented me from progressing. So I am open to it and believe it will happen eventually, but I don’t have a timeframe for it.

It would be very interesting to see how people would engage with sculptures or cities envisioned with AI because it would tie all the threads together. In terms of an experiment, it would also be fascinating to see if proponents of AI would change their minds if they saw it in the physical world. Do you have any words for young designers starting their journey with AI and architecture? 

MT: Yes it’s exciting times and it does feel like you also have a responsibility. I think anyone with a certain type of skillset and understanding of the world should have a responsibility to use it for good. And I think I try to do it at my best. My words of advice are don’t be afraid to extinguish your ego as you would with fire and lead with love.

Marius Troy is a special designer with a positive energy and curiosity you cannot help but admire. His visionary framework of a post-labour world is fascinating and a testament to Troy’s ability to imagine and believe in the good for humanity. In an age, where the vision of the future as the apocalypse is prolific, it is refreshing to see a creative showcasing an alternative reality. Troy’s natural world, music, and painting reflect his love to create and more importantly, showcase how individuals can create in both the physical and digital world — there is no competition.  

About Marius Troy:

Troy has had an extensive and multi-faceted career after gaining his master’s degree in design at Oslo Academy of the Arts in 2009, he began working as an Art Director in Norway. In 2011 Troy moved to America and founded Ben Trovato, an independent fashion, photography, and art magazine. In New York, Troy created the Faces of New York Fashion Week, using social media software to create a cohesive digital experience for NYFW. This led to a startup company in New York and Berlin, offering inspiration for platforms and digital experience tools, which would be later sold to Conde Nast and Uber, and also the creation of Breed, a video tutorial website where Troy also sold his shares. Troy returned to Norway and began creating art for himself, but after the birth of his son, ended up working in the tech sphere as the creative officer and design executive.

Written by Amber Weir from GLITCH Magazine



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