Catastrophic Interference: A collaborative multimedia installation at Harvard ARTS FIRST Festival


Catastrophic Interference

Manaswi Mishra

Wednesday — Sunday
April 24, 2024 —
April 28, 2024
6:00pm — 8:00pm ET

Explore Opera of the Future’s PhD student Manaswi Mishra's collaborative multimedia installation, Catastrophic Interference, at Harvard's ARTS FIRST Festival

Catastrophic Interference is a multimedia installation based on text, sound, image, and smell that explores the concepts of memory and forgetting while investigating the complex couplings between a human and a machine. The project is structured around memories (distorted, blurred, sometimes fake, and imposed) of Lviv and Luhansk, two Ukrainian cities situated at the country's opposite ends.

We speak of Catastrophic Interference, also known as catastrophic forgetting, when an artificial neural network abruptly forgets previously learned information upon learning a new one. The human brain performs similar volt; thus, memories can be suppressed or altered, and the faces or places, once known, can be disfigured, or even forgotten. Furthermore, it was discovered that, contrary to popular belief, our perception has been shaped by natural selection to hide (and not reveal) objective reality. Thus, we are prone to illusions and hallucinations. In machine learning, hallucinations are misleading or incorrect results that AI models generate and present as actual. The project explores that sphere of glitches, errors, and bugs that make the machine more humane.

Our memory can hallucinate, too.

The installation is a collaboration between:


Catastrophic Interference

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