‘The Computer Accent’ Shows What Happens When AI Takes Over the Artistic Process

Ben Friedman


In the age of globalism, innovation has become the norm. The 20th century saw our great artists prophesizing a future where technology dictated our culture and society. 2001: A Space Odyssey showcased Stanley Kubrick’s wonder and trepidation in artificial intelligence, whereas Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner foresaw a future where AI would become “more human than human.” What both directors understood is mankind’s innate fascination with technology as an expression of self. No documentary captures this phenomenon better than Sebastian Pardo and Riel Roch Decter’s The Computer Accent.


Set in the world of electric music, The Computer Accent follows the Portland dance-pop band YACHT as they embark to create their seventh studio album. The kicker? The members hand over the creative process to artificial intelligence, as to better understand their musical style, interests, and along the way, gain a further sense of self-discovery. To achieve this, YACHT enlists the help of technologists, AI scientists, groundbreaking machines, data analysis programs, gadgets, and a plethora of other scientific mumbo jumbo to create the first musical collaboration between mankind and robot.


While the high-concept endeavors of YACHT may be groundbreaking, it is easy to get lost in the minutia of science. The Computer Accent is forced to explain the history of computers, the language of coding, and the interplay of technology and art. As a result, the film loses focus; forced to explain millions of years of human evolution in 88 minutes. Yet, the fast-paced nature of the documentary allows these segments to come and go. For audiences wishing for a comprehensive breakdown of the technology utilized, The Computer Accent may be too broad to achieve a thorough understanding. Yet, where The Computer Accent comes to life is its philosophical musings of what art is and is not.

As AI becomes readily more present in art, its execution has become the subject of much controversy.  The Computer Accent is at its best when it weighs in on these critiques. The filmmakers and subject matter themselves are seemingly wrestling with this question. At one point, a member of YACHT exclaims, “This could be the next step or the conclusion of this band.” The uncertainty weaves a sense of wonder and discovery into the narrative structure, allowing the audience to embark on the journey alongside the band.


As The Computer Accent progresses, the film’s focus shifts from the music to the musician. In doing so, humanity is injected into the cold, numbers-based world of technology and data. It does not matter if AI music is art or not. Instead, The Computer Accent is a story about self-discovery and through its earnest exploration, offers a rewarding examination of the artist’s journey.

Author Bio:

Ben Friedman is a freelance film journalist and a contributing writer at Highbrow Magazine. For more of his reviews, visit bentothemovies.com, his podcast Ben and Bran See a Movie, or follow him on Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube: The Beniverse


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