Silencing the Conscious: The Representation of the API Body in Ex Machina // published in Hyphen

ex_machina

The plot line dictates, culturally and historically, a dominant narrative told many times in film and media. I wish it were different. With the myriad of racial, cultural, and social stories flooding the media, visibility of API bodies is still so very far behind in the mainstream culture even when it is inserted into film as an aside.

From two teenage boys creating a women in the 1980s film Weird Science to a robotics scientist creating a Voice Input Child Identicant (VICI) in cult classic sitcom Small Wonder, the impact of robotics and artificial intelligence on the human condition isn’t anything new. The profound interest in artificial intelligence has gained popularity with surrealist images of Google’s AI perceiving images in nature to self-driving cars. The rapid development in the realms of science enhance existing technologies to make our lives convenient. But the dominant narratives persist in popular culture as seen in the Alex Garland’s directorial film debut in Ex Machina. Since the release of the film, critics laud the triumph of soft spoken and seemingly delicate feminine robot Ava. As she speaks to Turing tester, Caleb, a programmer for Bluebook (Google-esque technology company), we realize she is well aware of the surroundings and has even developed qualities of human behavior that mimic her ability to think of ways to escape her captor-maker.

However, the film seemed to backfire as an interpretation of the battle between the sexes. Nathan, maker of Ava, created a female AI based on Caleb’s pornographic preferences, which reminds us that Nathan himself knew to use one of his own employees as a ploy in confirming his abilities and deftness in using programming and coding to materialize his fantasies and desires. The creation of Ava is also a way for Nathan to assert his control over Caleb.

Read the rest of the piece here

Panel Discussion of Evie Leder’s The Objects at A Simple Collective

I will be participating on a panel discussion scheduled for  Tuesday, June 17th from 6:30-8:00 pm to discuss the work of Bay Area artist Evie Leder. Her current body (no pun intended, maybe) is currently on view at A Simple Collective (San Francisco, CA). Here’s an excerpt from the shows press release,

Evie Leder’s The Objects is a meditation on the male body consisting of approximately thirty videos, along with a series of detail photographs and video stills. Over a filming period of ten days, fourteen men—a diverse group of performers and artists in the San Francisco queer scene—visited the artist’s studio one by one. Creating an intimate space and relationship between artist and subject, Leder gave simple, but deliberate instruction: stand quietly, breathe, stretch, open and close eyes, turn…In Leder’s series, the men are objects, but specific, very human objects, with presence.

For more information, please visit the event link here

From Scottsdale: This is a Present from a Small Distant World Shotgun Review in Art Practical’s 4.1 Shotgun Issue

New Catalogue + Judd Greenstein. This is a Present from a Small Distant World, 2012; installation view. Courtesy of the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, Scottsdale. Photo: Dorothy Santos.

The New Catalogue artist collective, composed of Mary Voorhees Meehan, Neil Donnelly, Jonathan Sadler, and Luke Batten, collaborated with composer Judd Greenstein to explore humanity, history, memory, space, and the unknown in their exhibition This is a Present from a Small Distant World: New Catalogue + Judd Greenstein, at the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art. When viewers first enter the exhibition space, the large-scale installation is enclosed by two parallel white walls covered with friendly messages written in black bold sans serif type. Multicolored light boxes illuminate printed words such as “coffee,” “vinyl cutter,” “advice from a family member,” “string cheese,” and “twenty books.” These are only a small fraction of the humorous, endearing, and poignant answers to questions about communication with extraterrestrial beings.

Walking through the red carpeted interior of the makeshift corridor, flat-screen monitors pose questions to the public. Classical music permeates the space. Between the exposed, unpainted, raw wooden beams, questions on newsprint paper invite viewers to participate in an analog discussion. Some of the questions include “What are ten things aliens would need to see/taste/touch/experience to understand life on earth?“; “Which five songs would you bring to space so alien life could understand us?”; and “What do you imagine aliens are like?” Answers to that last question included “Lady Gaga,” “Nikki Minaj,” and “Michael Jackson,” suggesting that some of the most colorful human beings in the public eye are the most foreign and otherworldly.

These human observations ask us to consider what would happen if we could transmit and receive communication with alien life. Based on the posted responses, possibilities range from humankind’s greatest accomplishments in the arts and sciences to the sharing of radical and pointed views about our political and social state. The responses also speak to something deeper and more existential. New Catalogue and Greenstein have created a work that reminds viewers of the qualities philosophers and scientists have posited separate humans from other species: the ability to introspect, activate memory, and create awareness.

Originally posted to Shotgun Reviews on Art Practical, please click here to view.

Movement in Many Parts Shotgun Review in Art Practical’s 4.1 Shotgun Issue

Noritaka Minami, A706 (Wall I), 2011; archival pigment print mounted on aluminum; 30 x 38 in. Courtesy of the Artist and the Kearny Street Workshop, San Francisco.

Humans are resilient. Our anatomy is extraordinary and highly complex. We build, construct, destroy, and synthesize. But human nature involves understanding the biology and mechanisms that provoke us to move and accelerate. In Movement in Many Parts, an exhibition curated by Lucy Seena K. Lin and Weston Teruya, artists investigate human evolution through nature and industry. Their ruminations are shown through organic forms, moving image, photography, drawing, and painting. Each work reminds us of the adage that the totality of many things in concert is far greater than one single part of the whole.

In A1007 (Wall II) (2011), Noritaka Minami asks us to peer into the modular housing built within the Japanese urban landscape. At the start of the series, a viewer is let into a small room with a single, large round window that looks out onto the city and other pods. There is no returning gaze; a viewer sees only the disheveled room of a seemingly busy city dweller. The room could very well be a viewer’s; the window is the only way to see outside and to observe other living things. Stagnancy is apparent through the dull colors of bed sheets and the aging, disintegrating papers on the wall. Even the dated typography of the numbers on the clock suggests a thick layer of dust has settled over things untouched. The scene gives the sense that the busyness of city life has depleted the weary soul that inhabits this space. Minami’sTower (Facade 1) (2011) includes a segment of the exterior architecture that gives a viewer not only a sense of scale but also of how nature has weathered the building’s exterior. The erosion suggests that the original design is obsolete in this fast-paced environment.

While Minami’s photographs depict an environment, Kim Anno’s photographs ponder the effects of climate change and demonstrate how humans may adapt to and work with rising sea levels. Men and Women in Water Cities (2011) shows individuals fully clothed in suits and corporate attire turning their bodies toward a viewer, as though caught in mid-action. The picture plane presents something absurd. Yet, is it as absurd as we think? Anno proposes peculiar but perhaps ingenious ways we might survive despite nature’s disposition, showing what humans may be driven to do when it is necessary to endure. It is this human tendency toward movement that forces resiliency.

Originally posted to Shotgun Reviews on Art Practical, please click here to view.