This issue of Flash Art serves as a window on developments in the field of artificial intelligence (AI). It therefore sits at the intersection of several contiguous discourses, among them contemporary art and new media studies, as well as computer and social science. Our ongoing cession of identity to nonhuman agents and intelligence demands new structures of analysis. This edition divides its treatment of AI according to theories of utopia and dystopia, of existence and consciousness, and of gender and identity. For each of our featured artists AI serves as a problematic –– oscillating between visibility and invisibility –– that articulates the struggle to represent our changing selves through often hybrid approaches to new technologies.
How does art reveal the cyborgian condition? What happens when robots get tired of our oppression? How might automation reduce cultural diversity? And must we fear that which is merely the most recent development in algorithmic human thinking? Contributors to this issue — scholars, writers and researchers from the fields of data analysis, systems theory and digital culture — seek to address these and many other questions.
Edward A. Shanken triangulates the work of artists Leonel Moura and Stelarc into observations on human-robot interaction. Katherine Cross exposes the racially and gender-motivated bigotry hardwired into the nascent AI “service industry.” Steve Kado questions whether, by fuelling the AI project, we are really asking machines to change our minds. Lev Manovich sheds light on AI’s role in our cultural lives through insights into his ongoing analysis of big cultural data and global cultural trends.
Against a backdrop in which AI’s implications are being contested by Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg, our final word with Ars Electronica’s artistic director Gerfried Stocker cautions us not to leave developments in machine learning up to engineers and private companies, but rather to consider them in relation to society as a whole.
From Pygmalion to Ping Body
by Edward A. Shanken
Age of Hybrids / Ian Cheng
by Sandro Weilenmann
Guilty Memory of the Future
by Katherine Cross
No Safe Mode / Sondra Perry
by Nora N. Khan
Immigration Made Easy
by Sam Lavigne
When the Painter Learned to Program / Harold Cohen’s AARON
by Alex Estorick
by Eli Diner
by Lev Manovich
Frontier Fears / Gerfried Stocker
by Alex Estorick
Louise Lawler MoMA/New York; Sidsel Meineche Hansen Ludlow 38/New York; “In Search of Expo 67” Musée d’art contemporain/Montreal; Marisa Merz Hammer Museum/Los Angeles; Camille Blatrix Bad Reputation/Los Angeles; Manuel Solano Karen Huber/Mexico City; Mathis Gasser Chewday’s/London; Richard Serra Museum Boijmans/Rotterdam; Win McCarthy Silberkuppe/Berlin; Jenny Holzer Hauser & Wirth/Zurich; Beatriz González Peter Kilchmann/Zurich; Cerith Wyn Evans Marian Goodman/Paris; Haroon Mirza LiFE/Saint-Nazaire; Nick Mauss Serralves Museum/Porto; “TV 70” Fondazione Prada/Milan; “Moscow Diaries” MMOMA/Moscow; “Canton Express” M+ Pavilion/Hong Kong; Patty Chang Bank/Shanghai