2017 / 316 September – October 2017
Issue 316
September – October 2017

Contents

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.

Good reading,

The Editors

Features
From Pygmalion to Ping Body
by Edward A. Shanken

Age of Hybrids / Ian Cheng
by Sandro Weilenmann

Al through the Technologist’s Eye / Mario Klingemann
by
Luba Elliott

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

Computer Visions
by Eli Diner

All Systems Go / Lawrence Lek
by
Anya Harrison

Homebrew Computer
by Jenna Sutela

Who Cares if You Listen: the Algorithm at 100
by Steve Kado

Conceiving Autonomy / Lynn Hershman Leeson
by
Elvia Wilk

Closed Circuits and Echo Chambers / Cécile B. Evans
by
Katharina Weinstock

Automating Aesthetics
by Lev Manovich

Frontier Fears / Gerfried Stocker
by Alex Estorick

Reviews
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/LondonRichard Serra Museum Boijmans/Rotterdam; Win McCarthy Silberkuppe/Berlin; Jenny Holzer Hauser & Wirth/Zurich; Beatriz González Peter Kilchmann/Zurich; Cerith Wyn Evans Marian Goodman/ParisHaroon 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