Moscow, Petrovka st. 25
Daemons in the machine
“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”
Arthur C. Clarke
Every time has its own daemons: headstrong ancient Greek “daemons” – begetters, ghosts, angels and demons of monotheistic religions, artificial intelligence of immediate future. Now “daemons” are referred to as routine processes of operating systems.
Today, our magical thinking is directed to digital processes that became “Second nature” of the human being: we animate them, fill them with hyper-expectations and hyper-fears, try to define with the help of new myths. The artists seek for language to cast spells on new daemons or talk with them in their language: machines, neural networks and electric circuits.
Rosi Braidotti, one of the main posthumanism theoreticians, argues that zoé, vital life force, is peculiar both for the man and other types of matter - including technical objects. Artificial intelligence appears as posthuman subject that consists of mechanic and digital elements.
Philosopher Alexey Grinbaum points at the similarity between intellectual systems of contemporary world and Judaic angels – autonomous entities that serve the purpose declared in advance. Will artificial neural networks serve modern society like angels serve God? Invisible, ghostly and increasingly autonomous entities are the technological servants of modern society that provide its continuous functioning. They combine aspects of myth, politics,science and technology. Daemons-councillors of Ancient Greeks become semi-autonomous workers, guards and observers of the modern world.
Appearance of the rational daemon – strong artificial intelligence (AI) –is ahead. Maybe it his is as mythical object as the “Einstein’s Brain” in RolanBarth’s telling that solves all problems of the universe. Myth of the machine brain encourages both scientists and contemporary artists: emergence of strong AI will imply not only changes in daily life, but fundamental transformation ofthe very notions of human, art and consciousness.
If strong artificial intelligence is possible, will we be able to understand we are already in “brave new world”, or to the moment oftechnological singularity we will merge with Second nature in so much that will be inseparable from its evolution?
New technological revolution may appear as the most radical in humanhistory, that’s why LABORATORIA Art&Science Foundation took this topic for its tenth anniversary the exhibition dedicated to artistic rethinking of AI.The majority of projects presented is created specially for the exhibition in deep collaboration of the artists, scientists and engineers.
Participants of the exhibition create modern daemons with their instruments, re-think, criticize, teach them, foster dialogue with them. The system of artificial intelligence becomes an art form. We may distinguish three main methods used by artists:
Thomas Feuerstein, “Where dogs run”, Elena Nikonole and Erik Mátrai create new mythologies. Thomas Feuerstein and “Where dogs run” re-actualizes “Demons” by F.M.Dostoevsky and “Divine Comedy” Dante Alighieri, transcending them to the world of technological singularity, and uncover monumental pictures of possible future before us. Elena Nikonole refers to ancient Greek theatre image of Deus ex machina: neural network becomes the author of new sacred text that enters into the world through microphones of security cameras and IP-printers.
Dmitry Kawarga, Jon McCormack and ::vtol:: create Technocenoses: autonomous communities of intellectual systems. Their works live in their own world, the human presence in it is non-obliging. “Absorbing Concepts” by Dmitry Kawarga transforms philosophical texts into abstract drawings, robots-painters of Jon McCormack build their ecosystem and try to make arrangement to survive together, and ::vtol:: presents his cyber-mother who is preoccupied with surviving of her fosterlings – Tamagochi toys.
The main theme of the third group of artworks by Memo Akten, Egor Kraft and Justine Emard becomes the exploration of outer world by the robots and gradual self-complication. They live together with us: they try to recognize and remember the visitors at the exhibition, invent intricate substitutes for lost fragments of Ancient Greek statues, learn dancing and human speech.
The Art&Science Incubator section dips into the process of interaction of scientists and artists. You get into the working process of LABORATORIA Art&Science and you may get into our methodology. You will see video documentation of meetings and discussions of scientists and artists, of the conference held during the exhibition arrangement, and also video excursions of previous projects. Here you may look behind the scenes at the work of engineers and see the programs that got cyber-life into the works at the exhibition. You will meet the students of MMOMA School of Contemporary Art holding their own research on AI and will have an opportunity to take part in the interactive VR game made by Kaspersky Lab.
From our very birth we are included not only in the world of living creatures, but in the world of machines as well — global technocenosis of modernity. Artists reflect upon this situation and create new myths. They speak with the visitors on “techne” language – combination of technology and art. Together with the unity of creation is born the unity of the world. A man stops being “the measure of all things”. The machines get their measure – daemons, and they gradually get their autonomy in it, while art provokes the dialogue between biological and technological agents.