Dear Nettimers,

I'd like to invite you to our exhibiton "House of Mirrors – Artificial Intelligence as phantasm" at Hartware MedienKunstVerein, Dortmund.

Apart from the actual exhibition we just published a documentation, printed and PDF, including intro, discussion of the works and a newly commissioned essay by Adam Harvey 'Today’s Selfie Is Tomorrow’s Biometric Profile' and many installation views. Free PDF download

Artists: Aram Bartholl, Pierre Cassou-Noguès, Stéphane Degoutin, Sean Dockray, Jake Elwes
Anna Engelhardt, Nicolas Gourault, Adam Harvey + Jules LaPlace, Libby Heaney, Lauren Huret, Zheng Mahler, Lauren Lee McCarthy, Simone C Niquille, Elisa Giardina Papa, Julien Prévieux, Anna Ridler, RYBN, Sebastian Schmieg, Gwenola Wagon, Conrad Weise, Mushon Zer-Aviv

Curated by: Inke Arns, Francis Hunger, Marie Lechner

"Enter the hall of mirrors, which reflects human reality, sometimes in direct reflections, sometimes in a distorting mirror, sometimes through a glass pane that promises transparency or a semi-transparent mirror that reflects on one side and is translucent on the other."

From the introduction:

"Phantasms are narratives that serve to disguise irrevocable contradictions intolerable to humans and to oppose a consistent perception of reality. AI contains multiple phantasmatic narratives. First, it can be said that it masks human fear of death by imagining a possible continued life as a machine (in the transhumanist movement). Second, it constructs AI as ‘the other’ of humankind. This phantasm draws on people's longing to be relieved from labour, for example, by digital assistants coordinating their schedules or by autonomous cars.

Further, the ‘other’ of humankind is reflected in the fear that humans could be overwhelmed by the machine developing a kind of ‘super intelligence’. It is present, for example, in numerous movies and science fiction books in which AI is depicted as humanoid robots. In this phantasm, humans are positioned as ‘the natural’, ‘the primordial’, and the machine is ‘the artificial’ to be distrusted.

It is not only fears, but also desire that is linked to the phantasm. The digital assistants that free us from labour portray the desire for freedom from the yoke of wage labour to which people in capitalist societies submit. The AIs, on the other hand, which take over the world, as in the films Ex Machina (Garland 2014) or Free Guy (Levy 2021), visualize the actually inexpressible wish for submission, which, similar to a sadomasochistic relationship, also means the freedom of the submissive, namely the freedom from responsibility.

All these unconscious desires and fears are hemmed in by taboos, social agreements about what may and may not be said. Phantasms allow us to bypass these taboos and to express what is actually unspeakable. In this sense, this art exhibition is an attempt to evoke the phantasms of AI, because artists in particular possess a deeper sensitivity that allows them to track down social phantasms and shift them from the field of the unspeakable into the field of the symbolic."

Best regards


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