untitled interspecies umwelten (2021 – )

Presentations:

More-than-Human exhibition, Onsite Gallery, Ontario College of Art and Design
Feb1 – May 13 2023

Politics of the Machine, Berlin/Virtual
October 2021

IEEE VISAP (VIS Arts Program) 2021. Virtual
October 2021

Ectopia Gallery, Lisboa, Portugal.
June-August 2021

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“Human nature is an interspecies relationship”
Anna Tsing

The project untitled interspecies umwelten is an artistic research project exploring expanded and computer-mediated experiences of conversation with other species. Through strategies in data visualization, motion capture and computer vision, the project proposes the speculative intermingling of the natural and cultural worlds of bio-semiotics and extra-verbal language. Its goal is to develop an interspecies futurity through which the collaborative practices with multiple species of plants, animals, fungi and microbes may inhabit the field, scientific/engineering laboratories and studios of computational practices (in silico).

In addition, the work is motivated to explore two emerging mythologies. The first is a familiar one – developed through prescient understanding of nonhuman systems (be it computer AI, or nonhumans) and the perspective of them as analogues for human minds. Kate Crawford speaks against this oversimplification of intelligence as an elision of the human as embodied, relational and set within wider ecologies. The second, is the myth of language as anthropocentric, verbal and utilitarian. Nature abounds with communicative structures beyond our comprehension and human-determined logic. By using simple computer systems with customizable parameters of ‘seeing’ and ‘listening’, could we formulate modes of communication that construct an interspecies umwelten, an multitude of semiotic traces that we may respond to?

etude 1:

OpenCV motion tracking and color extraction of Euglena gracilis

Using Blob tracking, the movement of Euglena becomes the trigger for a generative text segment. In this example two instances of the microscopic feeds are used to generate text in a call – response fashion. The text is taken from a database of tweets (filtered for the word ‘love’) and organized according to sentiment. Arguably this method presents a crude superimposition of affect on the otherwise random movement of the organism.

moving Euglena triggers the composition of a generative poetry

Biofrictions Virtual Residency (2021)

This aspect of the residency with Cultivamos Cultura focused on the reading of DNA , and ways towards “understanding” other species through phenomena like color and movement.  
The text is generated from subjective responses to the abstracted images of the moving organism and reference a semi – fictional archive of my past, perhaps attempting to make sense of what we see through the lens of our memories.
Further on, simple random word substitution creates a series of generative text  that obfuscates this archive.  This interplay between computational and biological,  human and machine interpretation will be further explored through live communication.  

Beyond Classification: The Machinic Sublime at Politics of the Machine (2022) with Eunsu Kang, Robert Twomey and Joshua Jin

Beyond Classification: The Machinic Sublime (BCMC) emulated an academic roundtable discussion with the authors and 3 machinic/more-than-human guests.  Part performance, part intervention within the context of an academic conference, BCMC introduces a novel and explicitly visible strategy of co-dependency for an array of diverse intelligences through a connected loop of human, machine, and animal agencies.  The meteoric rise of AI in the last years can be seen as a part of a larger tendency towards deeper, more opaque data collection and analysis techniques that form the dense substratum beneath the proliferation of human-computer interfaces today. As a human developer, the most striking qualities of generative AI are its vastness, non-determinism, and infinitude— explicit themes and qualities of a machinic ‘sublime’. How can a human artist/programmer sensibly navigate this multi-dimensional space of latent meaning?

This intervention is an experimental roundtable discussion/performance via web conferencing, a new kind of Turing Test where success in the testing is not found in the plausible simulation of human consciousness through speech, but rather in expressing diverse intelligences through new forms of language. In this multi-agent exchange, human interlocutors and non-human partners argue the possibility of a machinic sublime. Together, these interlinked discussions become an emergent system. In this roundtable format, audience interventions are welcome.

More-than-Human exhibition, Onsite Gallery, OCAD, TORONTO

In this iteration of the work, a live sample of Euglena gracilis graces the stage via a live feed from a microscope in the gallery. Its metaboly -shapes+movements- rewrite a key coming-of-age text (Joyce’s Portrait of an Artist) , perhaps speculating on the way our emerging interspecies relationships will be brought to bear on revisionist practices of history and archiving. Crucially, the installation required frequent interventions as unanticipated issues (such as fluctuations in temperature, environmental noise etc) would come up which inevitably stressed the system. The project was an experiment in an aesthetics of (promiscuous) care that extend from traditionally hospitable spaces such as culture farms/specific lab environments to unconventional spaces like the gallery.

mural design support by Natalie Plociennik