Articles

ASAP Journal

Happy to announce that my short article on machine learning, ASMR and sound “Automation as Echo” written with Sofian Audry is now published in ASAP/Journal 4.2 in a collection of articles assembled by Jennifer Rhee covering automation from diverse/creative/critical perspectives.

From the article:

“The echo is a metaphor that goes beyond sound, speaking to the physical and temporal gaps in human-computer interaction that open up a space of aesthetic consumption problematized by the impossibility of comprehending machine perspectives on human terms. The echo unfolds in time, but most importantly it unfolds in space: sound travels as a physical interaction between a subject and an object that seemingly “speaks back.”

The mythological nymph Echo “speaks” or “performs” her subjectivity through reflection or imitation of the voice of human Narcissus. Her (incomplete, sometimes humorous, sometimes uncannily resemblant) nonhuman voice is dependent on the human subject, who is also the progenitor of her speech. The relationship between these two mythological entities creates an apt metaphor for machine learning: its processes are not of the human, yet its “neural” functions are crafted in imitation of and in response to human thought. As machine subjectivity is crafted from human subjectivity, we cannot grasp its machined voice, nor perceive its subjective position, through analysis of its various textual, sonic, visual, and robotic outputs alone. Rather, the “voice” of machine learning is fleeting, heard through the spaces, the gaps, the movements between the machine and the human, the vibrational color of nonhuman noise.”

ABOUT ASAP JOURNAL

ASAP/Journal is a peer-reviewed scholarly journal published by John Hopkins University Press that explores new developments in post-1960s visual, media, literary, and performance arts. The scholarly publication of ASAP: The Association for the Study of the Arts of the Present, ASAP/Journal promotes intellectual exchange between artists and critics across the arts and humanities. The journal publishes methodologically cutting-edge, conceptually adventurous, and historically nuanced research about the arts of the present.

Book: Robotic Imaginary

My robotic artwork Swarming Emotional Pianos is featured in image and text on p 131-132 of Jennifer Rhee’s newly published book: The Robotic Imaginary: The Human and the Price of Dehumanized Labor (2018, University of Minnesota Press).  The image above is just a photo of me relaxing with a coffee as I read the first few pages…

This amazing book details AI from a perspective that is driven by emotion and humanity, while referencing the work and the influence of women and poc in a way I haven’t seen before. I found myself constantly thinking: yes, yes as I read the book!

 

From the official description of the book:

The word robot—introduced in Karel Čapek’s 1920 play R.U.R.—derives from rabota, the Czech word for servitude or forced labor. A century later, the play’s dystopian themes of dehumanization and exploited labor are being played out in factories, workplaces, and battlefields. In The Robotic Imaginary, Jennifer Rhee traces the provocative and productive connections of contemporary robots in technology, film, art, and literature. Centered around the twinned processes of anthropomorphization and dehumanization, she analyzes the coevolution of cultural and technological robots and artificial intelligence, arguing that it is through the conceptualization of the human and, more important, the dehumanized that these multiple spheres affect and transform each other.

Drawing on the writings of Alan Turing, Sara Ahmed, and Arlie Russell Hochschild; such films and novels as Her and The Stepford Wives; technologies like Kismet (the pioneering “emotional robot”); and contemporary drone art, this book explores anthropomorphic paradigms in robot design and imagery in ways that often challenge the very grounds on which those paradigms operate in robotics labs and industry. From disembodied, conversational AI and its entanglement with care labor; embodied mobile robots as they intersect with domestic labor; emotional robots impacting affective labor; and armed military drones and artistic responses to drone warfare, The Robotic Imaginary ultimately reveals how the human is made knowable through the design of and discourse on humanoid robots that are, paradoxically, dehumanized.

 

Click here to view more information on the book at University of Minnesota Press

 

New World Notes Top 12 of 2018

Wagner James Au, official blogger for Second Life, included my biosignal-controlled VR work Project H.E.A.R.T. in his New World Notes 2018 roundup of most exciting innovations in AR, VR and AI! Project H.E.A.R.T.’s innovate incorporation of emotion into gameplay was included among such exciting innovations such as MICA, Magic Leap’s Eerily Human AI Avatar Who Looks You In The Eye, an AI basketball player that “learns” how to dribble a ball, and IOS ARKit technology that allows for shadows and reflections of real objects to appear in AR spaces.

 

Click here to read what else made top 12 at New World Notes

esse magazine spring 2018

My work Swarming Emotional Pianos is featured in an essay written by Lindsay Leblanc in esse magazine 93 – Printemps / été 2018. The essay also features two media artists that I respect very much, David Rokeby and Jean-Pierre Gauthier.

Following is an abstract:

Sketchy Machines: Propositions Around Three Robotic Artworks

With the increasing presence of machines in public and private life, we continue to find new ways of articulating our relationships with them. In this article, the author uses the sketch as a frame of analysis for machine artworks by Canadian artists David Rokeby, Jean-Pierre Gauthier, and Erin Gee, and argues that the sketch is a fundamentally interdisciplinary and material state that accounts for machines’ complex engagements with human and other-than-human agents. Highlighting the sketch’s unfinished, imperfect, and adaptable qualities, the author attempts to define a “sketchy materiality” as it occurs in robotic art.
Lindsay LeBlanc

To learn more, or to purchase this magazine as a digital PDF  –
http://esse.ca/en/sketch

New World Notes

Project H.E.A.R.T. (2018) was written about by Wagner James Au in his New World Notes blog on virtual worlds. I’m particularly tickled about this because he is the official blogger for the virtual world Second Life, so I’m very honored that he finds the world of Project H.E.A.R.T. interesting!

Wagner James Au, consultant and author of “The Making of Second Life” (HarperCollins) and “Game Design Secrets” (Willey) reports on virtual worlds, VR and related topics — including augmented reality, virtual currency, games and game development, and their appearances in RL popular culture and politics.

Click here to see the article

Review in Canadian Art

I really appreciate this article by Tatum Dooley for Canadian Art on the Worldbuilding exhibition curated by John G Hampton and Maiko Tanaka at Trinity Square Video. My work Project H.E.A.R.T. which highlights VR and emotions made with Alex M Lee is featured, among other great works by Jeremy Bailey Kristen D Schaffer Eshrat Erfanian and Yam Lau.  Following is an excerpt from the article:

“The gamification of our bodies renders the physical form void, replaced by screens where our bodies and emotions can be morphed and manipulated. Perhaps the only way to create art with technology as advanced and recent as VR is to reckon with its potential consequences.

Gee’s project, the most realized out of the four artists in the exhibition, masters this reckoning. I spoke with Gee in the lead-up to the exhibition, and she explained the conceptual backbone of the piece. “I’m working through questions of emotional sincerity when it comes to self-help. In theory, if you can technologically master your emotions, if you can just make yourself excited, then you can make yourself a better, happier person. I don’t know how sincere that is…”

Click on the link below for the full article.

VR and the Failure of Self-Help Technology

In general, I feel very proud of this work but also very exhausted by it.  Through the project I’ve been working through the relationship between pop music and war, self help and sincerity, and ultimately I’m working through these issues of technique and technology in how life and trauma comes to us.  During the panel for the exhibition, there was a question of whether I was “pro-war”, and it’s one that I have received a few times in facebook messages from curious friends from far away.  The project is complex and difficult to read because I think it has to be.  It reflects my own mediatized understanding of international conflict, maybe my own frustration at my lack of understanding.

The best I can understand war is how it is mediated to me: through video games and news cycles, through abstract discussions on the radio. The goal of this project was never to address the terror and complexity of geopolitical conflict, but rather, to propose a psychedelic pop culture mirror, imagining a video game ruled not by characters that espouse self-righteous violence and grit, but technologically manipulated empathy and enthusiasm.  This game fails to address war in the same way that all technologically mediated attempts to do so fail to address war.  I also am also dissatisfied at the idea of an artistic protest that makes a cartoonish, morally didactic utopia where rainbows and love shoot out of guns instead of flesh-tearing bullets. I think the answer about the politics of this game lie in the end screen: an abstract screen that confronts you with statistics of death and trauma as a result of the battle itself.  I don’t think there is a way to win the game.

Forward-Thinking Artists: Canadian Art Magazine

I’m featured in the January 2017 edition of Canadian Art Magazine! I’m particularly honored to be a part of this issue, entitled Futures. Including essays by the amazing Kai Cheng Thom, indigenous futures, an article on Xenofeminism, as well as a feature on “Forward Thinking” Canadian artists, I feel like this publication really reflects my attention as an artist equally engaged with science fiction as well as political realities of the moment.

Click here to read the full feature written by Rea McNamara, which includes 10 profiles of amazing Canadian artists working across media.

canadian_art2017

Musicworks #126 Interview

Click here to read my interview with Alex Varty.  “ERIN GEE SINGS THE BODY ELECTRONIC”

Fresh on the heels of my return from the premiere of Echo Grey in Vancouver (my newest composition for vocal quartet, feedback soloist and tape), I find I’ve received my physical copy of Musicworks, which is a triannually released publication featuring experimental sounds from across Canada.

Amidst a really massive transition phase right now, I find that teaching full time has really changed what I can do as an artist.  Pushing myself to learn entirely new skillsets in organization and pedagogical performance (sidenote: yes, everything is a performance) has left me with little time or energy to invest in building new technologies.

Music composition has been something that I can invest time into, as all I need is a few moments, a microphone, my laptop, a notepad with pencil scribbles, my imagination.

This interview with Musicworks magazine was very interesting for me, as recently my opportunities have been coming from music composition.  The whole issue is actually very interesting, with a full feature on music and sound revolution in VR spaces, as well as some features on other very energetic and productive electroacoustic artists.

Musicworks #126 is available now with a special curated cd of sounds included in the physical magazine.  On this CD you can find a track from my Voice of Echo (2011) series.