posthumanism Tag

Machine Unlearning

Vision calibration from Machine Unlearning (2020). Photography by Elody Libe. Image courtesy of the artist.

Machine Unlearning is a video installation in the style of an ASMR roleplay, in which the artist offers a treatment administered through a chip she inserts at the back of the viewer’s neck. This chip allows the artist to directly administer the outputs of an LSTM algorithm through her whispered voice to the mind of the viewer as the algorithm unlearns language previously learned from the novel Wuthering Heights. This roleplay is complimented by a variety of physiological calibration routines and hypnotic hand gestures that play at visual rhythm and implied first person experience.
The combination of machine learning outputs and ASMR is intended to draw parallels to how the autonomous systems of algorithms are similar to the autonomous reactions of human sensory systems. Just as ASMRtists use specific sounds and visual patterns in their videos to “trigger” physical reactions in the user using stimuli, acting on the unconscious sensory processing of the listener as they watch the video, the algorithm also unconsciously responds to patterns perceived by its limited senses in order to develop its learning (and unlearning) processes.

Credits: Photography and videography by Elody Libe.

Production Support: Machine Unlearning video installation was produced at Perte de Signal with the support of the MacKenzie Art Gallery for the exhibition To the Sooe (2020) curated by Tak Pham.

The roleplay performance was developed during my artistic residency at Locus SonusÉcole Superieur d’art d’Aix en Provence and Laboratoire PRISM.

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The use of the word “intelligence” in the metaphor of AI focuses on higher functions of consciousness that algorithms do not possess. While algorithms have not meaningfully achieved a humanistic consciousness to date, today’s algorithms act autonomously on sensory information, processing data from its environment in unconscious, automatic ways. The human brain also responds unconsciously and automatically to sensory data in its environment, for example, even if you are not conscious of how hot a stove is, if you place your hand on a hot stove, your hand will automatically pull away. These unconscious, physiological actions in the sensory realm points to an area of common experience between algorithms and the human.  For more explanation of these ideas, take a look at the work of postmodern literary critic N. Katherine Hayles in her 2017 book Unthought: The power of the cognitive nonconscious.  In this way I wonder if the expression “autonomous intelligence” makes more sense than “artificial intelligence”, however like posthumanist feminist Rosi Braidotti I am deeply suspicious of the humanist pride that our species takes in the word “intelligence” as something that confers a special status and justification for domination of other forms of life on earth.

Live Performance

This work was first developed as a performance that debuted at Cluster Festival, Winnipeg in 2019.  During live performance, each audience member dons a pair of wireless headphones.  The performance allows the audience members to see the ASMR “result” of the performance for camera, simultaneous with the ability to see my “backstage” manipulation of props and light in real time.

Machine Unlearning (2019) Performance at Cluster Festival, Winnipeg. Photo: Leif Norman.

Machine Unlearning (2019) Performance at Cluster Festival, Winnipeg. Photo: Leif Norman.

Machine Unlearning (2019) Performance at Cluster Festival, Winnipeg. Photo: Leif Norman.

Toronto Biennial

November 16, 2019: 3pm-7pm

Toronto: (Check the web link here for updates)

I am please to be presenting my Larynx series (2015) compositions for live vocal quartet in the context of a  fantastic looking posthuman vocal concert curated by Myung-Sun Kim and Maiko Tanaka. The concert is included in the programming for the Toronto Biennial 2019.

Erin Gee - Larynx Series

Erin Gee – Larynx1. Epson UltraChrome K3 ink on acid-free paper.
Edition of 5.
86 x 112 cm.

TELLINGS—A Post-Human Vocal Concert seeks to challenge traditional conceptions of voice. Artists working experimentally with sound—live electronics, deep listening, sound art—perform compositions that explore new modes of vocal production. The experimental vocal compositions in solo and ensemble formats question the way we imagine the body of a voice and the “receiver” as well as the divisions made between nature and technology. Each composition performed in TELLINGS presents increasingly inter-species, inter-organ, feminist, and collaborative notions through the languages of plants, animals, and even human organs not normally associated with having authorship or intention.

Artists: Jeneen Frei Njootli, Erin Gee, Ts̱ēmā Igharas, Stephanie Loveless, and Miya Masaoka

Co-curated by Maiko Tanaka and Myung-Sun Kim.

Co-presented in partnership with Trinity Square Video and MVS Proseminar, University of Toronto—John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design

BIOS

Erin Gee (born in Regina, SK, Canada; lives in Montreal, QC, Canada) is an artist inspired by feminist, posthumanist approaches to ontology, consciousness, and the human body. Known for her work in choral composition, biodata-driven interfaces, robotics, and ASMR, she uses art to explore the autonomous nature of sensory cognition, emotion, and empathy in humans and non-human assemblages. Her work has shown internationally at venues such as: Ars Electronica, Linz; NRW-Forum Düsseldorf, and Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal. In 2020 she has a solo exhibition at MacKenzie Art Gallery, Regina.

Jeneen Frei Njootli (Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation, born in Whitehorse, YK, Canada; lives in Vancouver, BC, Canada) is a Vuntut Gwitchinartist working with mixed media, sound-based performances, textiles, and installation to explore Indigeneity in politics, community engagement, and history embedded in cultural materials. She was the 2017 recipient of the Contemporary Art Society of Vancouver’s Artist Prize. In 2018 alone she had solo exhibitions in venues such as: Contemporary Art Gallery, Vancouver; FIERMAN, New York City; and Artspace, Peterborough. Her work has appeared in numerous international exhibitions, including the Museum of Contemporary Art Toronto, Canada and Nottingham Contemporary among others.

Maiko Tanaka (born in Toronto, ON, Canada; lives in Buffalo, NY, USA) is the Executive Director of Squeaky Wheel Film & Media Art Center in Buffalo NY. She holds a BFA from OCADU and MVS from the University of Toronto. She has curated projects in Canada and abroad, including for TSV, Nuit Blanche at OCADU, Onsite, Justina M. Barnicke Gallery, InterAccess, Gendai, all in Toronto, as well as Casco, in Utrecht/NL. She co-edited The Grand Domestic Revolution Handbook (Casco) and Model Minority (Gendai) and has written for Scapegoat, C Magazine, and Fuse as well as various artist publications.

Miya Masaoka (born in Washington, USA; lives in New York City, NY, USA) is an American artist and composer. Her work explores bodily perception of vibration, movement, and time while foregrounding complex timbre relationships. Her work has been presented at the Venice Biennale; MoMA PS1, New York City; Kunstmuseum Bonn; and the Caramoor, NY. She is a 2019 Studio Artist for the Park Avenue Armory, and has previously received a Doris Duke Artist Award, Fulbright, and Alpert Award in the Arts. She teaches at Columbia University, New York City where she is the Director of the Sound Art Program.

Stephanie Loveless (born in Montreal, Canada; lives in New York, USA) is a sound and media artist whose research centres on listening and vocal embodiment. Her recent projects include a mobile web-app for geo-located listening and sound works that channel the voices of plants, animals, and musical divas. She holds MFAs from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) and Bard College, both in upstate New York, and a certification in Deep Listening from composer Pauline Oliveros. She teaches courses on Deep Listening and ecologically-oriented sound art at RPI.

Ts̱ēmā Igharas (Tahltan First Nation, born in Smithers, BC, Canada; lives in San Francisco, USA) is an award-winning interdisciplinary artist and a member of the Tahltan First Nation. Igharas is influenced by Potlatch methodology, teachings from her mentorship in Northwest Coast Formline Design at K’saan, her studies in visual culture, and time in the mountains. Igharas has shown and performed in various places in Canada and internationally, presenting her work that connects materials to mine sites and bodies to the land.