to the sooe Tag

to the sooe @ Squeaky Wheel, Buffalo, NY

Love & Sex Show: Sweet Nothings

Special Event | Friday, February 14, 7–10 pm

My work with Sofian Audry to the sooe (2018) will be featured as part of  The Love and Sex Show: Sweet Nothings at Squeaky Wheel Film and Media Arts Centre in Buffalo, NY. This edition of the annual event focuses on sound and voice, featuring my audio work on a set of wireless headphones that can be worn throughout the gallery, as well as film installations and kareoke and performance by Thirza Cuthand, Jess Dobkin, Caroline Doherty, Lauren Fournier, Erin Gee, Dina Georgis and Sharlene Bamboat, Desiree Kee, Hope Mora, Michael Robinson, and Wayne Yung.

Review: Akimblog, Canada

The first review for my solo exhibition To the Sooe at the MacKenzie Art Gallery is here!  To the Sooe is on view until April 19th in Regina, Canada.

“Gee delivers the output in ASMR style through role play and a sound performance that leave you both mesmerized and tingling to your core. The sterile white walls and scientific jargon of the exhibition texts should not deter you from this immersive and sensory experience. Gee’s complex communication configurations require your time, patience and an open mind.” -Alexa Heenan, Akimblog

Click here to read the full review

Machine Unlearning

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

In Machine Unlearning, the artist offers a neural conditioning treatment by whispering the unraveling outputs of an LSTM algorithm trained on Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights as the algorithm “forgets.” The combination of machine learning and ASMR draws parallels between autonomous algorithms and the autonomous functions of the human body.  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.

Cover Story: Leader Post

I was surprised for my exhibition To the Sooe to be featured as front-page news on January 27, 2020 in the Leader Post, the leading newspaper of Regina Saskatchewan. Inside the paper you can find an interview with exhibition curator Tak Pham and I regarding my solo show at the MacKenzie Art Gallery, To the Sooe.

““Erin’s work is very, very immersive. It’s really bringing the reaction, the chemistry, the biology within your body and really bringing it outwards and put(ting) it on display,” said Tak Pham, who curated this exhibition at the MacKenzie.”

Click here to read the full article.

 

 

Solo Exhibition MacKenzie Art Gallery

From January 24-April 19 2020, my first major solo exhibition in a Canadian museum, To the Sooe, will be on view at the MacKenzie Art Gallery in Regina, Canada.

To the Sooe is curated by Tak Pham, and features a collection of my embodied technological works to date, as well as a few brand new works made especially for this exhibition including video installation Machine Unlearning (2020) and interactive biodata sound sculpture Pinch and Soothe (2020).

The exhibition has already garnered major attention from the printed press in Regina, with front page feature stories in both the Leader Post and the Prairie Dog as well as a french language interview with Radio Canada.  As part of my exhibition activities I also gave an artist talk at the University of Regina as part of their Art for Lunch speaker series on January 24, 2020.

Cover Story: Prairie Dog Magazine

“Modernity and the Age of Reason kind of championed the brain as this really important thing that defined us as human,” she adds. “I’m interested in recent scientific studies that [show] it’s not all about the brain. Our thinking process actually happens in concert with our body beyond the brain. What I’m interested in is using technology to create a culture of the body.”

“I’m interested in making a conversation about technology that doesn’t centre on intelligence but on emotion.”

– Erin Gee, excerpts from interview with Gregory Beatty

My exhibition “To the Sooe” at the MacKenzie Art Gallery is front page news in Regina’s Prairie Dog Magazine!  The Prairie Dog is Regina’s top source for what is going on in entertainment and the arts, so it is a great honor to be featured.  I also appreciate the reporting done by Gregory Beatty on this interview.  Click here to read the full article.

As a very brief aside, I want to address to the use of the words “Sound-Shaman” on the cover of this magazine.  I have never used these terms to describe my practice, as I am not currently practicing any form of spiritual faith that would qualify me to do so. These words are not my own, but were an editorial decision that I do not identify with and strongly reject.

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.

to the sooe

A 3D printed sound object that houses a human voice murmuring the words of a neural network trained by a deceased author.

to the sooe (SLS 3D printed object, electronics, laser-etched acrylic, audio, 2018) is the second piece in a body of work Erin Gee made in collaboration with artist Sofian Audry that explores the material and authorial agencies of a deceased author, a LSTM algorithm, and an ASMR performer.

The work in this series transmits the aesthetics of an AI “voice” that speaks through outputted text through the sounds of Gee’s softly spoken human vocals, using a human body as a relatively low-tech filter for processes of machine automation.  Other works in this series include of the soone (2018), and Machine Unlearning (2018-2019)

to the sooe is a sound object that features a binaural recording of Erin Gee’s voice as she re-articulates the murmurs of a machine learning algorithm learning to speak. Through this work, the artists re-embody the cognitive processes and creative voices of three agents (a deceased author, a deep learning neural net, and an ASMR performer) into a tangible device. These human and nonhuman agencies are materialized in the object through speaking and writing: a disembodied human voice, words etched onto a mirrored, acrylic surface, as well as code written into the device’s silicon memory.

The algorithmic process used in this work is a deep recurrent neural network agent known as “long short term memory” (LSTM). The algorithm “reads” Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights character by character, familiarizing itself with the syntactical universe of the text. As it reads and re-reads the book, it attempts to mimic Brontë’s style within the constraints of its own artificial “body”, hence finding its own alien voice.

 

The reading of this AI-generated text by a human speaker allows the listener to experience simultaneously the neural network agent’s linguistic journey as well as the augmentation of this speech through vocalization techniques adapted from Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response (ASMR). ASMR involves the use of acoustic “triggers” such as gentle whispering, fingers scratching or tapping, in an attempt to induce tingling sensations and pleasurable auditory-tactile synaesthesia in the user. Through these autonomous physiological experiences, the artists hope to reveal the autonomous nature of the listener’s own body, implying the listener as an already-cyborgian aspect of the hybrid system in place.

Exhibition History

Printemps Numérique – Montreal, May 29-June 3 2019. Curated by Erandy Vergara.

Taking Care – Hexagram Campus Exhibition @ Ars Electronica, Linz Sept 5-11 2018.

Credits

Sofian Audry – neural network programming and training

Erin Gee – vocal performer, audio recording and editing, electronics

Grégory Perrin – 3D printing design and laser etching