Call and Response explores how we speak to our machines and how our machines speak through us.
The pulse of communication, measured in clicks, clips, and sound bites, makes it difficult to discern what is being said and to whom. Much of what we express through technology is conveyed by lines of code, but their impact on how our utterances move through space is often opaque. How do we parse these substrates of communication?
One way is to peel back technological paraphernalia to their most basic processes: input / output, post / comment, call / response. In the call and response, one voice addresses many, and many voices respond as one, creating a circuit between the participants through which knowledge and experience have been shared for centuries. Each artist in this exhibition explores this circuitry and how it moves through our technologically mediated present.
Ornella Fieres uses data analysis to transform found mid-twentieth century photographs into frequencies rendered as flares of light that are inextricably bound to their analogue source. When a computer translates this data back into an image, the original photograph echoes through the digital recast. Fieres pairs these photographs with video montages in which early television’s fascination with its own apparatuses — tools for capturing and broadcasting images — become both the subject and agent of their own remediation.
This excavation of the past continues through a series by Salome Asega. Beginning with a box of photographs belonging to her grandparents, Asega encodes the memories, locations, popular culture, etc., that get passed from one generation to the next into her family archive. She uses digital collage as an interface between intimate and global histories, which she then returns to her grandmother as postcards, reasserting their physical and personal context.
Sophia Brueckner also examines intimacy, in this case one drawn between herself and the computer. Inseparable from computers since the age of three, this series of programs and videos represent a period of personal disenchantment and later reconciliation with code. She sings C++ instructions that tell a program to run the recording of her instructions, creates a generative software that sings its own code, and captures her own frustrated breakdown by a dictation machines as it fails to understand her. Through moments of poetic alignment, cacophonous rupture, and the steady hum in-between, Brueckner explores the power and limitations of our increasing enmeshment with machines.
Taking this enmeshment further, Sams Lavigne investigates the ways artificial intelligence and natural language processing are integrating into social, economic, and even biological systems, thus enabling machines to speak to and through humans. He aims a machine learning system at gallery visitors which demands they perform movements and mimic behaviors for its benefit. The computer simultaneously learns from and judges the performers’ choreography, blurring the boundaries between participation, surveillance, and control.