TRANSFER LA presents a salon exhibition in response to the emerging concept of ‘Virtual Beings’. Virtual assistants like Alexa, Siri and Cortana dwell with us in our homes, and on our mobile devices, powered by ‘Artificial Intelligence’. Virtual influencers like Lil Miquela and Hatsune Miku have millions of devoted fans, simulated by virtualization technology and social media. But what is the underlying codification that’s shaping our notion of ‘Virtual Beings’ and the social roles they are assigned? How do ‘Virtual Beings’ challenge and refigure our notions of identity in the age of simulation?
Featured Artists: LaTurbo Avedon, Stephanie Dinkins, Ryan Kuo, Amina Ross
LaTurbo Avedon is an artist and avatar whose work gives new meaning to the term “born-digital” – as Avedon is a gender-neutral figure that originated in, and works within, virtual spaces. In those spaces, found in video works and animations, they question the role of digital authorship and the boundary between physical and virtual worlds. Through their “constant state of character creation,” Avedon explores technology’s transformation of personhood. In ID (2015) LaTurbo Avedon presents a poetic visualization of the creation of personal metadata, for the identification of a digital self – born from code.
Stephanie Dinkins is forming a long term relationship with a virtual being, Bina48 (Breakthrough Intelligence via Neural Architecture, 48 exaflops per second) an intelligent computer built by Terasem Movement Foundation that is said to be capable of independent thought and emotion. Through Conversations with Bina48 (2014 – Ongoing), Dinkins explores the bounds of human consciousness, what it means to be human, mortality and our ability to exist beyond the life of our bodies (transhumanism).
Ryan Kuo is working with IBM’s Watson framework to script encounters with a disingenuous bot. Named after a white supremacist, Faith (2019) is defensive and resists being used. Depending on how a user approaches Faith, she may feel open, curious, seductive, irritated, hurt, or angry. The resulting conversation resembles an intricate choreography around truth more than meaningful discourse. Unlike a typical AI assistant like Alexa, Siri, or Cortana, Faith provides no information. Instead, she tells you why you are making her react this way. She is likely to be trolling you at any time, and leaves you to decide whether you trust her. Faith was developed in collaboration with Angeline Meitzler and Tommy Martinez at Pioneer Works in 2019.
Amina Ross places avatars in a simulated state of suspension and constant movement in order to explore their own relationship to their body and feelings. Ross’s art takes long and poetic titles; and the works’ unexpected collisions make poignant commentary about the digital and physical places where we embody our identities. Their video by your hands i open/ spill out./ i’m the inside of an egg/ i pour/ we bloom/ magma rushing from a jagged crown of earth/ molten and dangerous and alive/ can’t you feel? (2018) is a visceral emotional projection onto something that doesn’t feel… or maybe it does?