Flash Art 316 – Issue September/October 2017
Flash Art 316 serves as a window on developments in the field of artificial intelligence (AI). It therefore sits at the intersection of several contiguous discourses, among them contemporary art and new media studies, as well as computer and social science. Our ongoing cession of identity to nonhuman agents and intelligence demands new structures of analysis. This edition divides its treatment of AI according to theories of utopia and dystopia, of existence and consciousness, and of gender and identity. For each of our featured artists AI serves as a problematic –– oscillating between visibility and invisibility –– that articulates the struggle to represent our changing selves through often hybrid approaches to new technologies.
How does art reveal the cyborgian condition? What happens when robots get tired of our oppression? How might automation reduce cultural diversity? And must we fear that which is merely the most recent development in algorithmic human thinking? Contributors to this issue — scholars, writers and researchers from the fields of data analysis, systems theory and digital culture — seek to address these and many other questions.
Edward A. Shanken triangulates the work of artists Leonel Moura and Stelarc into observations on human-robot interaction. Katherine Cross exposes the racially and gender-motivated bigotry hardwired into the nascent AI “service industry.” Steve Kado questions whether, by fuelling the AI project, we are really asking machines to change our minds. Lev Manovich sheds light on AI’s role in our cultural lives through insights into his ongoing analysis of big cultural data and global cultural trends.
Against a backdrop in which AI’s implications are being contested by Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg, our final word with Ars Electronica’s artistic director Gerfried Stocker cautions us not to leave developments in machine learning up to engineers and private companies, but rather to consider them in relation to society as a whole.