Avalon 1+2

The (golden) apple was and is highly symbolic in many cultures: be it as a symbol for eternal youth, eternal life, for love, fertility, paradise and the fall of man, and most recently as an “item” in the popular game Minecraft. The word “Avalon” has many meanings, but here it refers to the island of Avalon (Gallic-Indo-Germanic abal = apple) from Celtic mythology, which was regarded as paradise.

In an indeterminate room under a blue sky, we circle around two faceless avatars with a golden apple in the middle. Like in a surreal dream, we find ourselves in an endless loop in which the figures display a strange behaviour. Everything seems to revolve around this apple, which in the end remains out of reach for everyone.

1+2: Both videos show the same scene, but from different angles.

This video installation is modified site-specifically. The idea is that the virtual space shows the immediate exhibition environment.

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Post Mortem

2023, video with sound, 2:40 min

“(…) It is difficult to define the spatial dimensions of memory. It is there, the room of my childhood, which I am still tidying and which is still dying, at the same time as its inhabitants, – their mortal shell.. (…)” Tadeusz Kantor

Many of our efforts are aimed at overcoming death, be it out of medical, scientific, philosophical or religious motivation. What is not yet possible in reality is all the more lived out in artistic fiction. What-if scenarios are thought through to the end with the growing realisation that nothing good would come of it. In the style of Tadeusz Kantor’s “Dead Class” and his theatre of death, I bring a school class back to life post mortem.

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The attractive range of AI-supported applications is on the rise. Memorabilia photos are brought “to life” and you can put any sentence you want into the mouths of the depicted.

Why do we do this? Because it is possible? Because it supposedly helps us remember people better? Is that so? Or are we creating something else – something new? Something uncanny? Doesn’t this rather alienate us from the remembered person?

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ChatGPT @ Uncanny Valley

What ChatGPT has to say about the “Uncanny Valley”.

What or who is ChatGPT? I asked “him” this question, to which “he” replied the following:

“I am an artificial intelligence model trained by OpenAI. My answers are based on the information I recorded during my training process. During this training, I was fed an enormous amount of text from a variety of sources, including books, journal articles, news reports and scientific studies. In this way I was able to develop a broad understanding of many different topics and areas of expertise(…). However, it is important to note that I am not able to gather my own experience and that my answers may not always be complete or 100% accurate. My answers should always be used as a source of information and not as definitive expert advice.”

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A golden apple floats through the air. Its shiny surface reflects places and people. Is this paradise?

Site specific installation.

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Sandbox is on the one hand a sandy playground for children, on the other hand a term originating from software development for an “isolated area within which any action has no effect on the external environment”. (Wikipedia)

We are sitting in a large virtual sandbox that is anything but isolated. There are many toys in it that we don’t know what they are for. And new ones are added every day. We explore them playfully and in the process we come up with ideas – good or bad….

One such toy is Dall-e 2, one of the most celebrated AIs of 2022, which can create realistic images and even artwork from a text-based description in natural language. This creative act is new and unique, and must be judged as the next stage of evolution.

The works Dall-e generates are almost perfect, and yet she generates strangely disturbing outputs in response to seemingly innocuous keywords. It begs the question, is this the toy we would give our children?

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Deep Paula

“People take photos of each other to prove that they really exist” sang the Goldene Zitronen (German Punk band) in 1994. Today we know that photos prove nothing because they can be manipulated very easily.

And yet – our relationship to our own image is ambivalent: Selfies bear witness to the fact that we were at grandma’s birthday or on the Eiffel Tower, and at the same time we can manipulate our portrait photo beyond recognition with just one click. The technical possibilities are endless and are becoming more and more perfect thanks to Deep Learning and thus AI-supported applications.

In this work, we are confronted with an old photograph that has been manipulated with the help of artificial intelligence. The girl in the photograph seems very much alive and authentic. Do we feel closer to her? Is the illusion convincing?

What becomes of our faulty memories when it gives way to an artificial liveliness? Doesn’t this illusion rather contribute to forgetting the last bit of the real human being? And would “Paula” have liked what we do with her memory?

Music: AI-generated

A survey is part of this work:

Would you consider bringing a photo of a deceased loved one to “life” using an AI application? Yes? / No?

analogue real-time visualisation of the survey in the exhibition Uncanny Valley, New Gallery in the Höhmannhaus, Augsburg 2023

“Paula’s” real portrait photo can be found in the work Below the Surface (Book Object).

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Conditio Humana II

Following on from the work Conditio Humana I, the question of what the conditio humana is is continued here. Another aspect, in my opinion, is the ability of absolute body control. As distinct from artificial intelligence, it is physicality in combination with emotion and elegance.

In this work, complex human movements in the form of a dance are contrasted with the humanoid robot HRP-4C, as it was presented to the world public in 2010.

Dancer: Dominik Feistmantl

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Conditio Humana I

The conditio humana refers to the conditions or circumstances of being human in general. What makes a human being a human being? This question is explored here by an AI in a monologue. One often cited aspect is language, which distinguishes us from animals. But what is the conditio humana that distinguishes us from an artificial intelligence?

The starting point for this work was a report on the radio about a new milestone in the development of artificial intelligence. In 2019, researchers had succeeded for the first time in developing an AI that won in poker against five real professional players.

The special thing about poker is the complexity of strategy calculation, because – unlike in chess, for example – the information is incomplete (hidden hand) and the opponents act unpredictably (concealing one’s own hand and constantly changing strategy in response to opponents). At the same time, the AI must also deceive the opponent in order to win.
All in all, this demands special skills from the AI that catapult it to the next evolutionary level.

If an AI had its own consciousness, what would it do with this ability?

Dancer: Dominic Feistmantl

Premiere: Façade projection in Buenos Aires / Argentina on December 17 2022

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It sounds like the short form of mother, but this is Google’s new AI Multitask Unified Model – “MUM” for short – which has been consistently learning since 2021 what the intentions are behind our questions, no matter what language we speak. This enables it to answer even faster and more precisely. MUM knows what we want. We can ask her anything.

An organic something, similar to an eye, scans the surroundings like a surveillance camera. It is MUM. A surveillance monitor is reflected in her “eye”. It is footage of me and with me as a mother who accompanies her children with the camera – or better: monitors them? Are we similar?

With every search query, MUM learns to understand us better. Will she soon know more about us than we know about ourselves? What is she? Mother or monster?

“Secretly, we are all just looking for a higher authority.
Someone to tell us what the hell to do.”

Süddeutsche Zeitung, Update für die Übermutter vom 29.8.2021
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