“People take photos of each other to prove that they really exist” sang the Golden Zitronen in 1994. Today we know that photos prove nothing because they can be manipulated very easily. And they are no longer archived in photo albums, but are stored in the cloud on unknown servers.
And yet – our relationship to our own image is ambivalent: selfies are supposed to prove that we were at grandma’s birthday or on the Eiffel Tower, and at the same time we can manipulate our face 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.
But what does it mean when we can optimise or even animate old photos? What becomes of our memories when the patina is missing and deceased people suddenly smile at us?
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? We see different forms of movement and expression until she finally even seems to be dancing. At the latest now it becomes clear how absurd it is to map standardised movements onto the portrait of an individual. And in the end, one has to ask oneself whether “Paula” would have liked what we are doing with her memory.
Does the memory of a person become superfluous when an artificial liveliness gives way to our own flawed still image in our heads?
And doesn’t this illusion rather contribute to losing the last remnants of the memory of the real person?
Following on from the work Bodytalk, the question of what the condition humana is is continued here. Another aspect of differentiation from the animal is, in my opinion, the ability of absolute body control. In demarcation to 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.
The starting point for this work was a report on the radio about a new milestone in the development of artificial intelligence. For the first time, researchers had succeeded 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.
In this work, a voice tells us that the human condition is language. Because in fact it is the AI that is speaking here, and the human being that is “physical”.
It sounds like the English short form of mother, but it is Google’s new AI Multitask Unified Model, which has been learning consistently 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. Opposite her is a real mother. Are we similar? With every search query, she learns to understand us better. Will she soon know more about us than we know about ourselves? What is she? Mother or monster?
The term homunculus (= Latin for “little man”) refers to an artificially created human being – and stands for mankind’s dream of being able to construct or design a being according to its own imagination, with the help of the latest technology. This idea has already been used in many literary works, for example in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.
Today, we are closer to this idea than ever before. In the age of Deep Learning, it is no longer alchemists or scientists, but programmers who teach artificial intelligences to generate human-like faces independently and deceptively real. Ingenious, scary or dangerous?
In this work we are confronted with a series of such artificial portraits. In a strange way, they communicate with us: their eyes seem to explore the space and their facial expressions change. Recognising faces and understanding non-verbal communication shapes us as a human species and as social beings. But how do we react when an AI tries to imitate precisely this ability? Does it want to deceive us? Communicate with us? Test us?
The basis of this work are 25 photographs in long exposure, which were taken during a dance rehearsal. Like modules, they are rearranged and repeated by me. This creates an artificial, seemingly endless dance that no longer has anything to do with the original choreography.
Following the Baroque model, beauty and death are metaphorically juxtaposed here – a vanitas dance to the transience of life. Here, the flow of time or the passing of lifetime is embodied by water, whether through the acoustic, rhythmic dripping like the ticking of a clock, or visually through the artificially slowed flow of a river.
The video is accompanied by the excerpt The Burial of the Dead from the poem The Waste Land by T.S. Eliot (1922).
A friend gave me this old album of her family. It touches me that she wanted to throw it away a long time ago. Because the people in the photos have no meaning for her, she says. But she didn’t have the heart to do it yet.
Now I hold it in my hands and ask myself, if someone could tell the stories of these people, would these memories be true? They would be told memories or remembered narratives or told narratives of narratives of memories…
Science has taught us that the subconscious puts a distortion filter over memory to make it useful to us. But if memory is distorted more and more from person to person, what comes out in the end? Would these stories therefore only be uncontrollable mirages of an inner archaic power?
For me, this photo album is proof that all our efforts for a little immortality are in vain.
Four faceless dancers perform a ghostly, seemingly endlessly repeating dance. As in a baroque painting, beauty and “the brother of sleep” (= death) are juxtaposed here in an aestheticizing manner in one composition – a memento mori – underpinned by Johann Sebastian Bach’s Kreuzstabkantate “Komm o Tod, du Schlafes Bruder” (Come, O death, thou brother of sleep).
Death is embodied in the form of impaled butterflies (= baroque symbol of death and resurrection), which, however, appear alive despite their condition.
The basis of this work are 12 photographs in long exposure. Their constructed sequence in rapid succession creates an artificial choreography that becomes increasingly distorted.
For centuries, the image of the mother has been shaped in every culture by religiously motivated ideals, of which Mary is the Western role model. She embodies male power fantasies of chastity, submissiveness, selflessness and unconditional loyalty – qualities that still shape the image of women in almost every patriarchal society today.
This image is fragile and increasingly beginning to dissolve. Women want to be self-determined. But what does it mean to be a “good” mother? Reflecting on the myth of “motherhood”…
I try on different identities like I try on clothes. They are people I knew and whose story I continue as a “descendant”. Who am I and what have they made of me? Does a part of them live on in me? For the moment of this installation, they come alive again through me.