Deep Paradise

Startexperimental

The apple was and is highly symbolic in many cultures: be it as a symbol of eternal youth, eternal life, love, fertility, paradise and the fall of mankind.

In this installation, a golden apple floats in the air like a fixed star. Familiar places are reflected on its shiny surface. How are people doing there and in the world?
In contrast, the two-dimensional portraits in this landscape appear strange. Who are these people? The Holy Family? Our neighbours? They never existed, but are the outputs of an artificial intelligence. We live in a time of upheaval. New technologies give us the feeling that we are increasingly losing control over truth and lies, over good and evil.
Is this paradise on earth?

The apple hides a secret inside, because there is a small star made up of 5 seeds. It reminds us that our actions determine whether we come a little closer to “paradise on earth”.

Site-specific installation.

Deep Paradise @ St.Konrad / Augsburg-Bärenkeller, 2023, video with sound, 6:07 min

Szene aus einem Video der Künstlerin Erika Kassnel-Henneberg

Avalon 1+2

Startexperimental

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.

Videokunst von Erika Kassnel-Henneberg

Post Mortem

Startexperimental

“(…) 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

An abandoned house*. The rooms testify that people once lived here. There, reality and fiction, present and past merge with each other. As if in a nightmare, we rush through the rooms and are repeatedly confronted with an old class photo. On the back of the real photo is written: “Born in 1911”. Who were these people? Does anyone still remember them? I lend them my eyes and let them come alive again post mortem. An artificial liveliness – a lifeline against oblivion?

In the midst of these children I (Erika) sit as a link between yesterday and today and think aloud about the fear of disappearance – or can being forgotten also be a grace? The children’s song “When and where will we meet again and be glad?” must remain unanswered.

* This house is the “House of New Realities” – a temporary collective artwork at Bäckergasse 4 – a kind of pop-up museum, which was brought to life by Bluespots Productions in the summer of 2023 as part of the Augsburg Peace Festival. I modified the installation “Post Mortem” for this location. Thus, that one has now itself become a memorandum for those who once animated this place.

Puppet

Startexperimental

2023, video with sound, 3:15 min

The tempting offer of AI-supported applications is increasing. With their help, memory photos are brought “to life”.
Does this bring us closer to the person we remember? Or are we creating something else – something new? Something uncanny?

“Anna” really did exist once. A caption on the back of this photograph tells us that it was addressed to someone who was supposed to remember his “little friend Hela”.

Music: AI-generated

Polaroid, Screenshot aus der Videoarbeit Sandbox

Sandbox

Startexperimental

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?

Deep Paula

Startexperimental

“People take photos of each other- to prove that they really existed” from: Menschen machen Fotos gegenseitig. Song text. Die Goldenen Zitronen (German Punk band) 1994

Our relationship with our own image is ambivalent: selfies show that we were at grandma’s birthday party, and at the same time we can manipulate our portrait photo beyond recognition with a single click. The technical possibilities are endless and are becoming ever more perfect thanks to AI-supported applications.

In this work, we are confronted with an old photo that has been “brought to life” with the help of artificial intelligence. Does the girl seem authentic? Do we feel closer to her? Is the illusion convincing? What becomes of faulty memory when it gives way to artificial vividness?

Doesn’t this illusion rather contribute to forgetting the last remnants of the memory of the real person?

And would “Paula” have liked what we do with her memory?

Music: AI-generated

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

Survey:

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

Conditio Humana II

Startexperimental

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

Supermother

Startexperimental

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

Memento

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).

Dancer: Dominik Feistmantl

Phantom

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 hasn’t had the heart to do it yet. Doesn’t this prove that all our efforts for a little immortality are in vain?

Now I hold it in my hands and wonder, if someone could tell the stories of these people, would these memories be true? They would be remembered stories or told memories of stories of memories….

Science has taught us that the subconscious manipulates 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?

“People take photos of each other
To prove that they really existed
To make sure they are there
People take photos of each other
Believing that those moments
Would stay alive for all time”

Excerpt from: Menschen Machen Fotos gegenseitig, Die goldenen Zitronen (Songtext)