AI Ancestral Immediacies: Alterlife/Afterlife

On Technologies, Consciousness, and Non/Being with Screenings, Performances, Conversations, Keynotes, Installations

Haus der Kulturen der Welt, John-Foster-Dulles-Allee 10, 10557 Berlin, Germany
May 25, 2024 7:30 pm

[Crossposted from HKW’s website]

As new media technologies such as AI (Artificial Intelligence) are increasingly driving social and environmental change, the divisions between life and non-life are undergoing recalibration. In particular the condition of life after technological ubiquity is pertinent to how our future socialities might unfold when our discarded devices seep into the fabric of the earth, emitting chemicals into the environment, and unknown substances having unknown effect on bodies and worlds. The toxicity of electronic waste seems to also permeate into our screens where deepfakes are weaponized to take on a life of their own, and face filters are implemented in a long history of hostility towards the other and the self. And yet, the idea of sentient objects and conscious machines also holds the promise of recognizing and empathizing with an absolute other, even if the full extent of its interiority remains forever unknown and irrelevant to its status as subject. It is perhaps an irony of history that the humanoid robot Sophia is the only being that has been granted citizenship rights while fully maintaining her interior opacity. From toxic exposure to e-waste, from self-conscious holograms to digital doubles of the dead still living their best lives, the normative conditions of living no longer seem to match the current proliferation of autonomous, self-conscious, and wilful social agents, of animate objects, social media profiles posting in the name of the deceased and advocacies for robot sensibilities.

Alterlife/Afterlife interrogates what it means to be alive against the backdrop of sentient, conscious, and desiring machines from the homunculus to artificial general intelligence.

It does so by taking into consideration the long history of sentient objects as well as a revision of humans and non-humans deemed as non-sentient.

Through performances, lectures, conversations, and screenings, the programme interrogates animism, anthropomorphism, and the cultural afterlives of human and non-human data. How do digital technologies that materialize in memorial sites and deadbots remediate ancient rituals of burial and acknowledgement of the dead—how do they urge us to stay alive?”

With contributions from:

Sofia Borges, Hexorcismos, Wakanyi Hoffman, Charles Mudede, Kite, Fatou Kandé Senghor, Ksenia Fedorova, MAF

Free entrance, find the full programme.