Curated by Mohammad Salemy and a team of researchers from The New Centre for Research & Practice, Artificial Cinema is a large collaborative effort which explores the history of science fiction cinema and its potentials for arriving at a synthesized vision for the future of art. The exhibition traces a trajectory away from “Anthropocinema” — human-centered cinema — towards more open and complex collaborations between humans and machines. The project is also an exploration of the connection between painting’s artificiality, its history as an epistemic medium, and the exhibition’s theme of machinic learning and machinic vision. Initially, the curatorial team chose forty-two science fiction films for inclusion in the project, and then worked collectively to create a questionnaire which asked participants to rate and analyze the films. The questions addressed both the films’ content as well as their political and aesthetic dimensions, focusing on 2001: A Space Odyssey, Blade Runner, The Matrix and Automata. Ninety eight of the one hundred fifty artists, thinkers, writers and curators who were initially invited to the project accessed the online platform to watch the selected films and respond to the questionnaire.
At TranzitDisplay, the first gallery showcases a multi-channel video installation featuring the seventeen most frequently cited films by the participants. The front of the second gallery serves as the projection surface for the project’s algorithmically composed film. The process of composing the film is made possible using multiple software programs which were collaboratively planned and later materialized and built into a logical engine by Tony Yanick, the project’s algorithm architect. Yanick has been developing an engine for automating visual archiving of movies through machine learning, machine vision and computational logic. His system constructs edits to movies through a creative synthesis of collected human data and available machine-vision algorithms. Through Yanick’s platform, participants become the enabling condition that at once bound and force a means of expression to a non-human form of filmmaking.
Yanick’s film is constructed using several internal and external data sources. His algorithmic film processing and montage includes several steps. Initially, the algorithms cast large nets to capture semantic data about the films from the information provided by the participants, the films’ published scripts, spoken dialogues and digital subtitles. These data sets also include information about the films from the Internet Movie Database and the Rotten Tomatoes web site. Other algorithms isolate and edit each film several times based on the same criteria used to collect data from participants and in the same order as that of the questions included in the questionnaire. The final stage in the process involves the composition of a single channel film. Within the logic of this last algorithm rest the expressed subjectivities of the participants. The response-based selections are montaged in the multiple eyes that the machine augments to view and review the total material of the films. It filters and montages the edited scenes from each film as well as those selected specifically by the participants, according to their semantic relevance to the responses.
The back space of the second gallery consists of an installation by the Amsterdam-based painter Sam Samiee. The installation includes a mural and reproductions of several of his iPad paintings. Samiee has also selected works by Abdul Sharif Baruwa, Lou Cantor, Johann Groebner, Kareem Lotfy and Lisa Ruyter for inclusion in his installation. Samiee’s focus in this exhibition stems from his continuing research into the history of painting and modern psychoanalysis as well as their overlap with cybernetic theory. At the centre of the installation is Jacques Lacan’s lecture titled, “Cybernetics and Psychoanalysis: Or the Nature of Language”1 in which the philosopher insists on the externality of language and the centrality of mathematics to both the meaninglessness of the world and humans’ misguided commitment to understand and symbolize it in their own terms. Samiee’s installation questions the grammatological totality of contemporary art. He breaks away from the flat and mechanical geometry of painting as the normative link between the actual and virtual, constructing a new heterodimensional artificiality out of the possibilities offered by the gallery space. The installation proposes a cinematically conscious role for the future of painting as the visual and experiential dimension of thought in light of the emergence of digitality and artificial intelligence.
Participants: Derrick Adams, Kristen Alvanson, Serafín Alvarez, Xenia Benivolski, Kamrooz Aram, Julieta Aranda, Nathan Athan, Nick Axel, Stephanie Bailey, Marian Penner Bancroft, Amanda Beech, Jessie Beier, Chris Bogia, Eli Bornowsky, Paul Boshaers, Kai Bosworth, Post Brothers, Eduardo Cachucho, Steve Calvert, Lou Cantor, Anil Bawa Cavia, Mi You, David Cheong, Ali Cherri, Ignacio Corral, Manuel Correa, Baris Dogrusoz, Olivia Dunbar, Eshrat Erfanian, Raymond Gemayel, Leo Goldsmith, Johann Groebner, Lawrence abu Hamdan, Helen Hester, David Hilmer, Juliana Huxtable, Amal Issa, Victoria Ivanova, Georgina Jackson, Juliet Jacobson, Stanya Kahn, Eyvind Kang, Eyvind Kang, Ed Keller, Nora Khan, Adam Kleinman, Trent Knebel, Katerina Kolozova, Prem Krishnaumurthy, Leopold Lambert, Jeremy Lecomte, Justin Lieberman, Duane Linklater, Robert Linsley, Pedro Neves Marques, Ann McCoy, Andrew McLuhan, Renata Lemos Morais, Gean Moreno, Arjuna Neuman, Ivan Niccolai, Mani Nilchiani, Rebecca Norton, Benjamin Noys, Jeanine Oleson, Rivers Plasketes, Kristina Lee Podesva, Judy Radul, Raha Raissnai, Rachael Rakes, Anahita Razmi, Patricia Reed, Patricia Reis, Judith Rodenbeck, Rory Rowan, Lisa Ruyter, Samuel Sackeroff, Nicolas Sassoon, Aaron Schuster, Martha Schwendener, Colin Self, Ashkan Sepahvand, Paul Anthony Smith, Patryck Stasieczek, Kate Steinmann, David Andrew Tasman, Zin Taylor, Althea Thauberger, Troy Conrad Therrien, Kika Thorne, Tom Trevor, Rambod Vala, Natalia Valencia, Erik VVysocan, Andrew Weiner, Matthew Weinstein, Ingo Wilkins, Peter Wolfendale, Brian Kuan Wood
Films included in the visual archive in Gallery 1: Alien (1979) • Alphaville (1965) • Automata • Blade Runner (1997) • Children of Men (2006) • Dune (1984) • La Jetee (1962) • The Matrix (1999) • Metropolis (1927) • Solaris (1972) • Space is the Place (1974) • The Thing • Thx 1138 (1971) • Videodrome (1983) • Under the Skin (2013) • Welcome II the Terrordome (1995)
Films included in the project not included in the visual archive in Gallery 1: 2046 (2004) • The Abyss (1989) • Alphaville (1965) • Automata (2014) • Barbarella (1968) • Colossus: The Forbin Project (1970) • The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951) • Event Horizon (1997) • Ex Machina (2015) • Forbidden Planet (1956) • Gattaca (1997) • Idiocracy (2006) • Liquid Sky (1982) • Under the Skin (2013) • Logan’s Run (1976) • The Matrix (1999) • Metropolis (1927) • Moon (2009) • The New Barbarians (1983) • The Parallax View (1974) • Phase IV (1974) • Primer (2004) • Prometheus (2012) • Sleep Dealer (2008) • Sleeper (1973) • Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979) • Terminator 2: Judgement Day (1991) • The Thing (1982) • Twelve Monkeys (1995) • Vanishing Waves (2012) • Zardoz (1974)
Curatorial team: Lou Cantor • Manuel Correa • Quinn Dougherty• Jake Hamilton • Zves Konstantinos • Olivia Leiter • Mohammad Salemy • Sam Samiee • Joshua Westerman • Tony Yanick