EXO-Stential - AI Musings on the Posthuman
Harshit Agrawal’s Solo Exhibition Curated by Myna Mukherjee
11th September – 30th September, 2021.
Curator’s Note by Myna Mukherjee
A new form of life is emerging. We are building a God, something that transcends humankind. Artificial Intelligence is rapidly reshaping the world. It’s going to be everywhere all the time. It’s going to hear everything. It’s going to be connected to every single camera on the planet. AI is going to be the most important technology in history of the planet. Mentions of artificial intelligence have become ubiquitous in the healthcare and patient care industry, financial & loan markets, policing and criminal justice system, and of course the gaming and entertainment world.
Artificial intelligence has sparked more discussions about the interplay between human beings and machines than perhaps any previous technological development. In fact there’s no telling how profound the impact of artificial intelligence on social justice frameworks could be, there is untold potential at the intersection of social work and AI.
That’s why this is the most important conversation of our time.
Will humans actually benefit from AI? AI will ultimately either be the best thing ever to happen to humanity or the worst. If we look at what AI is mostly being developed for; it’s killing, spying, and brainwashing. Computer algorithms can reveal our political views or sexual orientation. Privacy is gone.
AI has created new forms of oppression, and in many cases disproportionately affects the most powerless and vulnerable. We as humanity are about to go into a very dark time. Cyber-attacks, fake news, totally automated AI weapons. What we are seeing now is like a train hurtling down a dark tunnel and it looks like we’re sleeping at the wheel.
As a curator what strikes me most about Harshit’s work is that it consciously engages with this inevitable techno-centric reality we live in, rather than being simply sucked into it. AI’s usage in art elevates it from being a tool of utility and function to being a conspirator in the artist’s imagination, and the pursuit of aesthetic ideas. It allows us to witness how humans can work with machines to enhance their creativity, rather than allow their creativity to be replaced by machine labor.
Since inception, Harshit’s work with AI has engaged with contemplations of social, cultural and ethical issues, with it’s unique ability to work with large amounts of data and act as a conduit to explore internal biases at an individual and societal level. Further he has consistently used a rootedness in Indian particularity to question the absolutist Eurocentric philosophical outlook that has informed the development of AI. How can AI help us stay sensitive to the relations of power that exist in the real global world? How can we use it creatively in collaboration with marginal cultures towards representation and avoid appropriation? Can we use AI to transcend the limitations of gender? These are fascinating lines of inquiry within the show that we are excited to explore. In the artist’s words “Can I use this body of work to offer alternate narratives and immersive embodiments of deep rooted sociological divides, of seemingly universal perceptions of themes like gender, of our sense of authorship and agency- through and with AI? I find this space of engagement with the machine fascinating to work with.”
Finally, is AI (Artificial Intelligence) art any good? Is it truly the future of Contemporary art? Does AI re-conceive the human imagination or ready us for its end? Is AI competition or collaborator? Does AI blur the definition of the ‘artist’? Does AI perpetuate bias or become a new lens to understand it? EXO-Stential – AI Musings on the Posthuman, offers a deep dive and contemplation of this emergent ontology.
It gives me great pleasure and pride to introduce you to India’s first solo AI art show. Welcome.