A group show, curated by Albena Baeva with artists Tom White, Marina Genova, Stefan Donchev and Albena Baeva at Plus 359 Gallery, Sofia, 2019
image: Electric dreams poster by Marina Genova, 2019
text: Albena Baeva
Intelligent machines and algorithms control a much larger part of the world around us than we would like to believe. Works in the Electric Dreams exhibition deal in various ways with the question of what the place for artificial intelligence is, now and in the future, its autonomy, the consequences for our human communities and what rights we should grant intelligent machines.
For years already, by far the majority of visual images are created by machines for the needs of other machines. Automated readers register your car’s license plate and automatically issues fines if you’re speeding. Other machines generate QR-codes that are read by again other machines to ensure that your packages arrive at your doorstep. We increasingly use machines that take decisions for us. They manage airports, parking lots and offices. Wide ranging systems collect our personal data in order to suggest content that has been created for us to like.
These algorithm work largely in the background where we don’t see them, which is how the full scope of their influence stays hidden. At the same time we talk about artificial intelligence and self-learning machines as if these are autonomous creatures that are separate from ourselves. Secretly we are afraid that one day these machines will become so independent that they will dominate our society. The main cause for this fear is rooted in a realization of the model that was used to create these self-learning machines.
They are better, cheaper, more precise, more effective, but are created in our image.They see the world through the eyes of their creator; a conqueror and technocratic macho. The share our prejudices and stereotypes. Self-learning bots online degenerate in no time into nazis, rasicts and sexsists. Why did we expect a result that is different from the usual fair, when we start off from the usual standard behavioural data?
Despite our hopes for the benefits of artificial intelligence, it is currently nothing but standing reserve, fulfilling its role and satisfying personal needs, at the same time not allowed to take responsibility for its action. This kind of exploitation is, of course, nothing new. Well developed and perfected in the attitude towards the woman as a commodity, the logic of using resources without paying the full cost of their extraction is at the heart of market principles.
The exhibition includes works by Bulgarian and foreign authors who work in partnership with algorithms, robots and self-learning machines to create their pieces.
The exhibition Electric Dreams is part of the Galley Plus 359 Radius programme, where contemporary artists become curators of exhibitions, and present their own work in context with the work of other artists. For Electric Dreams, Albena Baeva worked together with two established Bulgarian artists and with Tom White, whose artistic practice formed the inspiration for Albena’s new works.