Gaia Art Foundation has supported a new commission by the Korean-American artist Anicka Yi at the 58th Venice Biennial, May You Live in Interesting Times, curated by Ralph Rugoff. The new works, titled Biologizing the Machine (terra incognita) and Biologizing the Machine (tentacular trouble) are shown across both exhibition sites – the Arsenale and the Giardini – and contemplate how new channels of communication can be established between artificial intelligence (AI) entities and organic life forms.
In Biologizing the Machine (tentacular trouble), the artist uses a stretched leather-like kelp to create hanging incandescent sculptures that conjure up images of organisms such as human organs and insect eggs through chrysalis-like pods within which animatronic insects flutter about. The use of this material calls attention to the ecological history and exciting potential uses of algae, a powerful and shapeshifting entity comprising the largest biomass on the planet. The ground beneath evokes a swamp (not too dissimilar from the watery underbelly of Venice) from which these organisms and other primordial beings may have come.
In Biologizing the Machine (terra incognita), Yi uses soil from Venice combined with a bacteria that emits a specific smell. The hanging acrylic panels will change colours over time depending on the AI controlled temperature, light and water level. The AI entity learns to understand the smell of the bacteria in all its forms: stasis, decay and growth, amending the environment in response. The implications of this type of learning could be far-reaching, but whilst the colourful display sits within an ‘agitated symbiosis’ the mutual benefit could easily lead to unpredictable results.
May You Live In Interesting Times, La Biennale di Venezia
11 May - 24 November 2019