Academy of Fine Arts Leipzig
In cooperation with Academy of Transcultural Exchange (AtA), DFG-Research Network "Gender, Media and Affect", netzforma* e.V.
This project is realized with the support of the Support Office of HGB Leipzig
Syed Mustafa Ali, Tegan Bristow, Ashleigh Cassemere-Stanfield, Filipa César, Danielle Coleman, Dreaming Beyond AI (Buse Çetin & Sarah Diedro), Paul Feigelfeld, Radhika Gajjala, Maya Indira Ganesh, Neema Githere, Orit Halpern, Tung Hui-Hu, Petja Ivanova, MELT (Ren Loren Britton & Isabel Paehr), Luiza Prado de O. Martins, The Underground Division (Femke Snelting & Jara Rocha), Varia, Joana Varon, Whose Knowledge, more t.b.a.
Organized by Katrin Köppert, Nelly Yaa Pinkrah, Francesca Schmidt and Pinar Tuzcu
The conference will be held in english.
In this conference, we aim to understand whether it is possible to embrace Artificial Intelligence despite its controversial application and employment in today’s digitized society. By looking at the limits and at times inaccessible promises of this technology, this conference explores the impossible possibilities of AI that go beyond the understanding and blunt imitation of pure cognition. It aims at continuing and opening up discussions that explore AI as an embodied experience, as a sensual, magical, mysterious, poetic technology, a technology of futures, while keeping in mind that this technology does not only reveal the inequality and injustice embedded in digital and social codes; it is also an experimental attempt, a lab, that is enthusiastic about discovering and envisioning the possibilities of a decolonial, queer-feminist, capitalist-critical and ecologically networked society.
In the age of Artificial Intelligence, on any given day, at some point most definitely, the Future has died.
The Future, with capital F seems to be perfectly synchronized, in line and aligned with the global mode of technological production. In this kind of Future in a hyper networked and digitized society, we witness new modes of extraction, monopolizations, surveillance; new types of environmental harm and damages as well as new codes of discriminations and exclusions which bring more climate change-induced provincialization, more competition and individualism. Not only does this model of Future not provide enough space for the many(-folded), its pretension lies in the misreading of the concept itself. Because in contrast to its usual connotation, the Future does not necessarily and always indicate a tomorrow or far away. But, as Michelle M. Wright and Rasheedah Phillips brilliantly show in their works, it is about a radical re-thinking of time and experiencing of temporalities that gives way to a broader and better understanding of stories, past and present, of todays, of tomorrows, of in-betweens (Fred Moten).
futures – without capital F
and in their plural form – always also happen now.
In this conference, we aim to understand whether it is possible to embrace Artificial Intelligence despite its controversial application and employment in today’s digitized society. By looking at the limits and at times inaccessible promises of this technology, this conference explores the impossible possibilities of AI that go beyond the understanding and blunt imitation of pure cognition. It aims at continuing and opening up discussions with the prominent experts in this field to explore AI as an alternative to mainstream understanding of Future, and rethink it as an embodied experience, as a sensual, magical, mysterious, poetic technology, a technology of futures while keeping in mind that this technology does not only reveal the inequality and injustice embedded in the digital and social codes; it is also an experimental attempt, a lab, that is enthusiastic about discovering the possibilities of a decolonial, queer-feminist, capitalist-critical and ecologically networked society.
For this, however, we need to declare the death or the end of the Future in the first place.
With the Impossible Possibilities we think AI with Kara Keeling. We are concerned with the presence of AI, with what goes beyond its expression and produces a surplus that cannot be seen or understood, but is nevertheless present: "Whatever escapes recognition, whatever escapes meaning and valuation, exists as an impossible possibility within our shared reality, however one describes that reality, and therefore threatens to unsettle, if not destroy, the common sense on which that reality relies for its coherence." (2019: 83). What is impossible to recognize is the possibility of AI. For what defies re-cognition exists in a world that is real but not fed into the normative discourse of AI as predictive computation. With this conference, we turn our attention to paradox as a condition of existence that has the potential to shake the common sense of AI.
Impossible Possibilities does not stand for exposing the binary in the conundrum but stands for an invitation for exploring such a paradox productively.
Thus, we are not so much interested in trying to define or examine AI through the lens of each diametrically opposed concept (McHardy et al. 2022: 17). Instead, the juxtaposition points to what runs counter to certain assumptions in unexpected ways. Precisely because what is possible cannot be known. AI, in our understanding, operates in the realm of the unexpected and unbelievable, too. We want to discuss AI against the fixations as either dystopian or utopian. To this end, we are organizing scientific-artistic panels and educational-political workshops whose goal is to dwell in paradox.
That is, to stay with the impossibilities and interrogate them as possibilities without depending and relying on an accelerated Future we always urgently have to react to. However, for, as Indigenous scholar Kyle Whyte writes, the discourse of urgency is antithetical to the marginalized (2019). It takes slow science (Stengers 2018) and education policy, each in its own way, to address the power of the technological not in its media upheavals but long continuities. For the future, for some, has died every day, in the slowness of repetitive definitions, for example, of AI as the story of postmodernity. Therefore, what is needed is a "recursive conception of media that itself defines the conditions of possibility for communicative action, for politics, and for culture" (Sharma 2022: 126), in slowness and with the capacity to endure paradox.
While taking (back) our time.
Inasmuch as the temporalities between sciences, art, and political education are increasingly converging, science is more and more structured according to daily political trends, art hardly exists anymore without waves of scandalization, and educational policy seems to be synchronized with cultural education, it is the concern of the conference to bring the three fields closely together in order to practice slowness and contradiction together. The premise is to recognize that the place of discussion of AI does not reside in any of the fields alone. AI knowledge goes beyond academia, but it is also used and produced in exhibitions, cultural projects, and coding workshops. In this sense, the conference embraces all these fields and claims to be an interdisciplinary gathering. Not only because the conference takes place at an art university, but because part of the conference are practical workshops in the field of political education. The hands-on perspective is more than just the Maker Space. It is about bricolage, sampling, applying and coding alternative ways of imagining, understanding and making futures through technology in the best sense of a virtuality that is accessible for racialized and/or queer and/or trans* people and trans*feminists and/or disabled people and/or people from marginalized social backgrounds.