To put it mildly, the everyday material we call glass offers a fantastical design language. Libensky and Brychtova got it. But set that aside for a few moments. Let me start again.
I’ve spent a lot my life being a non-human. For me it was a quietly crushing illness that strangled me and reduced my senses by two that defined my experience as such. It was a scarring experience of deprivation and forced personality. At the same time, many people continue suffering under the bigotry revolving around identity issues related to poverty, race, and sexuality. In all cases we have a large part of the public that is unable to absorb the fact that people are not all the same. Those folks respond to anything outside of their experience with fear, anger and derision. So, for now it’s a bit of speculative fiction, but one hopes that we will simply recognize personhood and honor that everyone exhibiting it deserves dignity, control over their own lives(healthcare) and privacy. We can hope and we can struggle for that day when disagreement over what we are is over. We can hope. And then, emerging from stage left, human invented, Super Intelligent Machine Minds will be there to say “Hold my beer.”
People who downplay Artificial Intelligence are failing to understand that it isn’t going to change the world. AI is going to change what we are. The divisions it will sow will overtake all others as it adds a new branch to the evolutionary tree, leaving homo sapiens behind for whatever synthetic descriptors we choose. That is going to happen. The questions that will come to matter, I expect, will regard how much of and what parts of our historic humanity we desire to maintain. And, of course, in the near term, who gets to remain human and who doesn’t.
There was a moment in my life, after almost two decades of not being a human, when Stanislav Libensky’s “Red Pyramid” became the entire universe. It seized my attention and mercifully took me out of the tight, dim asylum of illness. Instead, I was captured by the optical gravity of that sculpture. It had an absolute weight to it that seemed immoveable in time and space. Just thundering with mystery. That is what got me. The unanswered question. Maybe the unanswerable question. Either way I had a feeling of relief.
Since then, a great deal of my life and mind have been turned toward the design language that the optical qualities of glass speak in. While Libensky’s work embodied mystery and dazzled with geometric paradoxes, my own work began to link the medium’s visual traits with cosmology and futurism. And then, like a reflection, back again to the creative minds that will be expanding into and shaping that future. A.I.
Code is the word for the dialectic part of information systems. It is the eternal surfer riding the evolving waves of physical systems on which it is expressed, from crude counting machines to quantum bits. Code and those physical systems are all patterns. Figuratively, my works deal in patterns. Sometimes of a singular mood. Sometimes of multiple, conflicting patterns interrupting one another in an asymmetry that represents dynamic struggle. As our real-world information systems evolve, their power to answer questions grow. In fact, we envision them not only answering questions we are incapable of answering, but making the leap into novel inquiries of their own. We’re getting awfully close, then, to self-consciousness. Thinking, reflecting minds.
As artists, how might we express notional facts? Thought. Mystery. Clarity. Self. Here, we return to the design language of glass. Refraction. Opacity. Transparency. Reflection. They lend themselves naturally to these intangible things. This might all seem unimportant other than the fact that we are going there. Machine minds will be advanced thinkers, capable of surpassing us and having opinions about us. At the same time, some humans will undoubtedly choose to merge (or submerge) with these technologies in attempts to augment themselves and/or compete with our superior creation. Whatever future we have will not be human in the way that we are. I spent decades without two of my senses and inundated by a feeling of non-humanity. I am fascinated with the machine personalities that will arise and with what those of us who augment will become. I have no definitive opinion of whether this will be good or bad. So, the figurative language of my works, aside from the glass qualities, reflect the range of possibilities from dire to optimistic.
Matt Vinci 2023