Video, 2:00 min.
Courtesy: Sascha Pohflepp
The central element of Sascha Pohflepp’s work, Recursion, is a text about humankind, generated by an artificial intelligence (AI). The AI was primed with a wide range of texts from encyclopedic articles on human biology and societal forms to works on psychology, philosophy, and pop culture—including full Wikipedia articles on concepts of humanity, consciousness, economics, emotion, science, technology, the human body, and human behavior, and more specifically, Sigmund Freud’s Civilization and Its Discontents, Joni Mitchell’s California, The Beatles’ Here Comes the Sun, G.W.F. Hegel’s The Phenomenology of Spirit, Mary Douglas’ Purity and Danger, and Brian Eno’s Spider and I. The AI was then instructed to compose a text beginning with the word “human,” which is read aloud in the video by performance artist Erika Ostrander. In this way, Sascha Pohflepp creates a feedback loop between us and the artificial other. We cannot escape the question of whether or not, to quote Benjamin Bratton, “...the real uncanny valley [is] one in which we see ourselves through the eyes of an AI ‘other.’”