Study In on AI + Race + Art

| Joel Stern & Thao Phan & Andrew Brooks
 + Design by Denis Grauel

Study In on AI + Race + Art

Study In On AI + Race + Art | Joel Stern & Thao Phan & Andrew Brooks

Race is often described as a social construction with material consequences or a biological fiction and a cultural identity. But such explanations do not get us very far, for race has no fixed essence and arises from processes of racial ascription that change over time. Race, as Wendy Hui Kyong Chun tells us, is a technology that is deployed to manage human difference. Like all technologies, racial logics shift and adapt over time. As racial logics shift they traverse science, biology, culture, sociality, religion, geography, and more. How are we to study a technology that is constantly shifting? To frame race as a technology invites us to reconsider the question of race, a shift from asking what race is to what race does. It also invites us to consider the conditions—historical, economic, social, political—under which this technology has been produced. In other words, how has the technology of race been differently constructed in different historical contexts? And how is race being (re)produced in the age of AI techniques?

These are some of the questions we will explore at the Study-In on AI + Race + Art.

This event takes the form of a temporary school that seeks to develop new methods and approaches to study that draw from and feed into artistic methods and strategies. We begin from the proposition that the challenge of understanding race in the contemporary moment requires responses that are equal parts creative, critical, technical, and collective. Over the course of the day, we’ll build a curriculum for future study.

The day is structured around three sessions: capture, operate, speculate. Study always continues beyond the confines of the school and so we’ll finish with a celebration that will feature performances and music and might lay the groundwork for study to continue in other places and other forms. Here’s a taste of what you can expect:

 + Diggermode (still) Joel Sherwood Spring, 2022. two-channel video installation.

Session 1: CAPTURE
Featuring Snack Syndicate and Joel Sherwood Spring
Data capture. Colonial capture. Value extraction. Dispossession.

In this session we’ll consider how race functions as a technology and what race does in relation to the production and reproduction of colonial capitalism. We’ll consider the role of race as a technique of capture that underpins the extraction of value. And we’ll consider how historical logics of racialisation are reproduced in AI and machine learning technologies. The session will feature a screening of Joel Sherwood Spring’s video work Diggermode

 + Visualisation of how "using machine learning to reduce toxicity online" works created by Perspective API

Session 2: OPERATE
Featuring Thao Phan and André Dao
Classification. Recognition. Machine learning operations. Legal operations.

Automated technologies are increasingly defined by logics of operationalism that foreground action. Operation involves the displacement of representation – a shift from the semantic to the technical. In this session we’ll look at how AI and machine learning are reconfiguring our understandings of race and racism by looking at extraction, recognition, classification, and proxies. We’ll look at how these racialising technologies operate at the border and consider activist and artistic interventions into these sites. 

 + Worldlio (still) Tom Smith, 2023.

Session 3: SPECULATE
Featuring Sarita Herse, Jasmin Pfefferkorn, and Tom Smith
Speculative value. Speculative fictions. Speculative practice. Speculative hope.

Since its inception, AI has been intricately connected to speculation. Speculative fictions, speculative value, speculative profits, speculative job losses, speculative risks all coalesce in AI hype machine. Art also finds value in its connection to the speculative: speculative practice, speculative experiments, speculative funding, speculative pedagogies, speculative futures. And critical work on race also productively turns to speculation when the empirical facts of inequity and injustice fail to create social change – speculative world-making and speculative methods to realise racial justice. Our final session for the day invites artists and researchers Sairta Herse, Jasmin Pfefferkorn, and Tom Smith to offer speculative propositions on AI and race. From here we’ll speculate on how we can put the critical curriculum we have developed throughout the day to use. And we’ll finish with the screening of a new video work by Tom Smith.

 + Work, Worker Hoang Tran Nguyen, 2022. from the series Labour 2013–ongoing. Song menu, video, site specific event-installation.

Evening event: AI Karaoke Night!
Featuring Hoang Tran Nguyen, Sarita Herse, and more

Over drinks, be prepared for one of Hoang Tran Nguyen’s legendary karaoke performances and a DJ set by Sarita Herse, both which will take up the thematic of AI and race.

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Art + Australia ISSN 1837-2422