Ars Electronica 2020

Dates : 09/09/2020 - 13/09/2020
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LIUSA WANG will present aaajiao’s work, ‘bot.’, in Ars Electronica 2020.

Ars Electronica 2020 will take place from September 9 to 13 – in Linz, of course, but not only there. It will also be in 120 “Kepler’s Gardens” around the globe.

It is a journey mapping the “new” world and a journey through “Kepler’s Gardens”. In the course of this journey, the festival will discuss the important questions of our time, questions raised by the global corona crisis, and consider what we can and must do now. All the issues touched upon are marked by a general UNCERTAINTY and the question of how the crisis will shape and change us as individuals and as a society, us as HUMANITY. They will focus on two areas of tension in particular: AUTONOMY and DEMOCRACY as well as TECHNOLOGY and ECOLOGY.

In the video ‘bot.’, the artist presents a portrait of memory built on a machine’s assumptions of how people would think a machine would interpret the mind. He borrows aesthetics from existing role-playing action games such as Mother3, Adventureland, Undertale, and ROM, to create awareness of one’s world in 2018—a perhaps slightly dystopian impression—and to introduce a conception of memory that sets itself apart from present understandings. Besides, he displays the wechat circle which could be a Chinese version of Instagram feeds.

He also went on journeys across the city and displays an environment deeply intertwined with a digital past as well as its present counterpart. Local and global networks, social media, gardening structures, parks, and nature itself all become amalgamated into a digital hyper-representation.  On the other hand, the artist expresses his concerns on continuous partial attention with this work. By adopting an always-on, anywhere, anytime, any place behaviour, we exist in a state of excitement and alertness and we can no longer be concentrated fully on anything. Constant access to media has turned us into compulsive snackers and triggered a cycle of shorter attention bursts, shorter media portions, increased tempo, quicker payoff and algorithmic optimization.

As Bots mean spiders or web crawlers are heavily used by search engines to figure out how high to display websites in search results, aaajiao links the basic function with users nowadays: “For me, we are searching and constructing our external memory in the same way and this process constitutes a multi-aspect of oneself. When we think of ourselves as users and form ourselves with bots, we will face a dilemma about truth.”  In this age of accelerated planetary computation, there is no doubt that we human struggle to “remember” and to “think in more memorable ways” as we become unable to rely solely on regions in our brains devoted to spatial memory.

Yet aaajiao is not only concerned with what is happening to our cognitive abilities or our interacting biological neurons. Acutely aware that we have an entire superstructure of digital sources on the Internet and external devices to help us store our memories outside our brains, aaajiao declares, “now that we have become bots, we are just one with the mind of the hive.”