Conversations with Bina48 unearths the racial dynamics embedded in artificial intelligence, robotics, and machine learning. The work takes the form of a series of interactions between Stephanie Dinkins and the social robot Bina48 (Breakthrough Intelligence via Neural Architecture 48). Bina48 is the brainchild of Martine Rothblatt, an entrepreneur who, with her wife, Bina, cofounded the Terasem Movement, an organization that seeks to extend human life through cybernetic means.
Being Human is set against the backdrop of a newly prosperous Sri Lanka. The country is home to a burgeoning contemporary art market that emerged in the wake of a prolonged civil conflict between the national government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, which ended in 2009. The film confronts the political erasure of Eelam, where Christopher Kulendran Thomas’s family is from, as it examines the foundations and legacies of humanism—a Western belief system that insists on an individual’s indivisibility, agency, and authenticity.
The Doors consists of a six-channel video projected onto glass panels set in an artificial garden populated with fake plants, nootropics (“smart drugs”), and an Astroturf cutout of Metatron’s cube—a symbol of sacred geometry often used in nootropic branding. Opening a portal into tech culture, it highlights the industry’s conflation of 1960s countercultural attitudes with neoliberal ideals.
Shadow Stalker addresses the troubling implications of implementing artificial intelligence in the social sphere. Those who enter their email address will trigger an internet search of their digital footprint—the trail of data that they create online. Their results will appear within a projected body-shaped shadow that stands in for their own. Offering a poignant reminder of the degree of people’s (self-) exposure, this digital reflection confronts users with information they may not even remember having volunteered.
\ Digital Guide
Use this digital guide and interactive map to learn more about each artist and installation in the Uncanny Valley exhibition.
Trouble-fête is one of Donati's most important paintings inspired by his fascination with the mandrake root — mandrakes are famous for their roots, which bear a striking resemblance to the human figure, and he saw these roots as talismans for his biomorphic paintings. Donati curves the horizon above the mandrake-like figures, shaping the sky into a planet-like form, blurring the terrestrial and celestial realms.
What is your relationship to nature?
Piazzoni was friendly with the California poet George Sterling, and they often expressed similar ideas in their work. Sometimes the titles of Piazzoni’s paintings found their way into Sterling’s poems. It is thought that Sterling’s 1911 poem “Moonlight in the Pines” inspired this painting: “But o’er the dale where Silence stood, / With tranquil dews austerely crowned, / A wilder glory touched the wood,—/ A sense of things profound.”
What do you do to protect the environment?
Heade painted 120 views of salt marshes, natural farmlands where laborers harvested black marsh grasses and gathered them into haystacks to dry. The artist first went into the marshes to hunt and fish, developing a deep appreciation for the productive relationship between humans and the land. The two figures in the canoe—likely a father and son—may have symbolized the future generations that would benefit from protecting and maintaining such natural resources.
What emotions does this landscape evoke for you?
Williams and his wife, Dora, owned a small ranch on the Knights Valley side of Mount Saint Helena. The couple hosted artistic and literary visitors at the ranch, including the painters Thomas Hill and William Keith, as well as the writer Robert Louis Stevenson. This view from Ida Clayton Road, near the ranch, is relatively rare for the 19th century—Williams was uniquely positioned to paint the area with intimate familiarity.
Enrico Donati was one of the last living Surrealist artists who was embraced and endorsed by the movement's acknowledged leader, André Breton. Born in Milan, Italy, Donati spent some time in Paris before permanently moving to New York in 1940. Two years later, Breton officially deemed him a Surrealist.