Systemic Errors of Collective Intelligence. A Conversation with Agnieszka Kurant, Noam Segal, δημοσίευση στο Flash ArtMarilena Pateraki
Agnieszka Kurant’s complex conceptual practice can be described in many ways: as research into the invisible, as a study of algorithmic futurity and digital capitalism, an exploration of living and non-living actants, and the emergence of hybrid geological and biological forms. At the most general level though, Kurant’s practice deals with an expansion of what is traditionally considered the human realm, by highlighting the agency of various nonhuman actors such as data, minerals, insects, bacteria, and collective and artificial intelligence. What is considered human expands through coexistence and collaboration with, other species, microbes, viruses, machines, minerals, and geological processes.
Kurant is part of a larger group of artists who deal with our shared spheres of existence from micro to macro, the molecular to the digital, animal and plant kingdoms to intergalactic spaces. This kind of artistic research looks at the most basic units that form our “world picture” and toys with their possible transformations, often through the crossing of spheres or species. Trevor Paglen, Hito Steyerl, Anicka Yi, and Pierre Huyghe come to mind.
Kurant deploys the agency of different nonhuman entities (from termites to AI, from collective intelligence to slime molds to minerals) to gather and create new, complex assemblages. She might be the aggregator of the components and, in this sense, shapes and directs the process at certain stages by synthesizing and composing the assemblage. Yet the result is not synthetic or artificial but a thing that holds these differing states — organic and synthetic, engineered and naturally reproduced, manufactured and algorithmic — together in a single cohesive unit.
Kurant’s work considers the infrastructure and labor that created the conditions for the possibility of all of these processes involving human and nonhuman agents. She might, for example, reveal the crowds of human workers behind the apparatus of artificial intelligence, thus establishing the crucial contributions of hidden and collective labor in research, technological innovation, and development. Her timely practice asks serious questions about the nature of speculation, the widespread exploitation and enclosure of the commons, and the gross inequality perpetuated by a “data society.”
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