INTRODUCTION 35 ~>tivism

CGI photographs, photogrammetric scans, AI-generated text.

Exhibited online on Kawaii Agency at The Wrong Biennale 2021.

this project draws parallels between language, image and AI-based mediation of meaning & narration.
2 open-source cloud-based platforms have been used in an experiment to retell the story of the cute.

citations from Sianne Ngai’s critic of the cute aesthetic have been inserted into & as samples for a new plotline.
the outputs have been overlayed onto 3D renders of fluffy synthetic matter, au-dodo bunnies & à la influencer soft pink clouds appearing somewhere on the internet under the keyword of ‘cute’.

the text itself borrows the aesthetic of its layout from the little poetry book that would nestle just right into your pocket, the words aligned for the ultimate reader’s experience.
as humans seem to draw a line between words & actions, ideas & realities, the doing in the case of software here seems to be located in the endless outpour of sentences - the parameters of a battle for logic & meaning.

the outputs are at once nonsensical & informative.
the latter is evident in the expressed relation between the cute & human objectification.
the platforms automatically allude to other-ing & the fetish in the context of cutification.
yet the cute seems elusive - its quiet overpowering, its insubordination to being conceptualised appears menacing.

what kind of contemporary language would be suited to acknowledge the cute, to be cute whilst describing itself, as accurately as possible?
how much data sampled from real internet conversations stands at the foundation of AI platforms - and what does that tell us of the conversations sampled?
if un-learning is desirable so as to overcome looking at humans as objects, how does one begin to feed that concept into a piece of software?
could the cute identify most starkly where machine learning is powered by its creators’ ideologies?

The cute commodity, for all its pathos of powerlessness, is thus capable of making surprisingly powerful demands; the purchaser is often "seduced into feeling buying the product is, in fact, carrying out the wishes of the product itself. The feelings that underpin and traverse cuteness, a sentimental desire for a simpler and more sensuous, more concrete relation to commodities, are thus more multiple and complex than they may initially seem. - Sianne Ngai, ‘Our Aesthetic Categories’