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A Wounded Matrix

The exhibition A wounded matrix. Cracks in artificial creativity, organised by the platform einaidea in collaboration with the Polytechnic University of Valencia, brings together artists, designers and artistic research professionals to reflect upon the collaboration between human creative agents and neural networks, technological entities and surroundings. A Wounded Matrix addresses the debate on the growing automation of creative processes from the point of view of its cracks and grey spaces, its impossibilities and limits, paradoxes and leaks.

How much of a body does an artificial intelligence need in order to be able to culturally legitimise and justify the meaning of its productions? How much of cultural value is inseparable from finitude, from the subjective and mortal experience of the living body? And to what extent can our our practices—humid, grinning, bleeding—hybridise, before being distorted or detracted by that which, from the synthetic generative environment, supposedly helps them? The ongoing hegemonic narrative about the progress of AI narrates the replacement, in certain areas of the imaginary, of what was known as “intuition” or “artistic inspiration” with what we would now call “generative capacity.” In this trance, it seems almost unavoidable to evaluate the perspectives of quantification and automation, partial or total, of cognitive and aesthetic work. In any of its established and recognisable manifestations, the memory of the arts transmutes into immense datasets and historical reflection turns into recombination. The emergence of ideas disembodies. Thus, the persistence of the idiosyncrasies that constitute artistic and design work give rise to doubts and suspicions, formulated both by those who fear the loss of the personal and expressive character of their works—from positions that sometimes make us think of neo-Luddite self-defenses or an incipient “human nationalism”—and by those who would like—following corporate and extractivist interests or certain notions of tech eugenism—to completely outsource their production.

Should chance encounters, traumas, non-normative desires, whims, accidents and noise be considered key elements of art-driven research? Instead of studying the products of artificial creativity—like those dull and gimmicky images produced by various generative algorithms—we want to summon the work of artists who are located within the intermediate, ambiguous, sometimes undecidable space between analog production (that is, inseparable from what we call the body as a sensory and motor apparatus) and creativity assisted by artificial neural networks. Works that are located between computing and intimacy, that defy one or the other or draw their possible limits; that root between the unfolding and exploration of the technical, and the refolding imposed by critical reflection on the media.

Carmen Montiel x einaidea, A Wounded Matrix
Carmen Montiel x einaidea, Study for A Wounded Matrix, 2021

As we witness increasingly high levels of performance by artificial creativity, a deeper dependence on computing is consolidated for any cognitive operation and aesthetic production. This affects both information access and its pre-treatment and distribution; as well as the definition of aesthetic features of cultural objects, particularly in the areas of image generation, interface design, music... Furthermore, advanced computing exerts a notable influence on impact assessment, which relate to the vast majority of decision-making involved in cultural production. As writer Tanya Anand notes: “The more an Uber driver works, the faster they become redundant. The more a journalist reports, the faster a bot learns to write news. The more works artists produce, the faster a deep learning algorithm can imitate all forms of art. By doing our job, we are teaching AI to replace us”.

We ask ourselves about human-machine and machine-machine interactions within artistic research, both at its academic level and at the level that goes beyond the university environment, and is developed in public spaces or art markets. Within the framework of the university, the forms of quantification of knowledge become increasingly dependent on technology, while art-driven research appears as a field whose progressive institutional recognition runs parallel to important transformations in the noosphere. These transformations quickly turn into structuring forces, and their protocols eagerly seek to penetrate artistic research, to account for its hypothetically irreducible qualitative essence, in order to feed growing hopes for optimisation in the fields of learning.

The exhibition A wounded matrix presents a selection of artworks as well as documents and research materials that point to spaces that generative technology can border but cannot occupy or cover; cracks or stains or, if you may, wounds: expressions of a matrix that is inseparable from both its fragility and its impossibility to fully explain itself. It recognises, it hurts, it enjoys, it empathises and, to that extent, it produces. In the words of the philosopher Ramon Amaro, given the situation of accelerated advancement of AI “the role of designers or artists is, in fact, perhaps simply to remain faithful to the role of designers or artists, which is pure production but not in the sense of capital, but in the sense of being”.

Sometimes, the works in A wounded matrix present processes aided by or entangled with generative computing devices, whose results escape, however, the quantifiable (such as vital experience), the computable (the value of emotion) or the univocal (a gasp, a howl). In other cases, it is the construction of ambiguous criteria and fictional patterns that is located in bordering areas of computing, casting doubts on it. Other pieces show critical reflections on the entanglement of what is producible and reproducible, what is processed and what processes: be it the difficulty of human bodies to deal with what advanced computing generates of disproportion with respect to our inhabiting of the world, or our cognitive capacity; be it the inherent ease of bodies to continue to overflow the computable. A wounded matrix. Cracks of artificial creativity wants to express a collective urgency and convene creators, observers and mediators to address—even in oblique and ironic ways—the problematic fascination produced by the prospect of automating experiential processes and, in particular, the externalisation of artistic work regarding of what we (still) call “bodies”.

1 See documentation on the roundtable that concluded the conference "Human Creativity and Artificial Intelligence: Symbiosis or Parasitism?" organised by Eina Obra el 27 de septiembre de 2023, Barcelona. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FS80AJLNnjQ&list=PL3AbWIcj39FoaujmSDp57….

2 Tanya Anand, „Keywords“, Real Review, no. 13, Winter 2022, p. 57.

3 Ramon Amaro in conversation with Yuk Hui and Rana Dasgupta, “Designing for Intelligence”, in Atlas of Anomalous AI, London, Ignota, 2020, p. 68.

4 Jara Rocha and Femke Snelting, Volumetric Regimes: material cultures of quantified presence, ed. Possible Bodies, Open Humanites Press, 2022. http://volumetricregimes.xyz.



Opening and public programme:

The exhibition A wounded matrix. Cracks in artificial creativity will open on 25 April in the campus of the Universitat Politècnica de València, and it includes works by artists Itziar Barrio, Zach Blas, Sarah Derat, Laia Estruch, Elisa Giardina Papa, John Menick, Katarina Petrović and Marc Vives, who are joined by research elements carried out by the curatorial and design team of the project: Manuel Cirauqui, curator and director of einaidea; Rosa Lleó, co-curator of the exhibition; Mireia Molina Costa, Carmen Montiel and Alexandre Viladrich, researchers and designers of einaidea. The research and development process of A Wounded Matrix has also counted with the participation of researchers, artists and designers such as Elena Bartomeu, Erick Beltrán, Jo Milne, Lluís Nacenta, Jara Rocha and Pep Vidal.

The exhibition has been produced by the Area of Art, Science, Technology and Society of the Universitat Politècnica de València in collaboration with Fundació EINA, Barcelona, and will take place at the space N-1 of the Central Library of the Vera Campus of UPV, between 25 April and 16 July 2024.


A Wounded Matrix. Cracks in artificial creativity
A project by einaidea

25 April - 16 July, 2024

Opening dates: 25 April - 16 July, 2024
Public presentation: 6pm, 25 April, 2024 at space n-1 of the central library of Vera campus, UPV, Valencia