Angels, Bots, Cute AIs and Animism: A Conversation on AI Imaginaries

July 10 2024 | 18:00 BST | Borough Road Gallery, London

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The Critical Infrastructures and Image Politics group in collaboration with the Centre for the Study of the Networked Image is inviting you to a discussion of AI imaginaries, including a talk by Bogna Konior and followed by a conversation with Amy Ireland, Gabriela Méndez Cota and Alexandra (Sasha) Anikina. The event will take place on Wednesday, 10th July at the Borough Road Gallery, London South Bank University (entrance on Borough Road).

18.00 Welcome by Sasha Anikina and Geoff Cox

18.10-19.00 Angels in Latent Spaces: Notes on AI Erotics, Bogna Konior

This lecture engages with female Christian erotic mysticism, from the Middle Ages until modernity, as an early philosophy of artificial intelligence. Through a selection of original mystical writings and contemporary cyberculture theory, it explores how female stigmatics and mystics could be considered as thinkers of the internet to come, including the subjects of human-machine romance as well as artificial reproduction. Drawing on my own canon of cyberfeminist and mystical texts, as well as experiments with image and text generators, I propose a prophetic reading of these early theologies. The writings of these mystics model for us, I argue, a way of thinking about artificial intelligence and the destiny of our species, where inhuman eroticism is a gateway into a machine age, already prefigured by the popularity of AI partner apps like Replika, virtual reality sex in VrChat, the popularity of avatar erotic models, or remote sex technologies.

19.00-20.00 Angels, Bots, Cute AIs and Animism: A Conversation on Imaginaries - with Bogna Konior, Amy Ireland, Gabriela Méndez Cota and Alexandra (Sasha) Anikina. The conversation will be followed by drinks at the gallery.

Bogna Konior is an Assistant Professor of IMA (Interactive Media Arts) at NYU Shanghai. She is also a Research Fellow in the Antikythera Program on Speculative Computation at the Berggruen Institute, and a mentor in the Synthetic Intelligence program at Medialab-Matadero Madrid. Her work on digital culture, philosophy of new media, and posthumanism has been presented internationally, recently including the Cambridge Leverhulme Centre for the Future of Intelligence, ZKM | Center for Art and Media, e-flux, and the Ljubljana Biennale. She is currently working on two projects concerned with long-term trajectories of technological development. Her current academic project is on Polish science fiction writer and philosopher, Stanislaw Lem, and his neglected contribution to the theory of biotechnological evolution of autonomous reason. She is also conducting a multimedia research project on female Catholic mysticism as an early form of cyberfeminism and a predictor of machine erotics, nonhuman personhood, and artificial reproduction. Together with Anna Greenspan and Benjamin Bratton, she is the editor of Machine Decision is not Final: China, and the History and Future of AI (Urbanomic, 2024).

Gabriela Méndez Cota is a researcher in the Department of Philosophy at Universidad Iberoamericana, Ciudad de México. Inspired by deconstruction, psychoanalysis and technoscience feminism, her work explores the subjective and ethical dimensions of technological/political controversies in specific contexts. Her books include Disrupting Maize: Food, Biotechnology and Nationalism in Contemporary Mexico (Rowman & Littlefield, 2016). Among other places, her work has appeared in New FormationsMedia Theory, Women’s Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal, and the Routledge Handbook of Ecocultural Identities (2020). Since 2014, she has been co-editor of the open access journal of culture and theory, Culture Machine (culturemachine.net). Between 2019 and 2021 she led a practice-based educational initiative on critical/feminist/intersectional perspectives of open access, which included a collaboration with the COPIM project at the Centre for Postdigital Cultures at Coventry University, and which resulted in a collective rewriting of The Chernobyl Herbarium (Open Humanities Press, 2015).

Amy Ireland is a writer and theorist best known for her work with the technomaterialist transfeminist collective, Laboria Cuboniks, whose Xenofeminism: A Politics for Alienation (Verso, 2018) has been translated into eighteen languages. With Maya B. Kronic she is the author of Cute Accelerationism (Urbanomic, 2024), and an anthology of her philosophical essays (Filosofía-Ficción: Inteligencia Artificial, technología oculta y el fin de la humanidad), was published by Holobionte in 2022. Amy’s work has appeared in various academic journals, poetry anthologies, art reviews, and exhibitions, including the Barbican Centre’s 2019 ‘AI: More than Human’, and the 2021 Athens Biennale. Amy currently works as an editor and translator for the UK contemporary art and philosophy publisher, Urbanomic.

Alexandra (Sasha) Anikina is a media theorist and artist whose work focuses on algorithmic and visual culture, affective infrastructures, imaginaries of technology, feminist STS and technological conditions of knowledge production, governance, labour and affect. Recently she has been focused on two bodies of work: one, feminist and decolonial imaginaries of AI and procedural animism; and the other concerned with post-socialist state necropolitics. She is Senior Lecturer in Media Practices at the department of Art and Media Technology in Winchester School of Art, University of Southampton and co-director of Critical Infrastructures and Image Politics research group and Programme Co-Lead for MA Global Media Management. https://linktr.ee/alxanikina

Geoff Cox is Professor of Art and Computational Culture, and co-director of the Center for the Study of the Networked Image (CSNI) at London South Bank University, as well as adjunct at Aarhus University. Hisesearch interests lie broadly across the fields of software studies, image politics, experimental publishing and AI literacy. https://www.centreforthestudyof.net/  

The event will be hybrid and recorded. It is organised by Dr Alexandra Anikina as the first in the series of AI conversations hosted by Critical Infrastructures and Image Politics research group (University of Southampton) and the Centre for the Study of the Networked Image (London South Bank University). The event is supported by Web Science Institute.