I’m interested in images as traces of cognition that betray those mechanisms that allow us to generate internal representations of reality. Images allow us to reflect not only on how we attend to the world but also how we categorize and conceptualize every unique moment of embodied life. At the root of my artistic enquiry is an epistemological position where subjects and objects are considered mutually constructive. As subjects, we read into reality and ignore variation to focus on the abstract and quintessential aspects of objects.
We build internal simulations of reality that mirror our constructed culture and facilitate perception. Cognition requires simulations to resist the constant barrage of reality independent of cognition, less we recoil into the abyss of constant flux, randomness and noise. This constant tension between objects and subjects is the very core of our nature. We believe we are in control, but independent reality always creeps into our minds, throwing our predictions off and subverting our expectations.
I use computational systems to examine this power struggle between subjects and objects. I build machine subjects that manifest these very foundational processes that ignore variation in order to emphasize sameness. My machines categorize, organize and reduce the infinite complexity of independent reality. In doing so they participate in a process of abstraction that breaks sensed structures into atomic particles that serve as the material from which new structures are constructed. These ‘mental’ images are of the world—their mechanisms uncover underlying statistical truths about independent reality, but they are also of us—they are projections of bounded subjective understanding.
In some of my recent work, machines learn from cultural artifacts rather than sensory information. These artifacts are cultural products through which we understand reality and ourselves. In deconstructing, categorizing, predicting and reconstructing cultural artifacts, I emphasize the tension between subjects and objects. The machine is both an alien subject attempting to understand our culture and a cultural object that manifests our understanding of ourselves.