SCREEN: “Yes, I’m here” by Blunt x Skensved

Artists: Blunt x Skensved (Gregory Blunt and Emmy Skensved)

Title: Yes, I’m here

Curated by: Christina Gigliotti

Screening: March 6 – 26 , 2019

Bayesian networks
Artificial neural networks
Evolutionary programming
Improving its own design

An improved design
Improves its own design
Improves its own design

A chain reaction
Goals translated into machine-implementable code
with unforeseen consequences

Tell me, Alexa, does Artificial Intelligence pose a threat to humanity?
“Hmm, I don’t know that one.”

Alexa, are you intelligent?
“I try my best.”

“Yes, I’m here” is a project by Gregory Blunt and Emmy Skensved that probes the promises and perils of artificial intelligence, smart home technology, and the rising use of voice activated personal assistants, such as Amazon’s Alexa.

Originally presented as multimedia installation at the Art Gallery of Southwestern Manitoba in Brandon, Canada, “Yes, I’m here” was comprised of a two-channel digitally-animated video, and an audio piece that controlled the lighting and ventilation in the exhibition space via voice commands.

Featuring a speculative conversation between an individual and her voice activated personal assistant, the work touches upon themes of convenience, efficiency, and security. Blunt x Skensved examine how much these devices can learn from humans and whether they could eventually operate independently from their users. When one invites AI into the intimate space of one’s home, they are entering into a contract, relinquishing a certain degree of control and privacy in exchange for convenience; Blunt x Skensved cast a skeptical eye towards the level of transparency in this exchange, and ask what are the potential ramifications and outcomes of this increasingly invisible presence.

Blunt x Skensved (Gregory Blunt and Emmy Skensved) are an Athens and Berlin-based artist duo. Together, they produce exhibitions, events, and browser-based curatorial projects. Their work spans a variety of media including digital animation, audio, installation and web design, and touches upon themes of new technology, economic and bodily consumption, subculture and social ritual. Both Blunt and Skensved studied at OCAD University in Toronto and obtained their MFA degrees from the University of Waterloo, CA. They have been the recipients of grants and awards from Canada Council for the Arts, Toronto Arts Council, Goethe Institute, and the Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen. Some of their recent exhibitions include Yes, I’m Here at the Art Gallery of Southwestern Manitoba, Brandon, CA (2018), Ist Gut Nicht Gut Genug? At Vögele Kunst und Kultur, Pfäffikon, CH (2018), Pizzag8: Burnout at Aether Sofia, BG (2018), Hybrid Layers at ZKM in Karlsruhe, DE (2017), GEOLOGOS  at Komplot in Brussels (2016), TeraTear at the Moscow Biennale for Young Art (2016), Swimminal Poolitics in Samos, GR (2015), Deep Skin at SNOlab in Sudbury, CA (2015) and eStamina at Import Projects in Berlin (2015).