Some notes on A.I. Aesthetics
Deep thanks to you, this first crop of paid subscribers to Soft Labor. I am grateful for your support. I could go on forever about A.I. and its impact on society and visual culture, but: What have I missed? Add your notes in the comments, please! I’m glad you’re here to think with me.
Watch: Released in 1995 by Director Iara Lee’s production house, Culture of Resistance Films, Synthetic Pleasures remains one of my all-time favorite, utterly fascinating cult-tech documentaries — one that I first encountered (very fittingly) in San Francisco and subjected countless bewildered graduate students to during the years I taught at NYU. A very precocious — and then, only 28-year-old — Lee stated in an interview: “You can’t put a stop to technology. The issue becomes, ‘how can we guide ourselves to a better future? How can we write a constitution for the future?” Lee conceived her film as an “electronic road movie,” one that meanders through various realms of technology (performance artist Orlan makes an appearance, for example, as do several early proponents of augmented reality and even the then-new drug Prozac) to question their impact on society at large. Almost twenty-five years later, this film proves a perfectly-prescient primer for today’s discourse around the visual and cultural impact of generative artificial intelligence. Very worth a watch.
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