You Can Say: “Reset the Room.”
19 SEP 2020 - 9 NOV 2020
|龙星如 Iris LONG
|劳伦·李·麦卡锡 Lauren Lee McCarthy
|Brownie Project SH
2020年的某一天，艺术家劳伦·李·麦卡锡梦见会议软件Zoom变成了人类。这个梦是她长年工作线索的显在化，劳伦·李·麦卡锡的工作一直围绕科技对社会生活的编码，潜在的自动化，算法生存等话题展开。不带有人格预设的 Zoom 在梦里变成人类，是被我们赋予最大限度拟人状态的当代科技之“画皮”般的谵妄隐喻，它的源头或许可以追溯到最早的智能对话程序 ELIZA 在二十世纪六十年代开机的那个瞬间。
“你可以说：…”是一句指令，它出现在和 Siri 或 Alexa 等智能助手的对话指南里，“教”你怎么对待算法。正如打车或外卖软件提供的自动回复一样，指令化的语言正在帮助我们完成向“更智能”日常的过渡。日历排期，物流系统，无数社交软件构筑的线上平面，外卖实时位置查询，智能体重秤或者自动咖啡机，都被设计者赋予了精妙的交互机制和得体的行为模式（何时安静，何时可见），而和这些设备与系统沟通的语言，也被打包在用户协议和说明书里，传递给了我们。与此同时，供职于科技公司的文学研究者，诗人，小说作家乃至剧作家，正不断为智能软件设计着更暧昧，更值得玩味，更荒诞，矛盾乃至无序的语言与性格，让它们更好地潜入与人交流的世界，润万物而细无声。
界面之下，我们与智能系统的关系实际上也是我们与设计系统的人，与流通在系统里所有他人的数据，以及支撑系统的物质原料与运算资源之间的关系。或许杰森 · 爱德华 · 路易斯等人在《与机器成为亲缘》里的论述并不夸张，至少对曾经参与过麦卡锡作品的人来说是如此：他们曾在此与机器互换角色与身份，将肉身挤压进机器的外衣，又复在格格不入之时跳出，重新理解他们试图扮演的那个对象。
One day in 2020, artist Lauren Lee McCarthy dreamed about the meeting software, Zoom, becoming a human. The dream can be seen as a manifestation of her long-term research. McCarthy’s oeuvre unfolds around themes of social scripting, latent automation of contemporary life, algorithmic living and so on. The metamorphosis of characterless Zoom into a human being is a deliriant metaphor rooted in our ambition of anthropomorphic technologies, the origin of which could date back to the
1960s when Eliza was firstly turned on.
“You can say…” is an instruction that can also be found in the handbook of Siri, Alexa and other virtual assistants, teaching you how to treat algorithms. Just as the auto-replies provided by food delivery or taxihailing apps, instruction based languages are transforming us into a “smarter” daily life. Calendar scheduling, logistics system, countless social networking softwares, real-time location tracking services, smart scale or automated coffee makers, are all endowed by the designers with deliberate
interaction mechanisms and elegant behaviourial pattern (when to conceal, when to be seen), whilst the language used for communicating with such devices and systems, are packaged in the user agreements and instruction books. Meanwhile, literature researchers, poets, novelists and scriptwriters working for tech companies, are constantly contributing to smart wares’ new personalities that are more subtle, more worth pondering, more absurd and even more chaotic, to allow them to better navigate in human worlds, naturally, and unnoticeably.
There is an unconscious mutual negotiation and discipline between technology and dailiness, transferred in between is more than user privacy, but also layers of embodied or psychological agencies. Technology can always be more “assistive”, as the next slides at the developers conference will demonstrate. The way Lauren Lee McCarthy interferes with the mentioned situation is to incorporate a set of technologically valid performative actions, and pierce through the unsealed or the vulnerable parts of the seemingly seamless technological film. Can crowd-sourcing services be used creatively? Could the last private space - sleep -be invaded? What will happen if we replace the machine agent with a human agent? How would contemporary technology take care of an old person? Her work often creates an ambiguous scenario in which silent technologies are repositioned in our eyesight. Wandering among her work would lead to an uncanny feeling: if human designers spare no effort in the “personification” of technologies, in McCarthy’s work, oppositely, we can observe human sparing no effort in the “techonification” of themselves, yet the randomness, uncomprehensive-ness and even unpredictability of human nature annotate the humor and criticality of her work.
Beneath the “interface”, the relationship between us and smart systems is in essence the relationship between us and those who design the systems, with all data from other participants of the systems, and even with the materials and computing resources that support the systems. Perhaps Jason Edward Lewis isn’t exaggerating in “Making Kin with the Machines”, at least those who’ve seen McCarthy’s work can understand this statement.They have interchanged roles with machines, squeezing their bodies into liminal space constructed of matrices of algorithmic rules, and retreated when it went too far - that’s the point when technology can be seen differently.
“You can say: Reset the room…”
Who are you talking to?