AUJIK: Impermanence Trajectory
Darkroom 23 Mar – 13 May 2018
AUJIK is an artistic concept initiated in 2011 by the Swedish artist Stefan Larsson. Its core themes are artificial intelligence, nature, technology, perception, future speculation, neuroscience and architecture. AUJIK resembles a fictive esoteric cult whose outlook contains elements from Shintoism, Zen Buddhism and Japanese nature religions. Its central idea is that everything, even the most artificial things, have consciousness and a soul. On the audio visual level, AUJIK’s works combine alien organic-mechanical hybrids with electronic music soundscapes.
The video trilogy Impermanence Trajectory (2013–2018) has two main themes: animism and artificial intelligence (AI). The trilogy in influenced by the ideas of AI expert Jürgen Schmidhuber and scientist, futurist Ray Kurzweil according to whom artificial general intelligence, AIG, will one day have the intelligence and the emotive capacity of humans and will eventually evolve into a distinct entity whose capabilities are beyond human understanding. Machine intelligence and the exponential development of technology will lead to the greatest transformation since the Cambrian Explosion. The resulting entity will be a universal Turing machine, a computational universe in which all atoms and the tiniest particles have the potential of being used as conscious machines. Such changes would inevitably lead to fundamental, existential questions: What is consciousness and emotions? How does a synthetic awareness feel and perceive? The title of the trilogy, Impermanence Trajectory, refers to the Buddhist idea of an ever-present state of change and impermanence. Nothing is unchanging, even though we paradoxically try to grasp at things and see them as permanent.
Stefan Larsson (born 1973 in Söderhamn, Sweden) graduated from the Umeå Academy of Fine Arts in 2005. He has lived for the past nine years in Ōtsu, Japan. AUJIK’s works mostly employ video and computer animation, including motion tracking, but they also incorporate elements of installation, 3D printing, virtual reality, costumes, music and text. Many of his works are produced in collaboration with musicians such as Mira Calix, Christ, Sun Araw and Daisuke Tanabe. AUJIK’s prize-winning works have been presented worldwide in galleries, museums and festivals.
This exhibition is supported in part by the Ministry of Education and Culture.
Impermanence Trajectory I: the limbic nest
The video was shot in the grounds of Ishiyama-dera, a Buddhist temple in Japan. A member of AUJIK guides the viewer through portals into a stone that leads to various spheres inside a constructed limbic system. Comprising millions of atoms/data bits, the stone functions as a computational unit that has developed its consciousness over hundreds of millennia. The work shows metaphorically how the limbic organs of the stone are woven together through digital synapses and dendrites.
Impermanence Trajectory II: stained seed
This work was influenced by an article titled Computational dialectics for arguing by Hajime Sawamura, Japanese professor of mathematics and AI research. The fundamental idea of the text is to allow the variables of data algorithms to be based on dialectical values such as conflicts, differences and contradictions. Not unlike Friedrich Hegel’s method of thesis/antithesis/synthesis, AUJIK’s work aspires to higher understanding. The video shows two agents representing varying values who encounter various tasks. The goal of each task is a perfect entity and higher insight. The faces of the agents resemble the random motifs seen in Rorschach tests, and they change in reflections of changing situations. The robot-like fallen trees in the video serves as a kind of catalyst. The video was made in collaboration of the British electronic music artist Mira Calix and cellist Oliver Coates.
Impermanence Trajctory III: Thalamus
The last part of the trilogy follows Mana, a member of the third incarnation of AUJIK. Mana lives in the Ainu colony on the Kamchatka peninsula between the Sea of Okhotsk and the Bering Sea. She begins her winter day by using various KIIA artefacts, symbiotic entities that combine synthetic and organic nature. Over time they have developed distinctive qualities and character, and they are said to embody an intelligence far beyond the combined intelligence of all people who have ever lived. Instead of putting their abilities to use, the KIIA live in a state of total resignation. As Mana transcends with an artefact, she receives an unexpected visit by the trio who govern the colony. They have come to give Mana a mission: to visit Thalamus.