Artificial intelligence, genetically modified foods, social media battlefields, ceaseless cellphone use — each of these feels like a vast, unconscious invasion of uncontrolled experiments set loose on our lives without permission. And if you haven’t noticed the accompanying stress, I do envy your recent, 20-year sabbatical on Mars.
Dyscorpia, an ambitious and frankly unnerving group art show running at Enterprise Square through May 12, considers the massive change from the perspective of our ever-expanding biological thresholds. It’s both celebration and protest, a nexus of truly inspiring questions often asked without words, as smart art will.
Involving nearly three dozen artists and thinkers in visual art, design, contemporary dance, medical humanities, virtual reality, sound creation, computer science and creative writing, it’s opening reception is at 6 p.m. Saturday.
Amid dozens of sculptures, paintings, video pieces, and even actual A.I. learning how we move through its lair, head curator Marilène Oliver and her co-lead Sean Caulfield explain the show’s intentions.
“Dyscorpia is a word we made up as researchers,” Oliver says, “to describe that kind of feeling when you have to relearn your body as a result of technology. I think of the example of getting into a car you haven’t driven before — there’s no key, there’s a card, a button to release the hand brake.
“This exhibition explores that from many different angles: thinking about artificial intelligence and artificial bodies; thinking about anatomy; about using digital media to tell stories; and about how our mental state is changing as a result of all this technology — and how we have to protect ourselves.”
For the show, the two collaborated on a sculptural piece with Caulfield’s mesmerizing and familiar graphic line work, coupled with wax body parts purchased by Oliver which she calls “votive offerings.” The work’s soundtrack is by Scott Smallwood.
Caulfield enjoyed the hybridity, an underlining theme running through all of Dyscorpia. “The collaborator offers something, how do you deal with this?” he asks in what could be the question of the entire exhibition.
Through the many pieces, the two artistic leads were struck by how roughly 80 per cent of the artists wanted to make work in the Out on Our Limbs section, dealing with anxiety and mental health, which Caulfield notes was often linked to concerns about the environment.