"What I always wanted to tell you but never dared"
curated by Clémence Mailly
Parasol Projects, New York, USA
"What I always wanted to tell you but never dared" is a solo exhibition curated by Clémence Mailly that presents a new body of works composed of mail art, video, neon and sound pieces, that uses familiar artificial intelligence tools - namely predictive typing - to explore technology as an extension of one’s self.
This project started when, while typing a message on her smart phone, the artist accidentally pressed several consecutive times the predictive text bar on the screen. Kosmatopoulos, then, noticed that through the mechanical gesture of her hand on the screen, the phone had composing “by itself” full sentences following a proper grammatical structure subject-verb-object. The repetitive quasi-automatic movement she was monotonously performing contrasted with the original writing text that was digitally composed on the screen - a text mediated by the phone’s artificial intelligence. The virtual machine had been learning from the artist’s everyday written communications and was now trying to mimic at its best her writing style, appropriating her most used vocabulary and style, in an attempt to predict her next words. This parapraxis was shedding light in a somehow disturbing way the complex - man versus machine - dialectic as the phone had been anticipating the artist’s next words without her consent.
Fascinated by this casual though very personal manifestation of the machine’s ability to learn, Kosmatopoulos started asking random people met online and offline to perform the same mechanical act. The text obtained would be transcribed onto letter, signed and then mailed to the artist’s physical address. Every letter framed in the space is the result of this collaborative project between the artist, the participant and its phone, where each of the three actors has a very distinct role: the content of the letter was solely dictated by the predictive function of each given participant’s own smart phone; while the length of the text, format of the letter, choice of paper or pen were left at the discretion of the author of each letter.
These messages, mechanically composed with an individual’s stream consciousness, resemble Surrealist ideas, such as automatic writing or exquisite corpse games in which meaning is thought to emerge from one’s subconscious.
This mail art project is complemented by the video ORACLE where Kosmatopoulos detaches the mechanical gesture she performed on the phone to obtain these texts from the content that was appearing on this screen in front of her eyes while performing it. You put these words in my mouth is a sound piece where the artist, appropriated the codes of live poetry readings and performs with a very emotional voice passages of the text obtained. The exhibition concludes with the neon artwork := TMI that reminds the viewer at anytime of the tacit contract on privacy and access to personal information he or she signs everyday with the AI software he or she uses.