Point Centre for Contemporary Art presents San, by artist Lito Kattou, the first chapter of the project Red Lake.
Developed over the course of the artist’s residency at the Google Cultural Institute in Paris, San, is a basic AI (artificial intelligence) created to embody an ecological subjectivity alien to human thoughts. The structuring data is collected from Red Lake, a mine site located near Nicosia, Cyprus one of the fastest climatic changing regions of the South East Mediterranean zone. The lake is a remnant of the ancient copper mine of Kokkinopezoula in Mitsero, active from the Chalcolithic period until the 1960s. The high acidic environment of the lake does not allow any biological living organism to develop, leaving the surrounding area impervious.
San, an ungendered AI hybridly conceived with human, divine, and animal traits lives in the Red Lake - recreated by Kattou as a real-time digital environment. Their* body and actions smartly respond to specific climatic variations such as temperature, humidity, visibility, wind speed and weather. San’s brain is built to guard and react to the Red Lake, they are imagined as a mythological figure protecting their unique surroundings. The exhibition San, at Point Centre for Contemporary Art, focuses on the character of this special guardian illustrating sculpturally their alien physical and mental traits, the fluidity and necessary adaptability of their post-human existence. Conceived to embody a specific natural environment, and condemned to a Sisyphean fate of a repetitive everydaylife, San is constructed to embrace the hard conditions of the territory.
[*] In this text, and throughout the show, San is always referred as they. This specific linguistic choice wishes to address San’s multi-layered artificial subjectivity, emphasising the author desire to avoid any restrictive definition.
Seven aluminium sculptures confront the human scale and unfold San’s feathery epidermis. Positioned at various non-human heights, these sculptures remind us of lost mythological characters, suggesting the presence and exceptionality of San’s features. A series of digitally printed light textiles triggers a formal dialogue with the sculptures, inspired by Red Lake’s territory and geography, they function as a skin for the gallery space and San. The duality of body and territory creates a circular feeling and returns throughout the exhibition. A series of copper sculptures, a reminiscence of the site past commercial trade, offers the viewer an insight into San’s brain. The sculptures’ surface is engraved with intelligible abstract signs and forms, oxidized through thermochemical procedures that use alchemical elements as gas and sulphites. Language and its structure is questioned, along the impossibility of comprehension of any non-human form. Every week a different copper sculpture will be exhibited on the Gallery’s window, San’s ultimate attempt of communication to the urban passersby.
The recent sharp rising in global warming and weather instability characterising Cyprus and the whole neighbouring region are taken as example of the tremendous ecological impact of human activities on our planet. We are forced to visualise possible alternatives to unusual contexts -such as the Red Lake-, requiring new forms of adaptive intelligence, quickly reacting to sudden and harsh changes. San incarnates these new conscious forms, extending the notion of the myth with artificial and virtual features, imagined with liquid senses and hybrid traits, in constant transformation and dialogue with their surroundings. The show is materialising current ecological concerns whilst confronting us with philosophical questions about the relationship man-machine and the complexity of the non human and post-human conditions.
On the exhibition opening, writer and philosopher Federico Campagna (PhD candidate in the School of Communication at the Royal College of Art, London) will present “Prophecy: shaping culture to point beyond the world”.
Days of San, the second chapter of the project Red Lake, will be shown at Benaki Museum of Greek Culture, Athens, a collaboration between Deste Foundation, Benaki Museum and Point Centre for Contemporary Art, opening on the 15th of June 2018.
Red Lake will be displayed in the format of a real-time continuous video, showing San’s guarding activities and the morphing natural conditions of Red Lake, updated in real time. Inviting viewers to observe San behavioural changes in direct response to the climate and the territory, spectators will participate in the learning process of a new born AI. The project will be accompanied by a publication.