Performance / Film
Spectral Karaoke is a new experimental / improvisation project, comprising a revolving collective of artists connected with BEAST (Birmingham Electroacoustic Sound Theatre), part of the University of Birmingham. We had our first event at PanPan in Digbeth during August 2023, keep an eye/ear out for further event and some improv remix works https://www.instagram.com/spectralkaraoke/
Project and Performances by Gary Charles and Carla Busuttil (in collaboration with Napo Masheane and Thulisile Binda). Presented at Nirox Sculpture Park (Cradle of Humankind, UNESCO Heritage Site, South Africa) Bohlale Ba Maka (an approximate Sesotho translation for Artificial Intelligence) is the result of a two month residency at NIROX, working with AI systems on an interdisciplinary basis to create an installation and exhibition, along with a series of performances and interventions. Working with Napo Masheane (a Sesotho poet and playwright) and Thulisile Binda (Movement Artist) we sought to challenge the promoted view of Generative AI tools as generalisable, neutral or universal. The aim of the research and practice is to expose biases built into these technologies. Despite the hype, we aim to highlight the instrumental role that such tech plays in ‘reifying the complexity of the past,’ creating a ‘data-driven hyperextension of a colonial instinct’ to homogenise that which exists outside of its immediate orbit. To be machine readable entire archives (of music, art, text) are flattened and compressed into a retrievable symbolic, mathematical maps, thereby flattening time and creating a vacuum in place of social and cultural memory. Those archives that are flattened, de-contextualised and statistically regurgitated represent a fraction of human experience and creativity, but are over-represented in media scrape-able from the internet. Through our workshop experiments in confusing, breaking or jamming with the tools, we could create new material that reveals the biases underpinning the models. For example, in conversation with GPT-3, Masheane’s references to Sesotho culture are de-contextualised and lost in translation, with the machine’s outputs becoming completely incoherent, and often, adamantly false. The conversations reveal the absences and blindspots embedded in the training sets, so vast in scale yet narrow in understanding. Local knowledges are absented and cultural memory erased. The future, in the topography of the model, is flat.
Bohlale Ba Maka
Always the Land
So what was this Earth that the meek were to inherit? What if it had already been inherited? A film, installation and performance in collaboration with Gary Charles & Jodie Langford. The theme of the work takes the North East Coast of England as it’s starting point and primary setting. This coastline holds particular fascination as the site of some of the country’s most rapid coastal erosion (due to climate change), as well as its largest renewable energy projects in the form of offshore wind farms. These interlocking developments form an ideal location for artistic interrogation. In the film, we find #AltBlingQueen and her Jester, MiddleLanders casting spells and enchantments to the ocean, sending clicks from a groovebox, summoning jewelled creatures that hold the seabed hostage. They seek to release the wind, the land and the seabed back to The Commons, freed from the shackles of private enclosure, emancipated from the scourge of rent-seekers and inherited wealth.
Always the Land
In collaboration with Gary Charles and Jodie Langford
The Credo takes place on the outskirts of Johannesburg, the Cradle of Humankind, in front of the ruins of what was once an outpost for Lord Milner The British High Commissioner to South Africa at the time of the Second Anglo-Boer War. Lord Milner penned a personal credo that was published throughout the British Empire. This film is a fictionalised re-enactment of the writing of this credo. The content remains unchanged, his words providing the audience with a stark reminder of the prevailing national sentiment at the time. Lord Milner is re-imagined as if existing in one of my paintings. This provides an added layer of absurdity to accompany his haunting words. The film was made in 2014 before the #RhodesMustFall movement had gained momentum in South Africa and the UK. Milner was an ideological heir to Cecil Rhodes’ vision of British imperialism and racial superiority. After researching Milner’s career, views and actions, we were surprised there was not more of a backlash against these historical figures. Britain still retains a blindspot when considering their actions undertaken as a colonial empire. To me, representation of these figures, whether in name or statue, represents a history of subjugation in the pursuit of economic gain and race or nation-based dominance. This work questions their place in history and contemporary society
In collaboration with Gary Charles