ex_machina

The plot line dictates, culturally and historically, a dominant narrative told many times in film and media. I wish it were different. With the myriad of racial, cultural, and social stories flooding the media, visibility of API bodies is still so very far behind in the mainstream culture even when it is inserted into film as an aside.

From two teenage boys creating a women in the 1980s film Weird Science to a robotics scientist creating a Voice Input Child Identicant (VICI) in cult classic sitcom Small Wonder, the impact of robotics and artificial intelligence on the human condition isn’t anything new. The profound interest in artificial intelligence has gained popularity with surrealist images of Google’s AI perceiving images in nature to self-driving cars. The rapid development in the realms of science enhance existing technologies to make our lives convenient. But the dominant narratives persist in popular culture as seen in the Alex Garland’s directorial film debut in Ex Machina. Since the release of the film, critics laud the triumph of soft spoken and seemingly delicate feminine robot Ava. As she speaks to Turing tester, Caleb, a programmer for Bluebook (Google-esque technology company), we realize she is well aware of the surroundings and has even developed qualities of human behavior that mimic her ability to think of ways to escape her captor-maker.

However, the film seemed to backfire as an interpretation of the battle between the sexes. Nathan, maker of Ava, created a female AI based on Caleb’s pornographic preferences, which reminds us that Nathan himself knew to use one of his own employees as a ploy in confirming his abilities and deftness in using programming and coding to materialize his fantasies and desires. The creation of Ava is also a way for Nathan to assert his control over Caleb.

Read the rest of the piece here

April 21, 2015
Doors: 6 pm
Talk: 7–8 pm

Dorothy Santos, Emily Holmes, and Quinn Norton

Is It Global? seeks to complicate the idea of “the user” in an increasingly interconnected world. While the internet is a truly international and interoperable infrastructure of undersea cables, server farms, and data centers, there remains a multitude of users; of people online. While decisions about the net’s future often come from Silicon Valley, they are increasingly enforced on millions in Africa and Asia. Who is benefiting the most? How do we change the net to most benefit these new users? Is It Global? begins to ask how race, gender, sexual identity, physical location, and more changes our experience of the internet.

SFAQ[Project]Space
449 O’Farrell St.
San Francisco, CA 94102
Friday–Saturday, 11–5:30pm
http://projects.sfaq.us

We Are not Trayvon Martin

Dear Community,

While this virtual space is dedicated to my research and writing on new media as well as the Bay Area arts community, I felt compelled to share a tumblr that has been circulating on the Internet. Under the current social and political circumstances (let’s not forget the womyns body being a huge issue at the moment as well), this past weekend has been extremely traumatizing for all people. It doesn’t matter what ethnicity, religion, culture, or sub-culture you identify with, our world is changing in ways I was hoping it would not. Processing the Zimmerman verdict has been difficult. There have been many horrendous things posted on the Internet. I forget how cruel virtual space can be and how eye opening it is that our country thinks about race, gender, and identity in ways that are destructive and unhealthy (I’m basing this on the media and comments I read on news postings, articles, and blog posts). I’m incensed by the lack of sensitivity and the way people conduct themselves in virtual spaces, specifically social media. It’s an extremely tense time for all and let’s not forget about the story of Marissa Alexander who has been sentenced to 20 years in prison for firing warning shots (NOT killing anyone) and these shots were fired to ward off her abuser. I’m trying to process everything that is happening because being a womyn of color downright frightens me.

Yet there is hope. In reading some of the posts that have been submitted to the “We Are not Trayvon Martin” tumblr, I believe this is one of the ways to connect to one another. Some of these posts had me pondering how can we, as a society and culture, evolve to a higher level of consciousness. For a long time, I was convinced that it could be done through the arts. I still hold on to this belief but I know it needs to be done through story telling and narrative. This project is a wonderful way to help facilitate and bridge gaps in understanding each other. I know this is an extremely emotionally charged post (and I am militantly opposed to the structures that hold oppressed people down when it is the law and the system that should protect us). But I wanted to share and invite people willing to engage in telling their own stories. I’m definitely here to read and “listen.”

Love and Light,

Dorothy