Oddy-Body

Someone wearing an unofficial teletubbies costume of the character Po, who is a large round red alien looking type creature with big ears and a circular antennae coming out the top of it's head and a blue square on it's tummy. They are standing at the bottom of a set of stairs in a white hallway. The costume is saggy and mishapen and the face is slightly menacing with wide eyes and a smile. The image has been edited to accentuate the sagginess with a slight swirling all over the costume. White text with a black background in two arches says 'feelin more oddy-body than body-ody'
Po from the Tellytubbies

A long-term enthusiasm of mine is mascot costumes. I have a collection of images on my laptop and phone of my favourites. I especially like Tweety for reasons I will explain in a later post.

Two costumes hung on stands, one is of Sylvester the cat and the other is Tweety Bird. Sylvester is a black cat with white feet, hands, stomach and cheeks. Tweety is yellow all over with an orange beak and big black eyelashes. They are hung in a small fabric cubicle, the fabric is cream coloured. They look creepy and awkward with no human bodies inside them to fill them out. At the top of the image is some white text with a black background which says 'when you both feel more oddy-body than body-ody'
Sylvester and Tweety Bird from Looney Tunes
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Artists from across UK join Vital Capacities as artists-in-residence for June 21

Three images in a composite – top left image: a black rectangular lightbox with a white screen has the word what with a question mark written 3 times on it, black pipes leave the box on the left and right sides. Top right image: a white heart shaped balloon has the words stay sick written in the middle. Bottom left image: a collage of green leaves, white daisies with yellow centres, and stripes of yellow and red streak across the image.
Artworks from top left, clockwise: Seo Hye Lee, What Did You Say?, 2017 (audio-visual installation); Laura Lulika, An Ode to Marge (or how i taught myself to speak again by watching the real housewives), 2018 (installation photo); Linda Stupart, Watershed, 2020 (video still) – images courtesy of the artists.

For June 2021’s Vital Capacities’ residency, we are collaborating with Film London Artists’ Moving Image Network (FLAMIN)Phoenix and University of Salford Art Collection. Working with three artists from across the UK, Seo Hye LeeLaura Lulika and Linda Stupart.

Across June, artists will be researching and developing new work, with work commissioned in collaboration with our partners. Artists will be experimenting with ideas, developing new projects, and sharing work with audiences. The artists are:

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04 ಕಥೆ Kathe (Story) / Dematerialise

a pixelated form of a hand is in the foreground in bright yellow and orange. It is set against a grey checkered background and to its left are an assortment of individual pixels in bright red. Tinges of blue appear throughout the image.
Image still from Dematerialise by Vishal Kumaraswamy

As an artist working with experimental technologies, hacking/re-purposing tools to create artistic works I’m often looking for ways in which I can create intimate shared experiences. Even before the pandemic, a lot of my practice was being conducted solely through computer based interactions due to a lack of funding and other resources. This mode of working allowed me to focus my practice towards making accessible works and I began thinking about the language, technology and context accessibility of my works within a larger contemporary art conversation.

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Free workshop by Tzu-Huan Lin – A Train to Utopia

A digital collage with a train in the centre of the image. The train is on train tracks coming from the left centre of the image. The foreground and background is made up of a coastal drawing showing boats, green cliffy lands, water, dolphins, people fishing and on horseback. In the left background is a dark brown train station which the train is going towards. Above the train are two black and white flying fish with wings. In the right foreground is a black and white owl-like creature with a long tail, looking down and sitting on a ledge. Above his head, in the background, a sign reads ‘VTOPIA’ in old-fashioned text. In the bottom left corner of the image is a small 3D drawing of a white building on grass with angular block-like boulders. Across the bottom of the image, in large gold text and black emboss, in capital letters are the words ‘A TRAIN TO UTOPIA’.

Digital workshop on Mozilla’s immersive platform Hubs – imagining and building Utopia by Vital Capacities artist, Tzu-Huan Lin  

A Train to Utopia is a digital workshop taking place on Mozilla Hubs led by artist, Tzu-Huan Lin. Questionning Utopia’s existence (and if we can create it), the workshop explores ideas related to this unknown but longed for place.

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03 your dataset won’t let me thrive / your dataset must die

‘your dataset won’t let me thrive / your dataset must die’ are a pair of video essays that seek to counter the mythologies surrounding Artificial Intelligence datasets & algorithms They are carried out as a comparative study of the works of the Black Beat Poet Bob Kaufman and the Kannada Dalit poet Siddalingaiah whose words (translation) are input into the text based neural network GPT-2.  The visual aesthetics of the work are drawn from generative AI imagery of brown faces, creative programming as well as animated representation of the words of each poet alongside text generated by the algorithm. The inability of the algorithm to generate text drawn from sufficient references to Black & Bahujan lived experiences reveal the encoded biases within the dataset and trace their origins to harmful mythologies of Caste & Race.

The works were commissioned by the Mozilla Foundation as part of the Reclaiming AI Futures project for the AI Observatory (https://ai-observatory.in/)

The image is a screengrab from the video 'your dataset won't let me thrive' and contains text laid against a black background with some generative abstract imagery. The text reads 'Abomunists Join Nothing But Their Hands or Legs, or Other Same'
Screengrab from ‘your dataset won’t let me thrive’

The image is a screengrab from the video 'your dataset must die' and contains abstract imagery of an AI generated face set against a dark blue background'
Screengrab from ‘your dataset must die’

02 Subaltern Futurism

Over the last two years, I’ve been developing a theoretical and critical framework titled ‘Subaltern Futurism’. Subaltern Futurism is envisioned as a speculative resource framework for artistic research, practice and the technological education of marginalised. Drawing from anti-caste literature, critical race theory, bahujan solidarity practices among other guiding experiences, it asks if artistic practice can become pedagogical tools to communities that are excluded from regular access to critical discourse around contemporary art & technology. The framework views technology through a sociological lens, as a fundamental right and shared resource. It expands upon Gramsci’s post-colonial notion of the Subaltern as ‘colonial populations who are excluded from the hierarchy of power’ to include the current state of digital colonisation, the shared sites for the digital commons and sections of technology users rendered ‘subaltern’ due to the capitalist pursuit of efficiency. Subaltern Futurism speculates that developing empathic relationships with technology through a range of critical & pragmatic actions can assist in the imagination of radical futures that are diverse, inclusive and conducted from multiple geographies especially arising from the global south and from contexts outside of euro-centric biases of inquiry. By considering a very wide scope at the outset, it is envisioned as a multi-year generative project occurring as various modular forms and widely disseminated within the ethos of open access.

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03 Building Utopia on Hubs for workshop

In the past week I tune in with two live streaming, I used hubs to build a 3d space for the future workshop. The workshop is expected to be hold at the end of the residency, somewhere closer to the week of the 20th. The reason to use hubs is that it allows participants to use existing models lively. So during the workshop, they can just create things really fast. Also using the internet as the platform instead of the real world fits the idea of migrant utopia out of physical space into an idea. Although during the workshop I will still ask participants to picture utopia out of the real world. I will play some demo with some of my friends in the next live streaming. I am using this software called hubs from Mozilla, and here you can see I am using its environment building software called spoke.

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02 Swaayattate (Autonomy)

The image contains a large eyeball with a pinkish cornea set against a black background.

In 2020, I was able to bring the ideas behind Subaltern Futurism as a speculative framework into my practice through my work Swaayattate (Autonomy). The work is an investigation into the complex entanglements of the synthetic and organic worlds. Taking the form of a bi-lingual trilogy, the films are set inside a computer repair marketplace in Bangalore and examines the nature of human-machine relationships through the contemporary lens of gender, caste and labour. The narrative moves between multiple timelines as the evolution of an embedded neural network references prescient concerns around language, accessibility and justice.

Portions of the script for the films were written in collaboration with a text based neural network GPT-2 Transformer (https://transformer.huggingface.co/) extracting & revealing the extent of encoded biases within this AI model. GPT-2 is essentially a text generator similar to the autocomplete functions on our phones. You can input words or sentences and the neural network generates the next word or sentence using pre trained machine-learning models. Widely hailed as being very close to human speech and syntax, my interactions with the language model has proven this to be highly misleading as they contain encoded biases brought over from the subjectivity of the programmers and its own training data. Chapter 2 ADI, speculates upon this process of transference of social biases into algorithmic ones.

Excerpt from Swaayattate (Autonomy)

01 Thoughts on Race & Technology

There are multiple strands of thought I’m following and working through my findings at the moment. I usually do this by identifying the emotions that certain research materials stir up as I engage with them and then head off on a journey to locate its companions in a way. Imaginations of ‘what else might complement this’ guide how I proceed or retreat and the connections I end up making are often circuitous and serendipitous.

I attribute this to the sense of wonder I have for technology in general and the internet in particular. I have visceral memories of being enamored by the sheer power of being able to access random streams of knowledge that had nothing to do with school work as a kid and I’ve held on to these memories quite strongly. They help me determine when I stop the process of ‘making’ my works and how I determine if I am sufficiently intrigued by the things I create.

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01 Interview with Vishal Kumaraswamy

Words in white capital letters say: “They closed around my head and with a golden sword shaved it;” The background is dark blue, reminiscent of an early evening sky. An unidentifiable black shape is in the bottom right corner - it looks like the shadowy silhouette of treetops. The image is a still frame from an artist moving image work by Vishal Kumaraswamy called "your dataset must die" made in 2021.
Vishal Kumaraswamy, your dataset must die, 2021 (still image from video)

Jamie Wyld (videoclub & Vital Capacities’ director): Thanks for being part of the Vital Capacities residency programme! Can you say a little about yourself and your work?

Vishal Kumaraswamy: Hi, my name is Vishal Kumaraswamy I’m a Bangalore based Artist & Filmmaker. Within my practice, I work across AI, text, video, sound and performance and I look for points of convergence between Caste, Race & Technology. My works a by weaving speculative narratives & counter-mythologies in multiple Indian languages around themes of Artificial Intelligence, Gender & Labour.

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02 The Beginning: Two video works in the past two years that related to this project #Utopia #Satellite #Displacement

I’ve been working on this project for the past two years, during the time I made two videos that related to the subject. As I mentioned before, I couldn’t digest the subject into one simple work.
The Journey begins at the end of 2017 after I finished a project called “The Yellow Snake Is Waiting”. As usual, I look inward to see what is that thing I want to express in the form of Art. I started to paint. I painted some sea turtles and artificial satellite

A painting on canvas. Acrylic painted three sea turtles. Background is green and black gradient with three white sea turtle in the center with only outlines.
Acrylic painted three sea turtles.
Acrylic on canvas painting. Black background with dark blue green in the middle looks like sea and a human like artificial satellite in dark blue on the left top.
Acrylic painted artificial satellite.

◐◒◑◓ 6 months past ◴ ◵ ◶ ◷

In 2018 during my 6-month residency at Trestle Art Space, I was thinking about the relationship between sea turtles and artificial satellites. 20000 miles under the sea caught my eye, one of the main character Captain Nemo, he lost his family back to his hometown now he traveled the underworld took it as his land. This reminds me of the idea of Utopia, my journey from Taiwan to the United State. My research shifted from artificial satellite to Utopia…

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Interview with artist Katarzyna Perlak

A figure stands reflected in front of a large mirror, showing the person from the waist up. They wear a rose-pink satin negligee, pink fur bra, fishnet vest and shiny black elbow length gloves. They have long pale pink hair and have pink mirrored futuristic sunglasses on. A black fishnet is wrapped tight over their face. The room they are in looks luxurious, with a decorative cream frame to the mirror, and long white and pink drapes against the wall in background.  The image is taken from artists film, Broken Hearts Hotel by Katarzyna Perlak.
Katarzyna Perlak, Broken Hearts Hotel, 2021

Jamie Wyld (Vital Capacities’ director): Thanks for being part of the Vital Capacities residency programme! Can you say a little about yourself and your work, perhaps in relation to what you are thinking about doing during the residency?

My practice engages moving image, performance, sound, installation and textiles and explores the intersection of politics and feelings, tackling perceptibly static subjects such as history, nationalism and power, through affect, desire and collective memory – informed by my own experience as a queer woman and immigrant to the UK from Eastern Europe.  I am interested in the capacity of art to move us through our shared vulnerabilities and enable us to problematise how history is written and traditions represented. 

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New international artists for May 2021

Artists’ work from top left, clockwise: Katarzyna Perlak, Vishal Kumaraswamy and Tzu Huan Lin

We will be delivering our third residency programme on Vital Capacities – bringing together artists from UK/Poland, India and Taiwan, which will take place throughout May 2021. Artists will be experimenting with ideas, developing new projects and sharing work with audiences. The artists are:

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Landscape [Design & Development]

The initial plan was to create a loop map in order to represent the continues endeavour we find our selves in searching and freeing fish. But over the residency period I pursued on an end goal. That end being the Tree of life!
In older versions of tuner we have been deprived of Vegetation, leaving a more sterile approach. But this has been hard as I love trees. And now with this new reincarnation of Tuner and its updated water system allowing the ability of more vertical landscapes (rather than water line dependent), evolves for more irregular and hopefully interesting environments.

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Inside Your Body – exhibition opens 7 Dec 20

The image represents four artists' work in the exhibition. In the top left, Jaene F Castrillon's work has a white Chinese statue raising a palm in prayer, surrounded by pink flowers, a white case with a long-tailed bird on, and a short lit candle. In the top right corner is Damein Robinson's work, text says: 'the man who chases 2 hairs catches Mom', there are proofreading marks on the image in orange. In the bottom right corner, an image from Angels Su's work taken from Minecraft, showing a pixelated panda bear eating a green leaf. In the bottom left corner is Clifford Sage's work, a potlight illuminates the centre of the image, a cage encloses a glowing purple egg-shaped object, a green hexagonal is lit up to the left, in the centre a yellow tentacle trails into the distance wrapped in a purple plant.
Artworks representing artists – from top left, clockwise: Jaene F. Castrillon, Damien Robinson, Angela Su and Clifford Sage

Inside Your Body is an exhibition of work created by Jaene F. Castrillon, Damien Robinson, Clifford Sage and Angela Su during a month-long online residency on Vital Capacities in November 2020.

The exhibition can be seen on the exhibition page from 7 December 2020.

Working with Tangled Art + Disability

I was nominated for Vital Capacities via Tangled Art + Disability. My journey with them started with the exhibition Thaumaturgy. I believe it was our 2nd or 3rd meeting that accessibility training was conducted, in depth instruction was provided so that our exhibition was developed on a foundation of accessibility grounding our direction from day one to be accessible to people of different abilities.

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