Lynn Hershman Leeson at Gazelli Art House in London

Lynn Hershman Leeson via AnOther Magazine

… this exhibition looks interesting to me…

… from an interview with the artist:

It’s really a series of humiliations, being an artist – but particularly a female one, and particularly at my age.

… what else was she going to do?… she tells us… you make the work… it isn’t make the work for the purpose of being discovered… its make the work and something will come of it…

… something i have to remind myself of all…the…time…

… from the Code of Arms exhibition website:

Over the last five decades, artist and filmmaker Lynn Hershman Leeson has been internationally acclaimed for her art and films. Cited as one of the most influential media artists, Hershman Leeson is widely recognized for her innovative work investigating issues such as the relationship between humans and technology, identity, surveillance, and the use of media as a tool of empowerment against censorship and political repression. She has made pioneering contributions to the fields of photography, video, film, performance, artificial intelligence, bio art, installation and interactive as well as net-based media art. ZKM | Center for Art and Media Karlsruhe, Germany, organized the first comprehensive retrospective of her work titled ‘Civic Radar’.

… her interest in the relationship between the human body and technology attracts me to her work… she was a pioneer in looking at that relationship and expressing it in her art… i am thinking i need to pull out my “What Intelligent Life is Made Of” talk, possibly update it and put it out there again…

First Thoughts

… beginning to look forward to getting home… miss H and the dogs… getting a little bored… M seems as though they will go on… a little sad… a little lacking in motivation… but otherwise ok… doing some future planning…

HCR meter neutral to pointing downwards… about the voting rights landscape… about whether the multicultural majority will control the next many decades, or the mostly white minority will… the filibuster stands in the way of the former and so far, Dems have been unwilling to change it…

… have started reading a book on Issa haikus dealing with animals… i thought, when i bought it, that it was focused on animal symbology, and it does get into that, but the main focus is demonstrating Issa’s attitude towards animals, which was more or less a Buddhist attitude, and making an argument that he believed in the fair treatment of animals as that might be meant in our time, not his… i don’t know that i see the purpose of making such a case in a scholarly treatment of the poet… Buddhist belief systems generally treat all life forms as fellow travelers in the universe… as part of the web of life… i suppose i prefer the web of life view in general, even as i consider machine intelligence, and what might be evolving in the entire life/consciousness/thought system… having just finished George Dyson’s Analogia, which makes the case that machines and the coding that runs them will, have(?), reached the point of self determination and self reproduction, but not without needing us as a sublayer of their existence… this is perhaps the more benign way it could go, if indeed it is going that way… human beings not at the top of the intelligence chain, but necessary to it and therefore guaranteed a place in it going forward… i need to pick up Ken Wilbur’s book and read it again… i think it dovetails with the Dyson ideas… one question remains, however… this whole human machine thing maintains the possibility of self annihilation… how will this machine/human complex avoid destroying itself?… is violence an unavoidable part of all cultural thought systems?…

Analogia, George Dyson 02

… at last, we get to an idea of intelligent and evolving machines…

Erewhon contained three central massages: machine intelligence will supervene upon human intelligence as surely as our own intelligence supervened upon that of our individual cells; self reproduction is inevitable once evolution takes hold among machines; and there is no future in trying to turn back the clock.1

… and, quoting Canon Thomas Butler…

Our plan is to turn man’s besotted enthusiasm to our own advantage, to make him develop us to the utmost, and find himself enslaved unawares2

… and…

Butler concluded that it was impossible to draw a precise distinction between living and nonliving things, or to give a precise definition of life that would not, sooner or later, include machines. “Then only thing of which I am sure,” he argued in 1880, “is that the distinction between the organic and inorganic is arbitrary; that it is more coherent with our other ideas, and therefore more acceptable, to start with every molecule as a living thing, and then deduce death as the breaking up of an association or corporation, than to start with inanimate molecules and smuggle life into them.”3

… and this…

Automata, advertising, and natural selection are an explosive mix. Google’s introduction of AdWords, nonetizing not just language, already coded, but also meaning, not fully coded yet, was the equivalent of Lee de Forest’s introducing the control grid into Fleming’s vacuum tube. Internet advertising drives a global high-gain amplifier connecting the reward sought by computers (more machine cycles and instructions) to the reward sought by humans (more of the stimulation now returned with every click). We set loose an evolutionary system that rewards machines that learn to control both how we feel and what we think4


  1. George Dyson, Analogia, The Emergence of Technology Beyond Programmable Control [return]
  2. Ibid [return]
  3. Ibid [return]
  4. Ibid [return]

George Dyson, Analogia: The Emergence of Technology Beyond Programmable Control

… i am one and a half chapters into the book… i am learning about the first modern Russians to cross the Bearing Straits and explore the Pacific Northwest of the Americas… i am learning about the European settler overrun of the West and the Native American population that had called it home for thousands of years… i am learning about very early communication technology that permitted the coordination of troops across large stretches of land…

… really interesting how much of a lesson in the history of suppression of Native American populations the book is… other than the opportunity it afforded to develop the precursor digital transmission technology, there seems little reason for the inclusion of so much historical detail… i wonder if i will learn the reason later on… and then this:

We have to regard the Universe,” he concluded, “not as a collection of Things or Events existing apart from any awareness of them by observers, but as manifested Thoughts in a Universal Mind1

… which dovetails nicely into panpsychism though with leanings towards a Christian sprituality…

… reading about Marconi, Fleming and the development of transatlantic signaling and the vacuum tube…

… and now the development of theoretical physics, nuclear energy, and the atom bomb…


  1. John Ambrose Fleming as quoted in Analogia, George Dyson, loc 1240. [return]

Analogia, George Dyson

… of the growing number of rabbit holes i am prone to going down, AI, which i expand to “Alternative Intelligence,” is a big one… i wrote a talk on the subject a while back… for a long time i talked about it at family gatherings, dinner parties, etc… until my wife gently brought it to a stop, at least in public… she was bored, she was sure our friends were bored… maybe they were, but i haven’t stopped thinking about it… this presentation by Maria Popova on Brain Pickings of George Dyson’s book, has launched me down the AI rabbit hole again… i bought the Kindle version of the book and it awaits my attention in the near future…

… the notable quote that headlines the article…

Nature’s answer to those who seek to control nature through programmable machines is to allow us to build systems whose nature is beyond programmable control.1

… the best way i found to come at the subject was that the rise of AI was evolution in action… that nature was finding a way to progress intelligence and that such progression might or might not include a future for women and men, or if it does, women and men might not constitute the apex, if they ever did… AI does look to me to be the viable way we set sail across the universe… it seems more plausible to me that intelligent and self motivated mechanical life will evolve… alternative intelligence will be much more capable of survival in the interstitial spaces of the cosmos than flesh and blood, which is fragile and in need of extensive protection and support to persist beyond the surface of the planet…

… i am sure i will be writing more on this subject…

Soft Copy Hard Copy, Stephan Keppel

… a book review by Jörg Colberg and GPT-3…

… Colberg experiments with an AI writing partner… to be honest, i don’t like the results very much… i laud the attempt but think it does a disservice to book and author, as the language is a bit clumsy, somewhat repetitive and all the while, one wonders, what is human reaction to the book and what is AI reaction to the human reaction?… it obscures an honest review and appreciation (or not) of the book, though your mileage may vary…

… there are two reasons this article caught my attention… Colberg wrote it and i have high regard for his reviewer perceptions and knowledge of photography, and his AI co-author had come to my attention in an article i read the other day in which a woman author was telling the story of something significant and sad that had happened to her (her sister dying of cancer when she was a teenager)… she would start a paragraph and let the AI complete it, experimenting with getting more and more honest with her own thoughts and memories in her prompts along the way to see how the AI writer responded… her result was more coherent and satisfying, but also suspect, because as humans, we want to read what other humans think and feel, not what an AI partner intuits that we think or feel…

… the gorilla in the room, however, is, will there be a moment when we won’t know if we are reading words assembled by a human or AI (a variation on the Turing test) if we are not told? (as i was in both articles i have read with AI co-authorship)… and what are the implications of that?… or, more scary, have i already read an article either co-authored or solo authored by AI without knowing it?… hmmm…

… there is a wider conversation to have about AI in general… I shared a micro poem about that yesterday… but that is for another time…