Recurrent Queer Imaginaries
Winnie Soon and Helen Pritchard
Medium: Flickr, Installation, and Website
Issues: Feminism, Machine Learning, Manifesto, and Queer Identity
Recurrent Queer Imaginaries is an exhibition of queer manifestos, motto writing, and urban dreaming. It features the new artificial intelligence entity, the “Motto Assistant”, available as a browser-based artwork by Pritchard and Soon. “Motto Assistant” is a machine learner, who continuously writes mottos for revolutions, anti-fascist guiding principles of living, queer love ethics, authoritarian resistances, political movements, class struggles, municipal identities, city planning, art practices, joyful engagements and violent direct action. “Motto Assistant” applies the mottos, as a method of questioning, revising, imagining, and developing, considering historical circumstances and cultural conditions. The exhibition takes as its starting point the histories and uses of manifestos and mottos as operational instructions/guidance for living together and organizing urban space. Recurrent Queer Imaginaries explores how queer and feminist manifestos have been used to propose imaginaries for life in cities that “could be” or “could have been”. The artwork explores that when these manifestos, these words, are read together they might as Ursula K Le Guin speculates, “activate our imaginations” to rewrite living. The artwork was developed using manifestos and zines for queer and intersectional life as a source text for machine learning and generative processes. It uses recurrent neural networks to train and process sequences of collective voices, as well as the “diastic” algorithm to establish a poetic structure. Such a queer model opens up new imaginaries and forgotten language beyond the confines of accurate prediction and effective generalization. The seed text “Not for Self, but All” is used in different parts of the text generation. This seed text, which at first was mistaken for a corporate slogan, is Camden Council’s motto for their municipal identity, which hangs prominently next to the Google offices in the heart of the new development of Kings Cross. Recurrent Queer Imaginaries is a call to reclaim queer spaces from corporate neo-colonial imaginations, operational injustices and reimagine them differently for all, as a commitment to queer liberation.
Winnie Soon is a Hong Kong artist-researcher, currently living in Denmark and working at the intersection of media/computational art, software studies, cultural studies, and code practice. Her artworks and research examine the cultural implications of technologies in which computational processes and infrastructure underwrite our experiences, specifically concerning automated censorship, data circulation, real-time processing/liveness, invisible infrastructure and the culture of code practice. Soon’s artworks and projects have been exhibited and presented internationally at museums, festivals, public libraries, universities and conferences across Europe, Asia and America. In 2019, she received the Expanded Media Award for Network Culture at Stuttgarter Filmwinter — Festival for Expanded Media, WRO 2019 Media Art Biennale Award and Public Library Prize for Electronic Literature (short-listed), Literature in Digital Transformation. Soon is currently an Assistant Professor in the Department of Digital Design at Aarhus University.
Helen Pritchard is the head of Digital Arts Computing and a lecturer in Computational Art at Goldsmiths, University of London. Helen’s interdisciplinary work brings together the fields of Computational Aesthetics, more-than-human geographies, and Queer Feminist TechnoScience. Her practice is both one of writing and making and these two modes mutually inform each other to consider the impact of computational practices on bodies and environments. Helen’s practice often emerges as workshops, collaborative events and computational art. She is the co-editor of “Data Browser 06: Executing Practices”, published by Open Humanities Press (2018) and has shown work internationally including transmediale (Germany), DA Fest International festival of Digital Art, (Bulgaria), Spacex (UK), Microwave Festival (Hong Kong), Sonic Acts (NL), Arnolfini Online (UK).