(Non-)Human, AI Reproducing Absence


Human relationships are based on presence, on exchange, on physicality. And yet, the emptiness of an absence can sometimes take on a significance and power beyond presence itself. Perhaps, in a similar way, artificial intelligence, though far from faithfully tracing human attitudes, can generate empathy when they imitate behaviours that we tend to attribute to our species. It is as if any small human trace can acquire, through its own reproduction, a new value.
The kinetic installation of artificial intelligence “(Non-) Human” by the artist and technologist Yuguang Zhang, investigates not only the absence, but a possible and deeper connection between people and the objects that are part of their daily lives. The series is inspired by “Kotoba” by Japanese artist Kimura Koichiro. This is a series of photographs taken of his family in their bed while they were asleep, photos in which, although he is not physically present, his figure can still be discerned through the imprint left on the crumpled sheets. Similarly, Zhang, using a set of images of his sleeping positions, trained a neural network to generate movements which in turn are able to animate empty sheets. The artist’s “own” bed, as a cross-section of daily intimacy, becomes an exhibited work that tells of a human being in his absence. These are traces of humanity scattered in the territory of the semi-human and the semi-object that tell of human beings in non-human forms. Benedetta Sabatini

[Photo by Sebastiano Luciano; courtesy Re:Humanism]


Yuguang Zhang – (Non-)Human