Ventriloquist Ontology, the fabric is more alive than the skin


In the dystopian play “The Ventriloquists’ School” by Alejandro Jodorowsky, a ‘free man’ falls into a deserted street and, panicked, takes refuge in a non-place populated by slaves and masters where puppets and manoeuvres live under the control of the feared Sacred Director. Whether it’s a representation of a personal journey, the conscious renunciation of one’s will or a way to vent on some of the more uncomfortable aspects of the self, is up to the audience to interpret. This is the inspiration for Ventriloquist Ontology, a complex work from the interdisciplinary artist Afroditi Psarra, which explores the hybridisation and limits of control between man and machine through the relationship of a performer with a wearable entity. As the artist says, ‘I envision creating a wearable that takes over the wearer’s body and converts them into a puppet whose movement is dictated by what they wear.’ This e-textile entity adapts to the shapes of the human body and like a ventriloquist, it speaks. It does this through an automatic text generator developed on the GPT-2 linguistic model which is itself ‘trained’ on biopolitics, algorithmic governance, academic articles on surveillance using wearable devices, manuals on body movement and queer theory. The entity also has ‘control points’ which, when in contact with the human body, guide and force it into a slow, algorithmically controlled dance. Through a feedback process between machinic language and human assimilation, an interdisciplinary performance is born where the combination of flesh and electronics, artificial intelligence and machine learning, compel us to reflect on the relationship between humans and machines. Benedetta Sabatini
the relationship between humans and machines. Benedetta Sabatini
(Still image from Tanja Busking)


Afroditi Psarra – Ventriloquist Ontology