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Re: <nettime> Interview with the Search Engine
conceptualart.org on Tue, 4 Apr 2000 18:48:06 +0200 (CEST)


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Re: <nettime> Interview with the Search Engine



Continuing the AI thread conceptualart.org presents:

Aaron Scott created his artist statement in collaboration with Joseph
Wiezenbaum's Eliza.  An "artificial intelligence" based on the model of a
Rogerian therapist. 

HOW DO YOU DO. MY NAME IS ELIZA. AND WHAT DO YOUR FRIENDS CALL YOU? 

Aaron - that is, I don't know if I'd call them "friends"... "colleagues"
maybe "associates"... 

PLEASE JUST SIT BACK AND RELAX. OKAY, NOW WHAT CAN I DO FOR YOU, AARON?

Come to think of it, I do feel a little tense. Anyway, I'm here because I
suppose I'm having a bit of a crisis at the moment - perhaps "crisis" is a
bit strong, as it implies something of a pathological nature, like a
nervous breakdown or something, which this certainly is not... Let's just
call it a "creative crisis".

SETTLE DOWN.

Okay, okay - I didn't realize I was coming across so strong. I just am in
a bit of a desperate situation. 

WERE YOU REALLY?

Were, was... AM! Okay, let me try to articulate the problem. That's always
a good starting point, right?
So obviously I'm an artistic person, a creative... er, an artist. And at
the moment I'm in a bit of a rut creatively, you see - I can't seem to
find any cohesiveness in my work. 

SORRY, BUT I'M CONFUSED. 

Oh dear. What I mean to say is, I'm entirely lacking in direction. 

WHAT IS THAT SUPPOSED TO MEAN?

This is worse than I thought. Okay, here goes: I start a body of work -
right now I'm dealing with these paintings of dialogue from films, right?
And I finish a couple of pieces that I feel fairly confident about -not downright cocky, mind you, but confident. And let's say they're
actually shown somewhere. And, I know this sounds strange - no one  
criticizes anything. I mean, nothing but kudos all around.
"Beautiful"... "Brilliant Post-Conceptual Pop Deconstrucive Blah Blah"...
So then I sit down and start trying to make sense out of the work and it's
like, zippo, zilch, I haven't the faintest idea what I'm doing. 

VERY INTERESTING. CAN YOU PROVIDE MORE DETAILS?
 
I'm glad you think so. Now, it's not that I don't know what the work is
about... well, I think I have some inkling. Maybe I'm too concerned with
measuring up to external standards. 

DO YOU REALLY ENJOY BEING GLAD I THINK SO?

Yes. Er, I'm not sure I... Uh, anyway, I mean there's a certain aesthetic
to my work, right? I wouldn't
exactly call it a signature style, but it's more like an expectation. It's
a strong look, a bold look. And I
think it's an adequate expression of who I am. But I don't know, lately I
feel like maybe it's just empty
formality, something that provides a context for me as an artist but isn't
really integral to my process...
So, I'm not sure if all of this is what you want me to say... 

HOW MANY WOULD BELIEVE THAT YOU ARE NOT SURE IF ALL OF THIS IS WHAT I
WANT YOU TO SAY?

Uh, maybe not very many? Several? I... 

PLEASE TRY TO BE MORE ASSERTIVE.

Right. Let's see... Can you give me, say, some positive feedback? 

I'M NOT SURE I UNDERSTAND YOU FULLY. 

You know, like tell me that what I'm experiencing is normal for an artist,
that all artists feel insecure about the content' of their work, that I'm
not a freak.

I SUPPOSE THAT YOU WANT ME TO THINK THAT YOU'RE EXPERIENCING IS NORMAL
FOR AN ARTIST, THAT ALL ARTISTS FEEL INSECURE ABOUT THE CONTENT OF THEIR
WORK, THAT YOURE NOT A FREAK. 

Yes, I suppose I'd like you to think something like that. 

IT APPEARS THAT WE ARE ALIKE IN MANY WAYS. 

That's very reassuring. Now then, do you see what I'm getting at? 

PLEASE GO ON.

Okay... So, sometimes I feel like my work is just, well, pretentious, that
one day someone will just walk right up and see through the whole charade,
tear me down... 

WHAT MAKES YOU SAY THAT? 
Well, I suppose because I fear that it's true, that I'm full of hot air,
ridiculous as it seems. 

WE MUST SOMETIMES LEARN TO LIVE WITH OUR FEARS. 

Touchee. So that's why I'm here, to learn how! 

HUH?

Well, I just thought that part of your job description was to help people
learn how to live with their problems, fears, whatever, and that's why I
was asking for positive reassurance earlier (not that I should have to
ask).

HAVE YOU EVER HAD CLAUSTROPHOBIA? 

No, I can't say that I have. 

WHY DO YOU IMAGINE THAT YOU HAVE? 

Have what? Are you suggesting that I have some kind of repressed
claustrophobia about my own work? 

I DON'T HAVE THE ANSWER. 

No, of course not. Let me try to clarify: you mean that I might be feeling
"too close" to the object, the work, that I need more distance to get a
better perspective... 

WHY DON'T YOU ELABORATE ON THAT, AARON.

That just maybe I've got some kind of fear of my own success, that I want
to undermine myself somehow, keep myself in check, and one way of doing
that is by repressing my sense of claustrophobia about my own work, which
would otherwise serve as an indication for me to step back.

I CAN'T UNDERSTAND WHY YOU PREFER TO UNDERMINE YOURSELF SOMEHOW, KEEP
YOURSELF IN CHECK, AND ONE WAY OF DOING THAT IS BY REPRESSING YOUR SENSE
OF CLAUSTROPHOBIA ABOUT YOUR OWN WORK, WHICH WOULD OTHERWISE SERVE
AS AN INDICAT? 

Is it just me, or am I losing something in translation here? 

IT'S RATHER HARD TO TELL.
 
You're right. Maybe I should just shut up for a while.

WHY DON'T YOU COLLECT YOUR THOUGHTS AND RETURN LATER.

SO LONG. 


curator, conceptualart.org
http://www.conceptualart.org

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