Taking my queue from my essay "On Mythology & Science", where I announced my decision to take as the curatorial foundation of the forthcoming program of my art gallery, the exploration of the relationship between the roots of our culture and the future of our species, I initiated the process of pulling-in the works that could best illustrate my ideas, but it soon became apparent that I would need call on "non-artistic" objects to develop the juxtapositions necessary to link mythology to science.
Take for example Auguste Rodin's Pygmalion et Galatée and my thoughts about how Ovid's ancient myth in fact foreshadows our creation of artificial intelligence (AI):
Wrapping my mind around these momentous subjects, I came to muse upon the foundations of Western culture, and a moment not so distant, when our forefathers laid the intellectual grounds of our civilisation, a time inhabited still with the heroes of Greek mythology, a world in which humans and Gods interacted. As one of the early accounts of the genesis of the world, Greek mythology has had an extensive influence on the culture, arts, and literature of Western civilisation, therefore it should come as no surprise that certain aspects of the moment we are in seem like the realisation of ancient myths.
In this light, our relatively recent successful creation of the machine as a complement to humanity; as a partner of sorts; as an assistant or “friend” -call her Siri or Cortana, Big Blue, AlphaGo or Watson, recalls Ovid’s re-visitation of an ancient Greek myth in which Pygmalion, a Cypriot sculptor who carved a woman out of ivory that was so beautiful and realistic, fell in love with her. When came Aphrodite’s festival day, Pygmalion made offerings at her altar and he wished for a bride who would be the living likeness of his carved creation. When he returned home, he kissed his ivory statue, and found that its lips felt warm. He kissed it again, and found that the ivory had lost its hardness. Aphrodite had granted Pygmalion's wish.
Auguste RODIN (1840-1917)
Pygmalion et Galatée, 1900-1905
Bronze 42,1 x 27 x 31 cm
in order to interpret the relationship between our ancient yearning to create a Galatea, and our recent invention of AI, I chose the iPhone 4 that had served me so well from early 2011. In addition to the aesthetic appeal of this particular model, it is precisely on October 4, 2011 that Apple's intelligent personal assistant Siri was initially released. For many of us, this was the first time we spoke to a machine, and actually got a verbal answer!
As it turns out, it is most likely that we are about to do away with the need for a physical object because as explained in a recent article in the Independent "the smartphone is eventually going to die, and then things are going to get really crazy". Therefore my iPhone 4 will soon be a precious relic of a time that will be seen as pivotal in the evolution of our species.
So in a Duchampian gesture of appropriation, I decided to "enshrine" this object in a glass dome, much like a religious artefact, and affix to the newly minted readymade a metal plaque, in order to save its identity for posterity. The work would then need to be accompanied by a certificate of authenticity.