Tuesday, April 28, 2015


Where There's Life There's... Oil on linen 92 x 102 cm 2015

In a recent post In Sight I wrote about an article Terminator Robots and AI Risk by Meia Chita-Tegmark. She is a PhD candidate at Boston University and a co-founder of the Future Of Life Institute, a research think- tank focused on mitigating existential risks, including those posed by human level artificial intelligence [AI].

Chita-Tegmark's article discussed how we humans 'embody' fears of artificial intelligence in the form of killer/terminator malevolent robots, often fantastically portrayed in science fiction movies. She suggests this is a misplaced fear, because the really frightening issue about AI is that it's mostly unseen...unseen code...strings of zeros and ones. She writes It's almost like we need to give our fears an embodied anchor or it's not scary anymore. But what is the price we pay for the sensation of fear that we need to nurture through embodied representations? I believe the price is blindness to the real danger. She goes on to say Evolution has not equipped us to deal with such ghostly entities that don't come in the form of steel skeletons with red shiny eyes, but in the form of menacing arrangements of zeros and ones.

So please read Chita-Tegmarks article  because....!!
it inspired my painting :

Where There's Life There's...

The painting is a landscape, but no 'normal' landscape. Why? Because it attempts to track the unseen code of life. Yep, that's it! Needless to say there are a few BIG questions. Is this code expressed by the tree, my much loved age-old transcultural/religious tree-of-life, with all its spiritual, visceral, cultural, religious, biological, vascular-like, symbolic contingencies and more? All those things that propel life and we take for granted.

Or, is there another kind of code? If you look closely [see detail images below] I have repeatedly painted LIFE in binary code, as if it is an extension of one of the tree's branches. Remnants of the branch appear intermittently along the binary code's trajectory, until they no longer appear...or maybe are not needed?

More questions:
Is the code of zeros and ones attempting to mimic life? Or, is it attempting to replace life with something completely alien? Is its intent to augment life or hijack it? Does it even have 'intent'? Even proposing 'intent' gives AI human-like qualities and this maybe dangerous too.

Chita-Tegmark's description of menacing arrangements of zeros and ones does not, upon initial sight, apply to the zeros and ones in my painting. My zeros and ones, I think, are quite beautiful and languid. They almost dance across the 'landscape' like a swarm of small butterflies. But, this is where the menace lies, don't you think? Mimicry is normally for seductive purposes and we humans certainly have been seduced by unseen zeros and ones...think of social media, data collection, online buying and selling and so much more. Zeros and ones re-purpose and control so much of our lives!

DETAIL Where There's Life There's...

Chita-Tegmark explains, in reference to unseen menacing arrangements of zeros and ones....

So, even if we do not feel the fear, we need to understand it.

I agree. And, suggest that art is a way of making 'visible' the unseen...not in a didactic or merely illustrative way, but in a suggestive, conversational and playful way, that provokes questions and wonderings.

   DETAIL Where There's Life There's...

Where There's Life There's...
The title of my painting plays on the old saying...Where there's life there's hope


The new 'old saying' is:

Where there's life there's code

Ok ...let's lighten it up a bit:

Where there's life there's joy - love - laughter - LIFE

I like to think the roots of my tree in Where There's Life There's... hold hopeful clues!


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I went to the most marvellous stand-up comedy gig last week.

Happiness Through Science

I can honestly say this was one of the most passionate, intelligent, inspiring events I have been to in a long time. Robin was meant to perform for 90 mins, but he went way over time...and nobody minded.

Here's the painting that has been selected as a finalist for the Moreton Bay Art Award, packed up and ready to go. Actually the carrier has already been and it's on its way. The award is announced Friday 15 May.


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