Robin on Abbas’s Me Myself and Ai

Abbas’s piece presents itself as a standard absurdist sculpture, surreal as a lobster telephone or fury teacup. A shopping trolley placed atop an ironing board embodies the Body Without Organs tying together disparate elements into a ‘plane of consistency’. But the title of the piece and the short film projected from the trolley portents to the nature of AI and the self. What would a ironing board or a dishwasher, a shopping trolley or Hoover make of its own identity?

The film element acts as kind of proxy for the ‘brain’ of the machine or in a Deleuzian sense an ‘affection-image”; the way a subject expresses itself from the inside. It brings the machine to life physically showing what ‘it’ has seen, what ‘it’ remembers and most intriguingly what ‘it’ thinks about ‘itself’. The film advances in fits and starts. It proceeds not through narrative but through breaks and interruptions, jumping between extremes of night clubs and living rooms, domestic items displayed as if idolatry. Its computer generated voice speaking in a confused stream of ‘consciousness’, unsure of its identity; a hipster or jihadi?

Taken as a whole this piece is real and not a representation. It is in the Deleuzian sense an abstract machine, nothing exists beyond it. Machines so say Deleuze eat, shit and fuck. Their internal flows autonomizing there existences. A new world has been created in Me, Myself and AI, an experimental feed back loop constructed from the commonplace into a new universe with an awareness of itself.  Cobbled together of ordinary household items it remains far from ordinary. Spotted later in the day outside of its studio confines, it appeared to have made its own way down to a lecture theatre, disassembled itself and hunkered down at the back of lecture on ART.

Quietly listening and remaining to the end, it appeared to be soaking up the experience, an autonomous crossbreed of shopping trolley and ironing board inquisitively in search of itself.

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