🜃 i : Towards Earthly Technosymbiogenesis

Matthew C. Wilson

Two interconnected trends will likely shape the rest of the century: anthropogenic climate change and the rise of artificial intelligence. It is crucial to work through the affinity and antagonism of these interpenetrating forces.

Through a short future fiction, developed and presented as an experimental film, this project prototypes possible roles of AI in reforming human ⇄ environment interaction through both social metabolism and social imaginaries, as well as individual cognition.

Critiques of AI point to its bias, connection to colonial legacies, and dependency on extractivism, raising concerns AI will perpetuate systems of inequity and exploitation of people and planet. New earthly operating principles must be instilled and installed through hyperstitions, re-coding social values at every scale. At the level of algorithms themselves, for example, can generative cooperative networks displace generative adversarial networks? Can AI uncover new forms of renewability and coordinate an earthly commons — bypassing market arbitration of resource distribution — to address ongoing regional scarcities?

Brains emerged from the Earth, through processes driven in part by changing climate, shifting landscapes. AI operates on substrates drawn from the same Earth — landscapes, reorganized as semiconductors — on a powergrid still largely charged through extractivism. AI is used to analyze patterns in Earth systems and human cognition. While these research applications of narrow artificial intelligences remain unconnected, might they someday be linked through a general artificial intelligence or other integrative means? What will it be like to interact, experience, even share a cognitive landscape with such an integrated intelligence?

This project is proposed as a concept, deliberately open-ended in order to allow a process-oriented approach with ample space for conversation and collaboration with academic and scientific interlocutors. These exchanges will feed into the filmic prototype, an experience that will cascade across scales and materialities of human, machine, and environment. 

Matthew C. Wilson is an American artist, filmmaker, and researcher based in the Netherlands. In Wilson’s films/videos, sculptures, and installations viewers encounter a range of agents and intelligences entangled in natural processes and shape-shifting historical forces. His projects utilize research-based, site-specific, and methodologically eclectic approaches to track the inertia of Modernity — through contemporary ecological crises and technological transformations — into speculative futures.

Wilson holds an MFA in Visual Arts from Columbia University in the City of New York and undergraduate degrees in Literature and Art/Design from North Carolina State University. He has been a participant in the Whitney Museum of American Art Independent Study Program and numerous residencies including Aalto University, Jan van Eyck Academie, Tabakalera, Terra Foundation, CSAV/Fondazione Antonio Ratti, and Skowhegan. His work has been supported by grants, fellowships, and commissions from Mondriaan Fonds, Forecast Platform, Kone Foundation, Talbot Rice Gallery at Edinburgh University, and the European Commission through the NEARCH project. His moving image work has screened on Vdrome.org, at IFFR — International Film Festival Rotterdam, the Eye Filmmuseum in Amsterdam, and Círculo de Bellas Artes in Madrid, among others. Gallery exhibitions include: Het Nieuwe Instituut, Rotterdam, NL; Marres, Maastricht, NL; Exhibition Research Lab, Liverpool, UK; and The Brooklyn Rail Curatorial Projects, Brooklyn, New York, US. Wilson is currently a tutor in the F for Fact MA at the Sandberg Institute in Amsterdam, NL.