SUBSTRATA

2019 SPRING
GROUP PROJECT WITH YI-CHIN LEE, JIYUAN LI, ZIXIN YAO
PROFESSOR: EUNSU KANG

Despite the biomimicry of early neural networks, the performance of recent AI systems improves in leaps and bounds as intelligent agents crushing human pros at various venues where epitomes of human intelligence are displayed. It’s no longer sensible to anthropomorphize AIs not only because how their biological counterparts are dwarfed abysmally in comparison but also the logic underpinning their developments are more and more apathetic toward the neural substrates of a human brain. Our project explores this disheartening alienation between these two forms of intelligence by spotlighting what could be interpreted as one of its historical precedents in the recent past - an overcompensating trickery between the human body and its enclosure courtesy of the works by Iris van Herpen.

 

We see Herpen’s answers to donning as along the lineage of discontent toward the deadpan aesthetic of early modernism. For Herpen, the Cartesian grid and analytic geometry are far from satisfactory when it comes to the encasement of the human torso and she resorts to parametric articulation and algorithmic genesis as if those scrutinies could bring the garment on par with its living host. Those nonlinear compartments oozing perfection thrive and populate on top of a mundane anatomy and overshadow the somatic narrative that has triggered their formulation in the first place. How did a strategy that purported to harmonize and reconcile end up estranging and antagonizing? The project articulates those concerns and frustrations not to reinvent but to backpropagate, to take a bold leap back to a dangerously literal understanding of Herpen’s inception, in the form of a delusional remedy. We exploit the corrosive power of Style Transfer to corrupt Herpen’s picture perfect ascetics with a brute answer to what makes us human, our flesh and blood.