“Unreal Window” by Chanhee Choi


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    Unreal Window

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Artist Statement:


    Unreal Window was inspired by zoom meetings during the covid-19 pandemic, the loneliness produced from the sense of being monitored, the painful absence of rapport that politeness dictates we have to pretend not to feel, the despair and creeping terror of not being able to connect with others physically, their smell, their touch, their heat, and longing for that which can only be shared through physicality.

    I wonder how far down this path we might go. If this situation continues until I die, then what does this mean for my identity? Who can I be under these circumstances? I ask, ‘Where do I exist?’ and if a part of the answer is in the digital, what does that imply about AI?In Unreal Window, I manifest myself fifteen to twenty times in embodiments of different ages and forms. I appear as a baby, a toddler, an adult, an elderly woman, and as a human-computer hybrid, a woman with a monitor for a head, forever in a zoom meeting. All versions of me are following after this hybrid as she flees – attempting to stay in the frame of the webcam, competing, desperate to show that they exist. I also attached a surveillance camera to each character, creating a scenario in which they are all constantly spying on each other.

    Unreal Window is a real-time virtual animation video that is designed for video game simulation, but this video game has no player. The computer’s systems play each other without the need for further input.

    Like I Ching, These characters are doomed to watch each other randomly and chase the camera infinitely in the auto-gameplay of machine composition (NPC) set to a chasing and fleeing game scenario. I wanted to create a situation without an end, both as a reflection of feeling of endlessness in this pandemic, and also so that the machine learning system could develop the action in ways that might surprise me. For example if the characters learn to chase and flee using obstacles and tools, what kind of relationships and environments might that produce?
    I wanted to know, in a place where everything is made with AI, would I feel like I could breathe? Is there a bottom to this abyss, or is it infinite sliding?

    I wonder whether we are actually in conversation when telecommuting. I can see the person I talk to only in a square box. Sometimes I feel confused whether I’m speaking to a real person or not, and I notice that I watch myself as I speak as much as I look at the other. I want to express this wandering between reality and unreality.

    I feel very anxious that communication and relationships between people might be lost in the absence of physical presence, and this virtual world will persist, existing online even as generations come and go. I’ve started thinking about the real meaning of confinement.


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