“Ventriloquist Ontology” by Afroditi Psarra

  • ©, , Ventriloquist Ontology
  • ©, , Ventriloquist Ontology


    Ventriloquist Ontology

Artist(s) and People Involved:



Artist Statement:

    Ventriloquist Ontology is a media performance that conceptually stems out of philosophical ideas that are rooted in the realms of Posthumanism, Actor Network Theory and Object-Oriented Ontology. Inspired by Alejandro Jodorowsky’s dystopian theatrical play The School of Ventriloquists, it encompasses the creation of a modular wearable, trained using Natural Language Processing to create its own language that manifests in the form of speech and movement actuation. It explores the idea of soft control and points of hybridization between human and machine through the relationship of a performer and a wearable entity. This soft modular entity speaks through text generated using the GPT-2 language model, trained on a dataset of texts around biopolitics, algo-governance, the surveillanced body, and queer theory. The softness aspect of its control refers to the plasticity of the interface, the malleability of its hardware connections, the suggestive nature that the GPT-2 generated text pertains to, and the indicative nature of the movement of the actuators. Sequentially, it brings forth the soft data of the body inextricably linked to ideas of care and intimacy, as well as to the pliability of the different levels of interpretation between the human and the machine. The aspect of control is tied to the cybernetic idea of steering the body to its optimal movement through a feedback loop between machinic language, and human assimilation. It also deals with the hardness of the linear actuators and the microcontroller that manipulates them, to the domination of these mechanical components over the softness and vulnerability of the human flesh. Ultimately, the idea of ventriloquism is used to give agency to an ontological entity comprised of subtle suggestive wearable modules, human flesh and cognitive motor abilities, born-digital, able to produce novel language, but also conditioned to reproduce the biases of its algorithmic parts.

Additional Images:

  • ISEA2022: Psarra_Ventriloquist Ontology


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