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  • Date
    09 NOVEMBER 2022
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    Who needs words when you have someone else dreaming for you? An interview with Glenn Marshall

    Giordano Bruno might be AI’s best interpreter: «Even if there were no hell, the thought and imagination of hell without a basis in truth would still really produce a true hell, for fantasy has its own type of truth. It can truly act, and can truly and most powerfully entangle in it that which can be bound, and thus the torments of hell are as eternal as the eternity of thought and faith»

    And yet one has to be even more radical in undermining the distinction physical1/digital, because a pragmatist approach (a taxonomy through the effects produced) leaves intact the idea that two very distant ontological realms are at play here.
    Your desires are nested online and implanted into you: good luck calling the digital world a hologram. The future precedes the present, time is the future unfolding before our own eyes as an experiment (already happened) by which our eyes are invented. Preemptive strikes, preemptive arrest, preemptive personalization...

    AI comes with its own nemesis: common sense. Our hope is that artificial intelligence will do to such a superficial distinction what Descola’s Beyond Nature and Culture did to dispel the binomial nature/culture.

    Outcome of a precise cosmology, it entails no universale value. A way of segmenting the real that does not float above history. An ontological knife that attests to a confined geography.
    The same applies to the aforementioned distinction we are trying to dissipate.

    Just an example, and one belonging to the dumbest tier. To most people photography maintains a testimonial value, it is still a faithful and authentic depiction of the “real thing”. What to make of this realness when it can be unnoticeably replaced by another version of itself? Except that this time around there were no subjects to portray, no camera to shoot with, no landscape to be immersed in. They weren’t born and yet they exist the same way you do. The images of the two of you are the same.

    This is just the beginning, you haven’t see anything.

    We need more refined ways to cut through the real, new methods to distribute it. Or rather, we shall recompose it with a little help from our beyond-life (which is not death) neighbor coming from latent space.

    In the first installment of this new column we interviewed Glenn Marshall, whose The Crow won the jury award at the Cannes Short Film Festival. Oddly enough, the response to each question was AI-produced. Who needs words when you have someone else dreaming for you?

    Dating back to its Discord days, StableDiffusion’s main command has always been “dream”. Lyotard had reasons to believe that «the dream- work does not think» and while I agree with such a sentiment it’s not because I believe there is a separation to be traced between so-called human thought and AI’s operations. Another quote: «The dream is not the language of desire, but its work. Freud, however, makes the opposition even more dramatic (and in doing so lets us in on a figural presence in discourse), by claiming that the work of desire is the result of manhandling a text. Desire does not speak; it does violence to the order of utterance. This violence is primordial». Do you think that AI and the unconscious work the same way? Is it primordial? 


    I cannot help myself but sense some hyperstition at work in Lyotard’s quote. What forces did AI unleash in the past to generate its future actualization (which is the very time we’re living in right now)? If Terminator is the movie that is often evoked when discussing hyperstition, who is/was AI’s Sarah Connor?



    There is a whole conversation (a bit paranoid one might say) going on about the role that AI will play in the social field: is AI the hand that feeds or the mouth that bites it?



    In your opinion, is AI a mirror or a prophecy still under construction?



    Do you think that AI will produce new post-anthropic practices? I am impatiently waiting – might do it myself – for a project focused on de- extinguishing species that disappeared: to “feed” the AI some verbal remnants of an extinguished animal and letting her imagine its figure (a coming back from a time that never was). What I’m referring to is the birth of a new ecology of the imaginary, a renewed comprehension of the way the imaginative gesture happens.



    If it were AI the one interviewing you, what is the question she would be posing?



    If AI was your mother what’s the first thing you’d tell her?


    The Crow

    In this animation, artificial intelligence is used to transform a dancer into a crow. The result is a haunting and compelling piece that follows the crow through its brief dance in a landscape of post-apocalyptic barrenness, to its inevitable demise.

    Director: Glenn Marshall

    Producer: Michael O'Neill

    Winner - Prix Ars Electronica (Honory Mention)

    Winner (Best Short Short) - Cannes Short Film Festival

    The Lumen Prize - current longlist

    Official Selection - Bolton International Film Festival

    Official Selection - Cleveland International Film Festival

    Official Selection - GalwayFilm Festival

    Based on the short film 'Painted' by Duncan McDowall and Dorotea Saykaly

    Music (Gnossienne No.3 by Erik Satie)

    Arranged and Performed by

    Romi Kopelman (

    AI Code source

    Pytii Colab Notebook (sportsracer48)

    Links to my Twitter, Instagram and NFTs

    A visual interview with Glenn Marshall.