March 22, 2021 - Artist Cinemas - Crashing into the Future: Week #5
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March 22, 2021

Artist Cinemas

Fei Yining and Chuck Kuan, Breakfast Ritual: Art Must Be Artificial (clip), 2019.

Crashing into the Future: Week #5
Fei Yining and Chuck Kuan, Breakfast Ritual: Art Must Be Artificial, 2019

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Join us on e-flux Video & Film for the online screening of Fei Yining's and Chuck Kuan’s Breakfast Ritual: Art Must Be Artificial (2019), the fifth installment of Crashing into the Future, on view from Monday, March 22 through Sunday, March 28, 2021 and featuring an interview with the filmmakers conducted by Evonne Jiawei Yuan.

Crashing into the Future is a six-part program of films and interviews put together by Cao Fei. It is the fifth cycle of Artist Cinemas, a long-term, online series of film programs curated by artists for e-flux Video & Film

Artist Cinemas presents Crashing into the Future   
Week #5: Monday, March 22–Sunday, March 28, 2021
Fei Yining and Chuck Kuan, Breakfast Ritual: Art Must Be Artificial, 2019
8:51 minutes

Breakfast Ritual presents a speculative glimpse into a post-Anthropocene future in which human civilization as we know it no longer exists. Over breakfast, an AI in the form of a young girl performs a ritual in semblance of Marina Abramović’s seminal work Art Must Be Beautiful, Artist Must Be Beautiful (1975). 

Excerpt from Fei Yining and Chuck Kuan in conversation with Evonne Jiawei Yuan

Evonne Jiawei Yuan (EJY):
[Would you say] the character [in your work] should not be seen as an avatar that manifests the self-existent psyches of its authors, but an AI with “painted” skin or an AI-controlled creature denying your authorship?

Fei Yining (FYN):
In Hinduism, the term “avatar” refers to a concept in which a deity makes an appearance on Earth in human form. While the relationship between embodiment and the embodied in the work does resemble this idea, it is also more complicated and layered. What we did here was not to deify ourselves through the avatar. If anything, it might be more accurate to say that ours is a portrayal of the (very non-human and incorporeal) beings of which this character is an avatar of.

EJY:
AI optimists like Ray Kurzweil of The Singularity is Near (2005) foresee a utopia where human and machine intelligence merge. Are you optimistic about the prospects of AI as well? Why is the statement “…art(ist) must be artificial…” delivered by the character in the first place? What is the value of artificiality?

FYN: 
Why “…art(ist) must be artificial…”? To ask that is to question: Is this the manifesto of the fictional character, or that of the artists themselves? I believe the answer is most likely neither. However, the absurd naivete of this statement allowed us to paint a possibly pessimistic picture of a techno-future world. Like how I often refer to the two screens in Breakfast Ritual as a self-contained and enclosed bubble, the thick white fog outside the window obfuscating the conditions of the state of humankind. What appears to be a dystopic future built upon the ruins of human civilization could just as likely be the fizzlings of the Anthropocene on its last legs. This work, this image, is the moment before the bubble bursts, an asymptotic descent into the bifurcation of the future.

Chuck Kuan (CK):
At the same time, we are caught in a collective oscillation between artificial intelligence anxiety to the point of paranoia, and confidence to the point of hubris. Is this repeating incantation not also a reflection of the self-hypnosis of our own times? “...art(ist) must be artificial…” Is that a descriptive statement or a prescriptive one—or both? Depending on your answer, you might find the character’s lingering chants transform from a warm embrace into a snake, and then maybe back again.

Watch the film and read the full conversation here.

About the program    
Various signs around us suggest that we have reached a moment where the contradictions accumulated by our history can no longer be sustained. A sense of déjà vu takes hold. Once again, the uneasy organisms of this planet look up and gaze at the cosmos as they hastily crash into the future...

Crashing into the Future brings together a selection of six works by video artists from China born in the late 1980s and 1990s. Most of the featured artists studied or lived abroad for some time, and their artistic practices reflect their diverse influences. The works are presented under three thematic junctions—Monstrosity, Ghost Worker, and Cosmos in Flux—that, together, constitute a kind of rhizome wherein meaning is produced in the space between the nodes. 

Crashing into the Future is a program convened by Cao Fei as part of the series Artist Cinemas. It will run for six weeks from February 22 through April 5, 2021, screening a new film each week accompanied by an interview with the filmmaker(s) conducted by Cao Fei and invited guests.

About Artist Cinemas     
Artist Cinemas is a new e-flux platform focusing on exploring the moving image as understood by people who make film. It is informed by the vulnerability and enchantment of the artistic process—producing non-linear forms of knowledge and expertise that exist outside of academic or institutional frameworks. It will also acknowledge the circles of friendship and mutual inspiration that bind the artistic community. Over time this platform will trace new contours and produce different understandings of the moving image.

For more information, contact program [​at​] e-flux.com.

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