Beyond human art: creation and the posthuman

Sofian Audry (CA), Edwige Armand (FR), Gisèle Trudel (CA), Navid Navab (CA), Danny Perreault (CA)

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As the creative capabilities of nonhuman machines, materials and phenomena, as well as human collectives and businesses, become increasingly acknowledged, the frontiers of art as a human-centric activity are blurred and the figure of the artist as the ultimate source of artistic creation is shaken. This is happening in the context of the emergence of creative industries and the automation of creative labor through artificial intelligence, both of which threaten the role and status of the artist. At the same time, as societies are faced with dire global challenges which our current socio-economic and political systems seem unable to efficiently address, we are in urgent need for imagining and articulating alternative worldviews. Expanding Ada Lovelace’s thought about computing systems: can nonhuman machines and processes have any pretension to “originate anything”? Can art exist outside of its human framework, decoupled from the socio-techno-cultural context in which it is produced? How can we (re)imagine artistic creation in this new posthuman paradigm? In this round table, the participants approach these questions through the themes of metacreation, nonhuman creation in plants, ecosystems, environments, and excitable matter(ials), as well as human-nonhuman collaboration and co-creation.


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Sofian Audry: Sofian Audry is an artist, scholar, Professor of Interactive Media within the School of Media at the University of Quebec in Montreal (UQAM) and co-director of the Hexagram international network for research-creation in art, cultures and technologies. Their work is inspired from artificial intelligence, artificial life, biology and cognitive sciences. Their computational artistic practice branches through multiple media including robotics, interactive installations, immersive environments, physical computing interventions, internet art, and electronic literature. Audry is the author of the upcoming book Art in the Age of Machine Learning (MIT Press).

Edwige Armand: After studying visual arts, Edwige Armand pursued a master’s degree in digital creation, where questions of technology, the creative process and the living body are at the centre of her creations and her theoretical axes. Thanks to a thesis grant, she is building her research-creation around the notions of meta-body, infralanguage and singularity, which question the human and non-human future, and the perceptive and cognitive transformations engendered by the deployment of science and technology. She chairs the association Passerelle Art Science Technologie and is a member of the board of directors of the Transversale des Réseaux Arts Sciences. She teaches art at the Institut National Polytechnique (Toulouse).

Gisèle Trudel: Gisèle Trudel is an artist. She works under the name Ælab since 1996, an artistic research unit co-founded with Stéphane Claude. Ælab’s commitment to collaboration and creative dissemination are ways of thinking and doing that try to bridge different methods of inquiry. Their process-oriented investigations creatively engage art and technology as intertwined with philosophy. Trudel is a professor at UQAM’s École des arts visuels et médiatiques since 2003 and a member of Hexagram since 2004. She holds the Canada Research Chair MÉDIANE in Arts, Ecotechnologies of Practice and Climate Change (2020-2025).

Navid Navab: Navid Navab is a media alchemist, multidisciplinary composer, audiovisual sculptor, phono-menologist, perSonifier, gestureBender, and interdisciplinary artist-researcher. Interested in the poetics of schizophonia, gesture, materiality, and embodiment, his work investigates the transmutation of matter and the enrichment of its inherent performative qualities. Making the imperceptible palpable, Navid uses gestures, rhythms and vibration from everyday life as basis for real­time compositions, resulting in augmented acoustical­ poetry and painterly light that enchants improvisational, and pedestrian movements.

Danny Perreault: Danny Perreault is a researcher and artist. He creates audio-visual works, and participated in co-creation labs presented during internationals festivals in Canada, Europe and Africa. He holds a MA in communication (experimental media research-creation) from Université du Québec à Montréal. His master’s thesis, submitted in 2013, focused on video mapping. He is interested in both the aesthetic and social impacts of digital arts. He is currently pursuing a reaserch-creation PHD at UQAM’s communication faculty. His thesis project is questioning the uses of the participatory and creatives strategies behind the creation of digital scenographies. He is also supervising students in the development of interactive urban scenography projects.