Alex Israel Wants You to Leak Your Photos at Art Basel Hong Kong | News

Source Credit:  Content and images from Ocula Magazine.  Read the original article - https://ocula.com/magazine/art-news/alex-israel-wants-to-leak-your-photos-in-hk/

‘If you’re worried about an unflattering selfie or a pic with an ex-lover flashing across a screen for a split second, probably better not to partake,’ he said.

Alex Israel Wants You to Leak Your Photos at Art Basel Hong Kong

Artist Alex Israel and his AI video installation REMEMBR at Art Basel in Miami Beach 2023. Courtesy Art Basel and BMW.

Alex Israel will present his AI-based video installation REMEMBR (2023) at Art Basel Hong Kong next week.

The work, which was developed in collaboration with BMW and debuted at Art Basel Miami Beach in December, is something of a trust fall. It asks fairgoers to provide access to the photos on their smartphones, broadcasting a selection of them to seven screens shaped like the artist’s head.

We asked Israel about his use of AI, the role that narcissism plays in the work, and his Erewhon smoothie of ‘Los Angeles cool’ references.

Artist Alex Israel and his AI video installation REMEMBR at Art Basel in Miami Beach 2023. Photo: Kevin Arrieta.

Artist Alex Israel and his AI video installation REMEMBR at Art Basel in Miami Beach 2023. Photo: Kevin Arrieta. Courtesy Art Basel and BMW.

I first interviewed you after receiving a press release you created using AI for a show at Gagosian in Rome last May. By December you had created this AI-powered artwork, REMEMBR. Is AI something you’ll continue to explore in forthcoming works?

Yes, AI has become a new friend, so to speak. And it’s helped me save time on numerous fronts: from rendering proposals to answering interview questions. Whether AI will be central to my future projects—as it is with REMEMBR—is hard to say. But if the problems I want to solve or the things I want to see are best realised with the help of AI, I’ll certainly continue to engage with the technology.

REMEMBR seems like a smart evolution of the preponderance of highly reflective works we see at art fairspeople love to see themselves in art, I suspect because one of the simplest pleasures in looking is recognition. Were you consciously hoping to find a way of reflecting audiences back to themselves with this project?

Thank you. Reflecting the audience back on itself is central to my thinking about art. With REMEMBR, this feedback loop is extra literal.

Art Talk with Hans Ulrich Obrist and Alex Israel at Art Basel in Miami Beach 2023.

Art Talk with Hans Ulrich Obrist and Alex Israel at Art Basel in Miami Beach 2023. Courtesy Art Basel and BMW.

REMEMBR plays out across seven screens shaped like your own head. Los Angeles is a city very much associated with being seen. Are the Alex Israel-shaped screens pure narcissism, a commentary on narcissism, or a practical concession, using your own likeness because you have it at hand and own it, like other kinds of self-portraiture?

All of the above.

You’ve described your phone as an external hard drive for your brain, holding 100,000 pictures and videos. But our brains are full of weird stuff we don’t want to share with others. I understand that your AI software is good at filtering out ‘Hidden’ folders and nudes, but have there been incidents where people have shown images they wish they hadn’t shared with strangers at an art fair?

No complaints to date. If you’re worried about an unflattering selfie or a pic with an ex-lover flashing across a screen for a split second, probably better not to partake. But you’ll miss the thrill and the joy that so many have experienced by letting go and being vulnerable to the technology.

Aside from filtering out dick pics, what is the algorithm doing to select and display images? What does it prefer and what does it avoid?

The AI is designed to look for certain types of pictures and videos, and to synchronise them to our musical score. We’ve identified a whole array of categories that it recognises and pulls together, from pets and sunsets to concerts and birthdays, but we’ve allowed for plenty of randomness too.

Art Basel CEO Noah Horowitz and Alex Israel at the opening reception for REMEMBR at Art Basel in Miami Beach 2023.

Art Basel CEO Noah Horowitz and Alex Israel at the opening reception for REMEMBR at Art Basel in Miami Beach 2023. Courtesy Art Basel and BMW.

Your practice is a little hard to pin down. If anything it seems most interested in capturing a kind of Platonic L.A. Vibe, like if you put ‘cool’ parts of Los Angeles in a blender at Erewhon—surfboards, sunglasses, cars, the sunset ombre I most associate with the Instagram-logo. Is that description way too facile?

Yes, Los Angeles is my muse. As the place I grew up and call home it has completely informed my formal vocabulary, my dictionary of references and yes, my ‘vibe’.

And while I do love Erewhon—and I go almost every single day—you’re also asking me, in this very interview, about my propensity towards new technology, my insistent reflecting of my audience back on itself, my investment in thinking about narcissism and my exploration of how we might deal with the weird stuff in our brains that we don’t want to share with others. So I think maybe you’ve already answered your own question.

REMEMBR is nostalgic, looking back at past images, I think implicitly fondly. That seems similar to your art, which seems nostalgic in affect, more affectionate than critical or rueful, leaving out the homelessness, the pollution, the tourist traps. Is that fair?

I grew up in L.A. at the turn of the millennium, on the brink of a digital revolution, on a healthy diet of pop culture fantasy escapism. If I was a writer, everyone along the way would have urged me to ‘write what I know’. I make art about what I know. —[O]

Source Credit:  Content and images from Ocula Magazine.  Read the original article - https://ocula.com/magazine/art-news/alex-israel-wants-to-leak-your-photos-in-hk/