Installation view of What Models Make Worlds: Critical Imaginaries of AI at the Ford Foundation Gallery, 2023—photo by Sebastian Bach.

What Models Make Worlds: Critical Imaginaries of AI
September 7th – December 9th, 2023
Ford Foundation Center for Social Justice
320 E 43rd ST, New York, NY

“What Models Make Worlds: Critical Imaginaries of AI,” a group exhibition featuring artists working across artificial intelligence systems to envision more just futures, is on view at the Ford Foundation Gallery in NYC through December 9th. Curated by Mashinka Firunts Hakopian and Meda Yesayan, the exhibition invites visitors to reflect on how current and future technologies might be otherwise imagined. What Models Make Worlds was originally presented at OXY ARTS, Occidental College’s public art space, under the title “Encoding Futures” in 2021.

“What Models Make Worlds” brings together artists who outline the boundaries of our present algorithmic visions and exceed them through transformative acts of world creation. The exhibition features the work of Algorithmic Justice League, Morehshin Allahyari, Andrew Demirjian & Dahlia Elsayed, Stephanie Dinkins, Aroussiak Gabrielian, Maya Indira Ganesh with Design Beku, Kite, Lauren Lee McCarthy, Mimi Onuoha, Niama Safia Sandy, Caroline Sinders, Astria Suparak, Mandy Harris Williams and Kira Xonorika.

Installation view of What Models Make Worlds: Critical Imaginaries of AI at the Ford Foundation Gallery, 2023—photo by Sebastian Bach.

The artists being displayed in this exhibit address how artificial intelligence shapes our modern algorithmic realities, highlighting how algorithms reproduce the tendencies of the people who code them. An example of this is Algorithmic Justice Leagues’ “Voicing Erasure,” which features a poem written by the founder, Dr. Joy Buolamwini, that is read with a collective voice urging listeners to take action to address how Black speakers are effectively erased by speech recognition.

The exhibition further explores the histories of technological erasure and presents works that intervene in those histories.  It also exposes the prevalence of surveillance in the digital space. In “LAUREN,” Lauren Lee McCarthy takes on the role of a human Amazon Alexa to show that when we invite AI systems into our homes, we don’t know what data will ultimately be used. The featured artworks nod towards a hopeful future, imagining artificial intelligence frameworks informed by feminist analysis and indigenous knowledge systems.

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