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Zhou Zhou

AI, Post-Humanism, Performance



Talk, Zhou Zhou, 2023. Dance Performance. 30 mins.

"Talk" epitomizes the harmonious fusion of human movement and cutting-edge technology in a captivating contemporary dance performance. Central to this artistic endeavor is an AI-embedded interactive music system, ingeniously marrying technology with art. As dancers move across the stage, their motions are intricately captured and translated into a rich tapestry of sounds by the AI system, crafting a symphony as diverse and fluid as the dance itself.

More than a mere dance, "Talk" represents a profound conversation between the body, space, and sound. It's a dialogue conducted without words, where each movement articulates deep emotions and narratives, resonating through the generated music and visuals. The system, finely attuned to each movement, mirrors the dancers' expressions in sound, offering a compelling exploration of non-verbal communication.

"Talk" invites audiences to a multisensory experience where human grace melds seamlessly with digital intuition. This performance transcends traditional art forms, presenting a unique journey that intertwines motion, sound, visuals, and the unseen digital force behind it. It's an exploration of a new realm of artistic expression, where the boundaries between the physical and digital dissolve, leaving a lasting impression of beauty and innovation.

Artist Interview

Q: In this new edition of the UAAD online magazine, we're exploring the theme of "[Matrix] of the [Not-Yet]." How would you interpret these two words, and how do you see your work aligning with the concepts of [Matrix] and [Not-Yet]?

The term "Matrix" in this context can be understood as a complex and interconnected framework or environment where various elements interact and influence each other. In the artistic sense, it suggests a space where different dimensions — biological, ecological, spiritual, cultural, social, technological, historical, political, and philosophical — intersect to create a fertile ground for new ideas and expressions. It embodies a web of potentialities that are interconnected and dynamic.

The concept of the "Not-Yet" refers to the potential future states that are not yet realized but are possible and could emerge from the current dynamics and interactions within the "Matrix." It suggests a space of becoming, where new forms, ideas, and possibilities are in a constant state of emergence, driven by the interactions within the matrix. It’s about exploring uncharted territories and envisioning what could be, beyond the limitations of what currently exists.

In "Talk," the integration of contemporary dance with new media art and AI-driven interactive music creates a matrix of human and digital interaction. This matrix is not just about the technology or the dance alone but the way these elements are interwoven to produce a new kind of performance art. Our practice exemplifies a living matrix where technology, human movement, sound, and visual arts intersect, influencing and enhancing each other to create a unique and dynamic artistic experience.

"Talk" embodies the essence of the "Not-Yet" by pushing the boundaries of traditional dance performances to include technological interactions that are predictive and responsive. This not only challenges the conventional paradigms of audience engagement and artistic expression but also explores the future possibilities of performance art. My project represents the juncture where the past (traditional dance), the present (contemporary expression), and the future (AI and technology integration) converge, creating a space where new possibilities for art and communication are constantly being imagined and realized.

Q: We are very interested in the trajectory of your creative practices and their connection to the theme. Could you provide us with a little more information about your background?

My creative journey is deeply rooted in a fascination with the interplay between technology and human expression. Initially, I pursued a degree in Architecture, which nurtured my abilities in critical thinking and impactful storytelling. Following this, my experience in Creative Computing allowed me to refine my skills in software programming and digital design. This diverse background endowed me with a robust design-thinking framework and a comprehensive toolkit, enabling me to explore and experiment with new media forms and narrative environments.

My artistic practice underwent a transformative shift when I was captivated by the possibilities of interactive technologies within the performing arts. This burgeoning interest prompted collaborations with other artists, aimed at bridging the gap between digital innovation and traditional performance forms. My project "Talk" epitomizes these explorations, blending contemporary dance with advanced AI-integrated interactive music systems.

The concept of the "Matrix" deeply resonates with my work, as I perceive it as a complex interweaving of technology, art, and human interaction. Each performance of "Talk" is a vibrant experiment within this matrix, where movement and sound are not just synchronized but are dynamically generated and intricately linked.

Regarding the "Not-Yet", my work is an ongoing journey to expand the boundaries of what can be achieved through the integration of motion and sound. Leveraging AI and motion capture technology, "Talk" ventures into new realms of performance, where each movement unlocks novel acoustic and visual experiences. This continuous exploration of emerging possibilities exemplifies the perpetual state of becoming that defines the "Not-Yet".

In conclusion, my background and current work thrive at the intersection of artistic experimentation and technological innovation. I am committed to advancing this nexus, exploring how these tools can not only coexist but synergistically enhance one another to create profound new forms of artistic expression and meaningful storytelling.

Q: The creators participating in this magazine work across various mediums, including moving images, interactive installations, music composition, etc. What factors influence your choice of medium for your works?

Technological Affinity: My background in creative computing and digital design drives me to leverage technologies that can enhance traditional art forms. The integration of AI and motion capture technology in "Talk," for example, reflects this affinity, allowing for a deeper exploration of how these tools can augment and transform artistic expression.

Audience Experience: I aim to create works that push the boundaries of multisensory experience. This often leads me to choose mediums that are dynamic and interactive, such as contemporary dance integrated with interactive music and new media art, which encourage audiences to experience art in a more immersive way.

Conceptual Alignment: The medium must align with the conceptual goals of the project. For instance, the use of interactive music systems and motion sensors in "Talk" is integral to conveying the themes of interconnectedness and the fluidity between the physical and digital realms.

Innovative Potential: I am drawn to mediums that allow experimentation and innovation. This pursuit often guides me towards emerging technologies and unconventional methods that push the boundaries of traditional art forms, exploring new possibilities and expressions.

Narrative Possibilities: The medium must effectively convey the narrative and emotional undertones of the work. In "Talk," the creation of choreography, sound, and visuals enhances the storytelling through non-verbal means, enriching the narrative depth and emotional resonance of the performance.

Q: How does your work reflect or actively engage with the cultural and social dynamics of your community or the communities you interact with? Are there elements in your art that seek to bridge, disrupt, or transform these dynamics?

"Talk" actively engages with digital culture through an innovative form of performance art. This fusion fosters dialogue by breaking down traditional barriers between performers and audiences, creating a participatory experience that bridges generational divides and introduces new technological forms of expression. By incorporating interactive elements and subtle social commentaries, the project disrupts conventional artistic norms and prompts reflection on technology's role in society, thus transforming how communities interact with and perceive art. This approach not only reflects the diversity within the community but also challenges and redefines cultural and social dynamics, making each performance a shared, evolving cultural experience.

Q: What real-world strategies or methodologies do you employ in your art practice to manifest your visions of the future? How do these tactics serve as forms of resistance or intervention within the current socio-political landscape?

In my art practice, I employ strategies such as integrating technologies, fostering interdisciplinary collaborations, and enhancing community engagement to manifest visions of the future. These methods not only challenge traditional artistic expressions but also serve as powerful interventions within the socio-political landscape. By transforming the audience into active participants and weaving narratives that address critical social issues, my work disrupts conventional viewer-performer dynamics and democratizes both the creation and experience of art. Additionally, by embracing critical practices aligned with digitalization movements, I underscore the role of artists in advocating for social responsibility. Collectively, these strategies act as forms of resistance, stimulating dialogue, reshaping perceptions, and driving change in our current cultural and social norms.

Q: How do you hope your work impacts its viewers or participants, particularly in terms of rethinking potential futures or alternate realities? Who do you perceive as your audience?

I aspire for my work to serve as a catalyst for viewers and participants to reimagine potential futures and explore alternate realities. Through the integration of art and technology in projects like "Talk," I aim to challenge conventional perceptions of time, space, and interaction. This encourages audiences to consider not just what is, but what could be—enabling a shift from passive consumption to active engagement in the creation and contemplation of future possibilities.

The multi-sensory experience made with advanced technologies and artistic expression invites participants to physically and emotionally engage with the artwork, fostering a personal connection that deepens their understanding of the themes explored. By presenting a blend of reality and speculative futures, my work strives to inspire hope and provoke thoughtful reflection on how our actions today could shape tomorrow. The goal is to encourage a sense of agency and responsibility among viewers, prompting them to consider how they might actively participate in the creation of a desired future.

My audience primarily consists of those who are open to new experiences and ideas—individuals curious about the intersection of art, technology, and society. This includes tech enthusiasts, art lovers, and advocates for social change, spanning a range of ages and backgrounds. These are people who not only appreciate artistic innovation but are also engaged in discussions about the future and our role in shaping it. By targeting such a diverse audience, I aim to bridge various cultural and generational gaps, creating a broad and inclusive dialogue about the future.

Q: As a creator, what do you see as the threats or uncertainties we will face in the coming decade?

The increasing integration of digital technology in everyday life not only raises concerns about privacy and surveillance, potentially compromising our autonomy and freedom, but also risks creating a digital divide that exacerbates social inequalities by limiting access to resources for underserved populations. Additionally, the global reach of digital platforms threatens to dilute local cultures and traditions, leading to cultural homogenization where unique identities may be overshadowed by dominant media narratives. Moreover, the environmental impact of technological advancements, including the production and disposal of electronic waste and the energy demands of data centers, challenges creators to adopt sustainable practices and mitigate ecological damage. Lastly, as technologies like AI evolve to mimic human behaviors and make autonomous decisions, they present complex ethical dilemmas, emphasizing the responsibility of creators to ensure these technologies uphold human values.

Q: What motivates you to continue creating as an artist?

My motivation as an artist stems from a profound desire to explore and express the complexities of human experience through the unique lens of technology and art. I am driven by the potential of art to connect with people on a deep emotional level, challenging their perceptions and encouraging them to see the world in new ways. The process of creation itself is a constant source of inspiration, as each project brings new challenges and opportunities for growth and discovery.

Moreover, the ability to contribute to important conversations about the future of society, technology, and our environment fuels my commitment to my work. I am motivated by the impact that art can have in sparking dialogue, inspiring change, and providing a reflective space for people to contemplate the bigger questions of our time. The feedback and engagement from audiences who interact with my work reinforce the value of what I do and push me to continuously evolve and innovate.

Ultimately, the pursuit of new knowledge and the satisfaction of bringing visions to life that might otherwise remain unexplored or misunderstood are what drive me to continue creating as an artist.

Q: Are there any theories, books, or artists you would like to recommend in your current areas of interest?

Artist: Alva Noto, Thom Yorke
Theories: Embodied cognition, Transhumanism, Posthumanism

Q: If you could possess a superpower, what would it be?

For superpower, teleportation would be a good choice for me since travel can often be a hassle, and the need for visas to enter unfamiliar territories make things more complex.

About the Artist

Zhou posits that cognition involves computational processes over symbolic representations. Furthermore, technology serves as an extension of our senses and an intrinsic element of our physical existence. It continues to mold our perception of both the inner and outer worlds.

©2024 Underground Art And Design LLC | ISSN 2835-284X

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