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Other Lives

AN EXHIBITION INSPIRED BY ALAN TURING

29/11/12-4/4/13

Featured artists: Turing Dames, Yonatan Ben-Simhon, Jack Kalish, Nurit Bar-Shai, Noa Geniger, Eran Hadas, Mushon Zer Aviv, Guy Yitzhaki, Jürg Lehni, Oz Malul, Miri Segal, Or Even-Tov, Adam Kaplan, Alexei Shulgin, Assaf Shaham, LoVid, Missdata

Curator: Maayan Sheleff


The Other Lives art exhibition will open at the Bloomfield Museum in Jerusalem on November 29, marking one hundred years since the birth of Alan Turing, and commemorating the life and work of the man who is widely regarded as the father of the modern computer. Some of the featured art was composed especially for the exhibition, while other works form a fascinating, entertaining, multi-layered context for Turing’s studies and research, principally artificial intelligence and the relationship between man and machine. The participating artists from Israel and abroad have created works in new-media, internet art, biological art, video, photography, installations and performance art, and are widely regarded as leading figures in their field.

Alan Turing was a mathematician, scientist and philosopher whose original thinking and research influenced generations of theoreticians, researchers, and innovators. His best known projects include the Turing machine, the precursor of the first computer. He also cracked the code of the German Enigma machine during World War II. He  believed in a future where machines could think. He proposed the Turing Test which posits that if, in a conversation with a computer, we can be fooled into thinking that  the computer is human, it can be argued that the computer is intelligent.

Turing, a homosexual, was forced to undergo chemical castration and hounded by the authorities until he ultimately committed suicide.

It would not be far fetched to assume that Turing believed in machines as entities free of the physiological confines of gender, and perhaps even free of the constraining social definitions inherent to race or nationality.

The works presented in Other Lives are the fruit of “collaborations” between artist and machine. They explore what it means to be human in a digital age, as people become increasingly dependent on intelligent machines. Have machines freed us from the confines of our bodies or have they enslaved us? Are machines becoming more human or are we becoming more mechanical?

Some of the exhibits depict machines that appear to have malfunctioned or taken on a life of their own. These mechanical creatures appear to be trapped inside a closed, autonomous system, yet they are intentionally inefficient, as if rebelling against their designated purpose. Their flaws make them more human, undermining the capitalist mantra that demands perfect functionality. Other works relate to language, which for  Turing was in fact intelligence. Language becomes a poetic tool, reflecting the blurring of boundaries between the human and the artificial. It generates connection and attraction, yet at the same time it spawns antagonism and conflict. Some of the works on exhibit relate to Turing’s morphogenetic research, exploring how organisms in nature acquire their shape as the result of diverse reactions. They create a shift in the traditional role of the artist, who changes from an all-knowing creator to a kind of research scientist.

Three Gallery Talks (In Hebrew) will be held on December 6, 13, and 20, on topics related to the exhibition, with the participation of the curator, artists and other guests:

6 December, 21:30 – 23:00: With Maayan Sheleff, Dr. Carmel Vaisman, Turing Dames, and Miri Segal

From the Turing Test to digital discourse. Dr. Carmel Vaisman will discuss hidden and overt rivalry between humans and algorithms as a catalyst for change in language and discourse. Dr. Vaisman is a lecturer in digital discourse in the Interdisciplinary Program in the Humanities of Tel Aviv University, and author of the book Internet Hebrew (in Hebrew).

Turing Dames will talk about their project, Liztush the Virtual Bimbo, which is on display at the exhibition. Deganit Elyakim (composer and sound artist), Eran Hadas (programmer), and Batt-girl (internet and interactive artist) integrate music, internet-art, song, algorithms, programs and more, to produce works that function around and within the internet era.  

Miri Segal is a new-media artist with a doctorate in mathematics. The recipient of the 2001 Gottesdiener Prize, she has exhibited in many forums, including PS1 in New York, the Tel Aviv Museum, and in galleries, museums and biennales around the world. Ms Segal, who will discuss her work, critically analyses various media forms and their place in culture. She creates sculptural video installations that impact on the viewer’s senses, altering the relationship between observer and observed, making us aware that our attitude is simultaneously participatory and voyeuristic.

13 December, 21:30 – 23:00:  With Nathan Zeldes.

Alan Turing: the man who dreamed of machines that think. During his brief life Alan Turing laid the foundations for studies in the field of computation, artificial intelligence, computer programming and software – all before computers actually existed. His practical work on cracking the code of the Enigma machine played a significant role in ensuring the defeat of Germany in World War II. Even more fascinating is his theoretical contribution to the perception of our minds as sentient computers, which sparked a revolution in philosophy and science equal in scope to that generated by Charles Darwin. The lecture reviews Turing’s life, his contribution  to science, technology, and philosophy – and the ruthless persecution that brought it all to an untimely end.

Nathan Zeldes, formerly a senior physicist and technologist with Intel, is a consultant for organizations and startup companies on topics relating to the junction between computer technology and human conduct.

20 December, 21:30 – 23:00:  With Maayan Sheleff, Tsilla Hassine, Dr. Ziv Ne'eman, and Yonatan Ben-Simhon.

Tsilla Hassine will discuss The philosophy of the Turing Test and the difference between man and machine. Tsilla Hassine is Missdata, an artist who questions the implications and significance of the digital paradigm in which we live. Her work examines how machines redefine archaic questions about identity, memory, history and knowledge. The alternatives she proposes are less efficient but more human.

Dr. Ziv Ne'eman lectures at Shenkar College. He is an artist and social activist whose doctorate, from Columbia University, dealt with early computers in the context of the Cold War. The life and work of Turing and his ongoing influence on various aspects of science and culture are a subject very close to his heart. Dr. Ne'eman is extremely knowledgeable about the many perspectives and aspects of this unique personality.

Yonatan Ben-Simhon holds a master degree in interactive telecommunications from New York University. As a research assistant at Cornell University, he dealt with texts through scientific research with DNA, and analyzed natural language as a USC software engineer at AOL universities. As an artist he employs new media in a performative, intimate manner, combining old and new technologies to explore processes such as change, progress, and communication. 

The activities and events relating to the exhibition are supported and sponsored by Intel.

Date Created: 28/11/12
Date Updated: 13/06/13