Generated Adversarial Nausea

A medium angle photo of four (out of 10 total in the installation) bright LCDs displaying a static image that loosely resemble human beings. The screen is attached to a microcontroller and hangs on the wall with four pushpins. A 12 volt power supply connects at the bottom of the microcontroller and then threads into the wall.A closeup photo of two (out of 10 total in the installation) bright LCDs displaying a static image that loosely resemble human beings. The screen is attached to a microcontroller and hangs on the wall with four pushpins. A 12 volt power supply connects at the bottom of the microcontroller and then threads into the wall.A closeup photo of a bright LCD displaying a static image that loosely resembles a person. The screen is attached to a microcontroller and hangs on the wall with four pushpins. A 12 volt power supply connects at the bottom of the microcontroller and then threads into the wall.A closeup photo of a bright LCD displaying a static image that loosely resembles a person. The screen is attached to a microcontroller and hangs on the wall with four pushpins. A 12 volt power supply connects at the bottom of the microcontroller and then threads into the wall.A wide angle shot displaying 10 bright LCDs, each with static image that loosely resemble human beings. Each screen is attached to a microcontroller and hangs on the wall with four pushpins. A 12 volt power supply connects at the bottom of the microcontroller and then threads into the wall.

 

(5 images)

 


Hiatal. 2020. 7 minutes, 50 seconds. Digital Video.

Image Description: This video is comprised of five separate scenes, each taking place in the environment of a stock photograph: a couch in a living room in an exposed brick apartment, a large bedroom with a full-sized mirror and bright light from the windows, a clean kitchen in a bright white apartment, a bathroom consisting of a single white toilet, and a long hospital hallway with a single vanishing point. There is one figure in each of the scenes, and using the 3D software Blender, I attempted to turn each of these figures inside out. In the process, they deflate, twist, hollow-out and slip into the cracks of their environment. The sound emanating from two speakers hung on either side of the video projection is used to further bring the scene to life. The rustling of fabric describes the movements of the figures on screen, while radios, birds, clocks, and other voices, all describe things happening in the periphery.


Excerpt, Hiatal. 2020. Documented at Mason Gross Galleries, New Jersey.

Image Description: The video described above documented in an exhibition space where it is projected to fill the entire width of a wall. A one minute segment.

At the same time that early film audiences saw themselves and their newly industrializing environments projected in front of their eyes at a larger-than-life scale, microbiologists were making and screening stop-motion films of their discoveries under the microscope at an equally monumental size. I am fascinated by this simultaneous cinematic development and its theoretical audience member who witnesses, on the same screen, both the massive growth of the human-made environment and the frenetic construction and splitting of human cells. While the built world projected back on itself is redundant in stating its agency, the cellular world cast in front of the same eyes that it constitutes marks a radical shift in understanding selfhood.

As an experiencer of an invisible and undiagnosed chronic nausea these past four years, I have had to contend with my own shifting beliefs in visuality and unaided eyesight. While my socialized body has struggled to keep pace with its pre-nauseated self, my medicalized body tries to reveal its miscalibrations to anyone who might diagnose me through bloodwork, x-rays, MRIs, phone apps and other machine-augmented visualizations meant to bring causality to the surface.

To a greater degree and larger scale than the microscopes of the late nineteenth century, artificial intelligence and its detection of visual and data-based patterns, extends visual representation beyond ocular vision and its implied singularity of subjecthood to an expansive neural network of learned and generated information. It is crucial to me as both a patient and a visual artist to experiment and find meaning in the growing chasm between the world retrievable through my eyes and one that operates in unequaled energy and paranoia beneath the surface.

The images displayed on ten separate LCD screens that make up one half of the series Generated Adversarial Nausea are made by training a neural network (a fundamental component of artificial intelligence) to learn the visual attributes of two distinct sets of digital photographs and then generate new hybrid images based on what it learns. The two sets I used for this training process take completely different approaches to externalizing an internal lived condition. One set of images consists of hundreds of stock photo thumbnails of nauseated people downloaded from 123rf.com, while the other is made up of hundreds of selfies I have taken over the past four years while living with an undetectable illness. The people who inhabit the stock photographs demonstrate nausea with exaggerated facial expressions and physical contortions. Meanwhile, the subtle expressions and gestures found in my selfies belie my internal lived condition.

The title Generative Adversarial Nausea is a play on the acronym G.A.N. which stands for generative adversarial network. GANS are a relatively recent (2014) breakthrough in artificial intelligence that initiate learning through self-deception. A GAN is a two-part system in which one network (the “generator) creates new images based on what it learns from an original set of images it trains on, while another network (the “discriminator”) tries to determine whether these images are based in reality or synthesized. Managing an undiagnosed chronic condition yields a similar division of self into an experiencer and a diagnoser. Experiences of nausea and patienthood are often defined by the body failing to turn itself inside out; and that is what the figures in the video component of this series attempt to do. In the process, they deflate, twist, hollow-out and slip into the cracks of the static, stock-photo environments I have composited them back into. Perfectly clean stock-photo backgrounds and forced self-diagnosis via late-night Google searches (another form of artificial intelligence at play) all suggest frictionless integration with pre-defined modes of inhabiting both body and space. This work seeks playful friction with normalized standards for taking up space in places defined by productive labor, exchange, and legibility; offering an entanglement of externalized and internalized states of selfhood.