In 2003, futurist philosopher Nick Bostrom published a landmark paper titled “Are You Living in a Computer Simulation?” This paper argues that at least one of the following propositions is true: (1) the human species is very likely to go extinct before reaching a “posthuman” stage; (2) any posthuman civilization is extremely unlikely to run a significant number of simulations of their evolutionary history (or variations thereof); (3) we are almost certainly living in a computer simulation.
Simulant Dystopia dissects the simulation hypothesis by considering the methods of human extinction, obstacles or distractions to human progress and by engaging with the possibility of human-digital hybrids and life inside the simulation.
Born from a meditation on life in Northern Florida and rendered in silver-lined blown glass, Andrew Erdos’ Psychotropic Swamp Palace Mouse is a reflective and sardonic creature that visits you in a state of delirium and encourages you to question reality and follow it into the moonlit swamp. Carla Gannis’ Until the End of the World is an operatic moving image work that speaks to notions of feminist selfhood and post-human potentiality in the digital age. Jim D’Amato’s biomorphic paintings, rendered with a machine like precision, blur the line between abstraction and representation, objective reality and dreams. Joel Cretan’s hardware hacked Super Nintendo gives weight to simulation argument through its imaginative view of process, materials and interactivity. Psykosmos (Nicolas Kouri & Andrea Vigil) delve into the world of subatomic weirdness and consciousness expansion while illuminating symptoms of a pragmatically programmed sensory experience. Sean Capone’s digital animations address the physical vs. digital future of humanity, using CGI characters and absurdist texts to explore the body horror of the uncanny valley. From 2045, Taezoo Park’s Digital Being, a consciousness born from forgotten and abandoned technology, remembers scenes from 2019 New York City.
The works in Simulant Dystopia reflect an anxiety about the ability of humans to technologically and intellectually outpace environmental and social collapse. They doubt our ability to reach the posthuman stage, and warn against relinquishing control to the machines that we create in our bid for survival and transcendence.
More about Syntax Projects
Syntax was founded to create new kinds of art experiences that push the boundaries of exhibition design and bring together artists of diverse backgrounds, styles and career levels to create a space for new ideas to flourish and cross pollinate.