Not Only RGB (Decentraland, October 2022-June 2023) is a MoCDA group show supported by Decentraland DAO featuring works created by Kevin Abosch, Matt Kane, 38‰ (Mattia Cuttini and Luca Donno), Sarah Meyohas and Mathieu Merlet-Briand.
This is a Q&A session featuring curators Chiara Braidotti and Anastasia Pineschi in conversation with artist Sarah Meyohas about "Cloud of Petals".
What surprised you most about the petals the men selected? Was there a typical ‘type’ of rose petal they liked most often?
It was interesting to see how different men made their choices. Some opted for the most symmetrical petals with the least imperfections, reflecting a more traditional concept of beauty. Others were iconoclasts, selecting the strangest, most unique petals. The outsiders.
Why was it important to film the project in Bell Labs and to have 16 men performing in it?
I wanted to give the solemnity of a ritual to data collection, and Bell Labs provided a mythic setting. Masculine hands handling the delicate, feminine petals inverted the gender expectations typically associated with fine handiwork.
May the use of the rose be interpreted as a direct commentary on things like dating apps which allow algorithms to select partners for us based on a set of mysterious computations and vague concepts? While it wasn't my initial intention, that interpretation is certainly valid. I saw the petals as individual identities, each with its own unique shape and color, similar to humans.
Why did you feel it was important to put yourself in the work? The decision was frankly somewhat impulsive. I wanted to capture the triangulation of the gaze, with me observing the men as they examined the petals. Additionally, this wasn't a narrative film, but rather a documentary. The men weren’t pretending to photograph roses for the sake of the camera, they were genuinely engaged in the task, so there was an authenticity in me being there to orchestrate it.
What was the most difficult part of the project? The most rewarding? The most difficult part was moving a lot of really heavy buckets filled with roses in and out of a fridge to keep them fresh for the next day. Which is to say, there was not too much difficulty. I had so much conviction in the project that the whole process was a pleasure. The most rewarding aspect, like any creative project, was seeing my vision come to life.
How do you feel we should approach algorithms in our daily lives? Embrace them or try to minimise them? I currently view the world as if it is mostly all algorithms, but that the inputs are so complex, and there is so much randomness that it is too difficult to simulate. The data is too large.
Do you feel machines are living things on their own or extensions of humanity? Today, machines are extensions of humanity, and they are certainly not alive. But if in some indeterminate future I were to meet someone, and was then told it was a humanoid robot, with GPT for a brain and a synthetic voice, I’m not sure I would really care about whether they are definitionally alive or not. They are there in front of me, and will interact with me. Consciousness is an emergent phenomena that is not well understood or defined. It might just be so hard to tell that it just ends up falling on a spectrum.