On the Coloniality of Art and AI: Toward an Aesthetics of Algorithmic Justice

Thu, April 7, 2022, 10am

This talk examines decolonial, data feminist practices in contemporary art that intervene in sociotechnical systems and upend existing relations of power. Examining recent popular experiments at the intersection of art and AI, this talk argues that the most visible works in this field inherit what Aníbal Quijano has called “coloniality”: the reproduction of colonial logics of domination in the present, premised on racialized and gendered systems of classification. Bringing the coloniality of recent aesthetic experiments into view, this talk bridges data feminism and decolonial studies to formulate alternative visions of encounters between art and AI, foregrounding artworks and methods that work toward algorithmic justice and the design of liberatory outcomes.

Mashinka Firunts Hakopian is an Armenian-born scholar, writer, and artist whose research attends to data feminist, decolonial practices in contemporary art. Hakopian was a 2021 Mellon Professor of the Practice at Occidental College, where she co-curated the Oxy Arts exhibition "Encoding Futures: Critical Imaginaries of AI" with Meldia Yesayan. The exhibition assembled the work of artists who visualize the limits of our current algorithmic imaginaries, and who envision speculative futures marked by algorithmic justice. Prior to this, Hakopian held a two-year teaching appointment in UCLA’s Department of English, where she designed courses in media studies, critical race studies, feminist and queer theory, and visual culture. Hakopian received a Ph.D. in the History of Art from the University of Pennsylvania, and an MA from Columbia University in Critical and Curatorial Studies. Hakopian’s book, Algorithmic Bias Training: Lectures for Intelligent Machines, is forthcoming in 2022 from X Artists’ Books.

Hakopian is a contributing editor for Art Papers and for ASAP/J. Hakopian’s writing and reviews have appeared in Performance Research Journal, the Journal of Cinema and Media Studies, Los Angeles Review of Books, Art in America, and elsewhere. Hakopian has been an invited speaker at the University of Chicago, Pacific Northwest College of Art, Northwestern University, the UCLA Art|Sci Lab, and Cooper Union, among other venues.

With Avi Alpert and Danny Snelson, Hakopian makes up one-third of Research Service, a media collective that pursues performative and practice-based forms of scholarship. Their performances and projects have been presented at the Palais de Tokyo (Paris), Museum of Contemporary Art (LA), Institute of Contemporary Art (Philadelphia), Drawing Center (NY), Judson Memorial Church (NY), and in the New Museum (NY) Voice Registers Series. Her individual and collaborative work has received coverage in the LA Times, Art in America, Hyperallergic, Asbarez, and Armenian Public Radio.