AI and the deepreal

Leah Dyjak

There is a fine line between hope and denial. We are living in the fourth industrial revolution, on the edge of the sixth mass extinction between the Holocene and Anthropocene, AI and the deepreal.

Before my time in California, I was photographing impossible infrastructure in Louisiana, a place that floods instead of burns. New Orleans and the surrounding region will be underwater in our lifetime. No amount of human innovation or infrastructure can change this.

Out photographing the Atchafalaya River under Inter-state 10, I noticed a portion of discarded pool ladder dangling from the highway, its four rungs transecting the rising moon, as if they might take us away from where concrete severs nature. Later, I dreamed of  ladders crossing other dimensions, delivering me to the care of artists and ancestors long gone from this time we know.

The ladder offers an alternative path, away from the pathos of the current moment.

At Djerassi, I made a 100-foot ladder of porcelain and jute rope—a double helix in my studio, a wishbone byHarrington Creek, where Pamela Djerassi’s ashes were once carried to the Pacific. Installed, its bone-white rungs barely reach the water next to John Roloff’s 1989Vanish-ing Ship—a hauntingly massive skeletal terrarium sinking into the earth, long before refugee ships were vanishing everywhere—but yet it reaches far beyond , as if it could be tossed to sinking vessels in the Mediterranean Sea, thrown over border walls, lowered into fissures after earthquakes or to all the other unknown places and people trying to swim, climb or work their way to somewhere other than here.

The reality of any extinction event is that there are stewards for endlings—the last surviving members of a species. Perhaps AI will be ours, keeping vigil with the sole survivor recording our disappearance in real time. 

As published in Leonardo Journal of Art and Science, Summer 2020 MIT Press 

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