For the exhibition in Gallery V, Ørjan Amundsen has produced a new work in which mythology, technology, facts and speculation are woven together in a three-channel video installation. The video material is based on appropriated content from unspecified sources and stems from the artist’s interest in advanced predictive technology, a tool originally used by meteorologists to forecast weather. Today it is part of what shapes our perception and conception of reality.
The three-part work – the installation, the videos and the sound – is inspired by goddesses of fate. In Norse mythology, they are known as Norns; the three goddesses twining the threads of fate for every human from the day they are born. In Greek and Roman mythology, one finds similar figures, the Moirai and the Parcae, also known as “the fates”. The desire to predict the future is a practice and a phenomenon that is described in myths and religions around the world and is probably as old as humans. In Ørjan Amundsen’s new works, parallels are drawn between mythology and technology in the sense that for most people, understanding how algorithms, computer programs, and the interpretation of how our own data are being used, is just as intangible as understanding predictions in mythology. In the work Destiny, the goddesses of fate are replaced by predictive technology, artificial intelligence, and machine learning; a newer form of predictive power that analyses, learns, and makes predictions based on algorithms and data obtained about individuals.
The video material is taken from a number of different sources. Through various forms of manipulation of the material, they appear abstract and to varying degrees recognisable from their originals. Central to the piece are three monologues consisting of cryptic yet poetic utterances that imitate the collection, processing and analysis of data.
What happens to us when our movements, ideas and desires are captured, manipulated and preempted? What are the political, cultural, and social implications of predictive technology? Do we control the technology, or does it control us? Algorithms and artificial intelligence are already used in search engines to suggest “friends” on social media and tailor advertising to us. They are also used to decide whether or not you can get a loan from the bank, and in some cases, they are used to calculate the probability that the convicted may commit new criminal offences. The introduction of ChatGPT and other AI bots has shown how easy and fast it is to produce texts that are difficult to verify. The desire to form a coherent model of the world based on quantitative data and thus predict people’s actions more and more accurately is a high priority in the tech industry. There is enormous financial gain behind it, but at the same time, it can have serious implications, particularly for individuals’ agency and free will.
Ørjan Amundsen is based in Oslo and works mainly with video, text and music, most often in combination. Central to his practice are investigations of how digital media and information technologies and how they help to shape our perception and conception of reality.