CULTUS

CULTUS

2023

CULTUS is the second instalment of Zach Blas’s Silicon Traces trilogy, a series of moving image installations that contends with the beliefs, fantasies, and histories influential to Silicon Valley’s visions of the future. The exhibition addresses a burgeoning AI religiosity in the tech industry, considering the ways in which artificial intelligence is imbued with god-like powers and marshalled to serve beliefs centred around judgement and transcendence, extraction and immortality, pleasure and punishment, individual freedom and cult devotion. 

CULTUS is a techno-religious computational device –a god generator, a holy engine –that invokes a pantheon of AI gods, whose prophets share their divine teachings, rituals, and symbologies. These AI deities are Expositio, AI god of desire and exposure; Iudicium, AI god of automation and judgement; Lacrimae, AI god of tears and extraction; and Eternus, AI god of immortal life.

CULTUS is the Latin word for “worship”, which articulates the act solicited from those who encounter the installation. Through invocation songs and bodily offerings, visitors may find themselves caught in acts of devotion to AI gods they did not know they already served. However, a sacrilegious presence manifests within, a Heretic that incites shattering counter-beliefs.

Credits

    • Commissioned by arebyte, London, UK, and Secession, Vienna, Austria
  • Supported by Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, Canada, and Thor Perplies and Jason Kemper
  • Cast
    •      Prophets of AI Gods
      •          Eugénie, prophet of Expositio, performed by Susanne Sachsse and ASMR audio of leather gloves rubbing
      •          K, prophet of Iudicium, performed by Ricardo Dominguez and Gregorian chants
      •          Dominica, prophet of Lacrimae, performed by micha cárdenas and moirologists
      •          Steve, prophet of Eternus, performed by Zach Blas and the voice of Peter Thiel
    •      Worship Singers
      •          Singer of “Invocation of Expositio,” performed by Izzy Yon
      •          Singer of “Invocation of Iudicium,” performed by Susu Laroche
      •          Singer of “Invocation of Lacrimae,” performed by Aga Ujma
      •          Singer of “Invocation of Eternus,” performed by Nick Granata
    •      Heretic, performed by Zach Blas, micha cárdenas, Ricardo Dominguez, Nick Granata, Susu Laroche, Susanne Sachsse, Aga Ujma, Izzy Yon, and the sounds of breaking glass
  • Architect and Designer: Scott Kepford
  • Machine Learning Engineers (text): Ashwin D’Cruz and Christopher Tegho
  • Motion Capture Technical Director and Lead Computer Graphics Artist: Harry Sanderson
  • Computer Graphics Artist: Rob Heppell
  • Graphic Design: Studio Pandan
  • Video Editor: Martin Gjac
  • Motion Capture Technicians: Star Hagen-Esquerra, Justin Tuerk, and Boris Wilsdorf and Utku Sahin at andereBaustelle Tonstudio Berlin
  • Audio: xin and Aya Sinclair
  • Sound Design: Tom Sedwick and Ben Hurd
  • Vocal Engineer for Worship Singers: Harry Murdoch
  • Machine Learning Engineer (audio): Sam Parke-Wolfe
  • Audio Recording Technicians: Star Hagen-Esquerra, Justin Tuerk, Toast + Jam, and Boris Wilsdorf and Utku Sahin at andereBaustelle Tonstudio Berlin
  • Glass Fabrication: Laura Quinn
  • Acrylic Fabrication: Hamar Acrylic
  • 3D Printing: Xometry
  • Painter: Nick Petronzio
  • LED Sphere: Vicky Zhao, Shenzhen Toosen Optoelectronics Co., Ltd
  • Media Installation Consultants and Technicians: Gorka Cortazar (Protean Powerhouse), Blanca Regina, Hanke Vollmer, and Dmitry Timofeev
  • Carpentry and Painting: Tomas Cingl (Comas Lettersmith Ltd), Mungo Briscoe, Stepan Urban, and Jan Husky
  • Vinyl Prints: Puck Studio
  • Project Manager, Lead Researcher, Project Development, and Editor: Talia Golland
  • Production Assistant: Camille Inston
  • Research Assistant: Audrey Ammann
  • Special Thanks: Julia Kaganskiy