Understanding the Sensorial Alienation of AI

A Conversation between Mercedes Bunz and Oier Etxeberria

Tuesday, 14 May 2024 - 7pm

Free, until full capacity is reached

Nouvel Building, Protocol Room, and online platform
60 people
Organised by
Museo Reina Sofía
Illustration in The Book of Knowledge of Ingenious Mechanical Devices, Al-Jazari, 1206
Illustration in The Book of Knowledge of Ingenious Mechanical Devices, Al-Jazari, 1206

As we walk the transition from acquiring knowledge through books to the growing influence of artificial intelligence (AI), the landscape of human ingenuity is changing. Upon exploring the new overtures of AI systems such as ChatGPT and image generators, this discussion between Mercedes Bunz and Oier Etxeberria reflects on what it means to “calculate” meanings and how it shapes technology’s approach towards our world.

Our digital technology, and particularly AI, has become a kind of absolute language that exhaustively and meticulously captures every physical and mental movement. Yet how does this language work? Refuting that it is absolute, this conversation traces the frontiers between data and AI, which always stumble over their main problem: being or not being in the world. Can art and literature help to find, broaden or construct space in the logic of AI by showing its technical being? Is there any way to live with AI instead of under it?


Mercedes Bunz is a lecturer of Digital Culture and Society at King's College London, and an art historian, philosopher and journalist. She studied Philosophy, Art History and Information Science at Freie Universität Berlin and Bauhaus-Universität Weimar, writing her thesis on the history of the internet, the result of deep-seated curiosity about digital technology. This ever-changing field remains one of her primary concerns today: her current research focuses on creative artificial intelligence and the concept of machine learning. She co-directs AI Lab, a collaboration between King’s College and the Serpentine Gallery, and has published a number of books, such as The Internet of Things (Digital Media and Society), [Polity, 2017].

Oier Etxeberria is an artist, musician and curator. His work is conceived as a tool to measure and call into question frameworks of meaning that shape reality, arriving at concerns related to variegated themes such as acclaim, illustrated mathematics and film archives from the Society of Jesus. The relationship between the iconographic legacy of these and other archives is established through rhythms, morphological and sequential structures that Etxeberria develops for each occasion. Thus, more than “analysis” and “re-reading”, the “fugue” and “counterpoint” would be more pertinent formulations to speak about the way in which he undertakes research. His exhibitions include LaLana (2011), Pure data (hamar) (2013) and Visita y anatomía de la cabeza del Padre Laburu (2019).