Alexander Zaklynsky on AI and the Moon Project

Alexander Zaklynsky considers himself in a constant feedback loop with a machine as he makes his art. It’s a means to an end- and the end might as well be the beginning for him. It’s an assurance that there will always be a point to branch from. This draws a parallel to man’s relationship to technology; we are assisted, but only as far as we wish, because ultimately the end goal is up to us.

He’s also working on a project to send art to the moon, in collaboration with Anna Sitnikova, Elizaveta Gluhova & Bernard Foing, and is currently showing an exhibition of the chosen artists at SPACE EXPO – the official visitors center of the European Space Agency at Noordwijk. The Moon Gallery intends to send 100 artworks to the Moon within the compact format of a 10 x 10 x 1 cm plate on a lunar lander planned to be launched in 2022.

If you are interested in applying, they will also launch a new open call for the Moon Gallery Exhibition planned as part of the ESA-Lab project IGLUNA.

In addition, there’s a re-opening of the Moon Gallery exhibition on the 12th of January at SPACE EXPO as part of the 100 hours of astronomy; If the sky is clear the Moon and Mars will be visible in close proximity to each other.

Alexander Zaklynsky on AI and the Moon Project

“For seeing life is but a motion of limbs, the beginning whereof is in some principal part within, why may we not say that all automata (engines that move themselves by springs and wheels as doth a watch) have an artificial life?”

Cybil Scott- You’ve written before in response to this quote by Thomas Hobbes-

Alexander Zaklynsky- Hobbes poses a hypothetical question here which is an oversimplification, yet gets at a notion in contemporary thought which is broadening the boundaries of what is capable in the evolving contemporary technocentric context. Engines that move themselves, programs that evolve and create new designs, algorithmic mechanisms in society mediating and disseminating the information we consume, all point in the direction of an artificial life, a virtual life.

Hobbes is talking of automata at a time when foundations in scientific thought are being constructed and the math and physics of gravity itself were being postulated on by minds such as Hooke, Newton and Hailey.

CS- In response to that- What do you think we are grappling with now as the foundation of physics change as we discover more about the quantum world?

AZ- I believe, and others do too, that our understanding of our place in the greater context of everything is changing. Technology is changing faster than we can maybe control it. Accelerationism is a real thing. Our brains and human conditions are fighting daily with the ubiquitous involvement of tech. Our artificial life is online in facebook and instagram and mediated through phones in our pockets. This ubiquitous tech and our use of it today has proven that it has a viral characteristic. Getting likes can consume people. Internet trolls can destroy people. The landscape of the virtual life is increasingly hostile and uncontrollable.

CS- Can you see art in this?

AZ- There is certainly art in “this”. There is poetry and coincidence in the virtual world and mediated visual life we exist in today. There are artists who specifically work in these mediums like making avatars on instagram that have millions of followers. For me that is all fake and artificial or maybe rather often too vain.

Alexander Zaklynsky on AI and the Moon Project
Vertical Plotter in development XY prototype 1 2.2 x 2.2 meter with 5cm z axis

CS- Do you think the world is being “re-enchanted” as machines take on more aspects (qualities) of living organisms? (Plus the internet of things?)

AZ- Maybe I’m in a particularly sour mood today, but I think the Re-enchantment of the world lies in concepts and discoveries that tech and scientific exploration has uncovered. On the other hand, the internet of things is a perfect example of capitalising on new tech for frivolous needs and unnecessary comforts. Sure, it can be helpful, but if you look at the reality of a lot of IOT devices. They are adult toys which sell luxury which is often way overpriced.

Alexander Zaklynsky on AI and the Moon Project

CS- You’ve stated, “How we can imbue artificial intelligence into machines when our own mechanisms of vision/perception are based on faulty hardware in collaboration with reconstructive software?” What does artificial life mean to you, and how does this impact your view on what art will become in the future?

AZ- Artificial life to me is the gradual disconnectedness from others and a purely vacuous existence in self-made feedback loops. Like Plato’s Cave said of the man living in the cave, seeing his shadow from the fire- that is his reality. Not until seeing the sun does he realize he was wrong. So as this tech and artificial life gradually seep over our heads we become confronted with a different reality which may not be true and certainly not any more fulfilling. Art I believe is to look at the sun from under these constraints or modalities in society and disseminate a broader perspective and context somehow.

“The accumulating Information glut can be accommodated for as we shift from humans with spears to humans with multiple computers and an invisible connection to everybody and possibly everything. The problem is that these new spears come with the magic ability for hitting a mark on the other side of the world and even on others.”
Alexander Zaklynsky on AI and the Moon Project

CS- Do you think there is a consequence for religion and spirituality in this sense?

AZ- Religion and Spirituality are either individual or community-based belief systems. These ideals will always be modified and affected by the capacities of our conceptual abilities to believe in a greater force of nature or universe. In many ways science is a religion. Just more provable. Tech’s involvement in our lives simply amplify our affect into others spheres of influence. As long as “the Other” ascribes to that influence and thus gives it further stature and a platform within their own experience.

CS- Does it correlate with the so called emergence of techno-spirituality or techno-paganism?

AZ- Probably but I don’t really understand or ever liked techno 🙂

Alexander Zaklynsky on AI and the Moon Project

CS- Has the ghost snuck out of the machine? Is it mind or matter for you? In other words, are you a materialist?

AZ- To me it’s both and the balance in between. A symbol of an idea can be a material representation of the general concept of that Idea. It’s like asking whether math is material or not. It is in the mind but it is visible everywhere. Its a language.

Alexander Zaklynsky on AI and the Moon Project
“As an artist navigating this acceleration in society and technology I am faced with a seemingly insurmountable sea of information. I am obliged to swim in these streams in order to find my way, develop my context and improve my knowledge. I must be connected in order to be contemporary or relevant.”

CS – You’ve said, “A petri dish is good for growing bacteria cultures while a website is good at growing visual cultures.” What’s the project with the moon and how does it intersect with your artistic pursuit? Did Elon Musk beat you to it?

AZ- No. Elon musk is just helping. The Moon is a beautiful symbol for the delicate balance we need to maintain within ourselves and on earth as a species. The Moon is magnificent. Its difficult to get there. Not since the early 70’s has there been any art put on the moon. Today there is a new space race and the moon is being developed for a future moon colony. Our species is going interplanetary. What will culture be like in space and on the moon in a hundred years?

The Moon Gallery project is simply developing a program to facilitate a broad scope of artists impressions to be brought to the moon for safe keeping. We ask the artist, “What message do you want to give a future moon civilization in a hundred years and how does the object or submission symbolize that message?”

CS- What’s your answer to that?

AZ- My answer relates to Kepler’s statement that, “There exists a very common geometry in the universe.” From the universe to the smallest particle of matter, everything is under violent effect of this common geometry.” I wanted to make a micro-monument to this thought in order to tell a future civilization on the moon how far they have come and to ask whether they have a clearer understanding of this geometry then.  

Moon Gallery Space Expo

CS- What are you currently working on?

AZ- Currently working on my studio practice which involves painting sculpture and audio visual experiences. My next solo show is in the summer at Pulchri Studio where I will exhibit a series of life size tetrahelix configurations in aluminum and bronze.


Alexander Zaklynsky on AI and the Moon Project

CS- What are your struggles?

AZ- Life and Money and Life.