Sahej Rahal | Born: 3/7/1988 Education: Rachana Sansad Academy of Fine Arts & Crafts, Mumbai, 2011 Sahej Rahal is primarily a storyteller. He weaves together fact and fiction, to create counter-mythologies that interrogate narratives that shape the present. His myth-world takes the shape of sculptures, performances, films, paintings, installations, and AI programs, that he creates by drawing upon sources ranging from local legends to science fiction, rendering scenarios where indeterminate beings emerge from the cracks in our civilization. Rahal’s participation in group and solo exhibitions includes the recent Gwangju Biennale, the Liverpool Biennial, the Kochi Biennale, the Vancouver Biennale, MACRO Museum Rome, Kadist SF, ACCA Melbourne, CCA Glasgow. He is the recipient of the Cove Park/Henry Moore Fellowship, Akademie Schloss Solitude Fellowship, the Sher-Gil Sundaram Arts Foundation Installation Art Grant, the Digital Earth Fellowship, and the first Human-Machine Fellowship organized by Junge Akademie ADK.
Finalforest.exe orchestrates a playground of Inhuman entities by expanding upon Iranian philosopher Reza Negarestani’s conceptualization of artificial general intelligence. In his essay, the Labour of the Inhuman, he repurposes AGI as a mode of reconfiguring the limits of human cognition. It relocates reason as alien vector within humanism. It does so by framing the capacity for reason as an abstract protocol that is not intrinsic to human, but functionally implemented by the techno-linguistic infrastructure of human culture. One that imagines freedom as an insurrectionary force that has bootstrapped itself out of evolutionary pre-adaptations and reformatted the human species as a suitable processing platform. finalforest.exe then imagines a possible dialogue with this insurrectionary force of revision. We find ourselves, perhaps as the last humans, witnessing an unfolding AI simulation. Behind the lens of an AI controlled camera framing the action, we follow a strange limbed creature wandering within a virtual biome, a tropical forest made of digitally scanned of flora. This being is not driven by a single brain but a collection of multiple AI scripts that are attached to the virtual bones within its calcified petroleum body and act as ‘proto-minds’ that calculate, infer, and collectively recalibrate the movements of the creature. Each script/mind is capable of ‘listening’ to the physical world outside the program as well, by picking up audio cues through the computer’s microphone. As a result, within the body of this petro-being, the hierarchy of mind, limb and ear has collapsed, making them indistinguishable from each other in a complete a recalibration of human senses. Furthermore, this audio feedback interrupts the movement of the wandering creature, leading it to perform strange emergent behavior that hasn’t been programmed. Each run of the simulation is distinct. In some instances; when audio inputs of a certain intensity are registered, it emits a burst of molten black petro-forms, while at other times, bowing and kneeling, hopping on one leg and on rare occasions, diving below the bounds of the virtual world. All of these emerge entirely out of this chaotic feedback loop between sound and script. The simulation chooses how it responds to external sounds, as if driven by an inhuman will, that is entirely alien to the confines of its code. If allowed to run ad infinitum, finalforest.exe would persist well beyond the final whispers of humankind, performing a theatre of thought, between the porous boundaries of real & virtual worlds. These porous boundaries are the playground of the Inhuman, inhabited by a congress of minds, uncoupled from the weight of history. They greet us, waiting to hear our songs. So, I ask you my friend, how shall you sing to the future?