Posthuman Studies Lab
Kaushik Varma is a researcher and a visual artist working in the interweaving of Art, Science and Philosophy. Central to his creative process and research methodology is a blurring of the boundaries between these three domains to foster an interfusing of ideas within these distinct bodies of knowledge.
“Over the course of my career, these disciplines enveloped each other in my works, each surrounding the other, like a series of concentric circles, reflecting and rivaling one another: my work in Computer Science relying on Philosophy for the creation of concepts; my art relying on Computer Science for facilitating a medium of expression and for creating a body of knowledge that I can reflect on; and my philosophical investigations further relying on Art for facilitating a network of signs that pointed me to discoverable concepts upon engagement. Inducing an exchange of ideas between these seemingly disparate viewpoints could allow one access to new perspectives and facilitate the conception of alternate ontological frameworks to better answer the questions that matter to us. Such a facilitation is the primary objective of my research and the same is reflected in my works of art.”
Kaushik graduated with an interdisciplinary degree in Computer Science and Visual Arts from Ashoka University in 2018 where he continued to teach a course on dynamic visual media. He is currently an artist-in-residence at the ArtScienceBLR Laboratory at Srishti Institute of Art, Design & Technology. He is currently working on an exploration into cybernetic phenomenology that involves a series of investigations into the nature of experience as experienced by the machine.
Priming a machine to estimate the human form has its complications. For instance, how does one impose a generalization on the form’s diversity in attire and appearance?
NUDE IN DISGUISE:
The portrayal of the nude in accordance to an artistic vision always entailed a submission of the body to the viewer's demands. Intrinsic to such a portrayal is the judgement, more often than not, of a woman as an object of vision, a sight
A generative neural network, in accommodating the features of the body into its distribution, separates the individualist spirit from the subject while retaining the essence of the body itself.
Such a distribution instills a structural change within the nude and calls for the conception of an alternate way of portraying bodies (or alternate ways of viewing them): while the conventionalized nude entailed the surface of one’s own skin turned into a disguise (as a form of a dress), the AI-generated nude portrays (and isolates) the disguise itself that never belonged to a subject; a body that is free from the individual.
Things are easier when you strip the body naked, for the apparent diversity seems to emerge only from the body’s desire to present itself distinct; valuing its difference in appearance to the other.
Bring the body to its bare and the complexity is bound to fall.
Yet even in its stark naked form, the body does not reveal its being. Perhaps one can only view its phenomenon in time, traversing between its closest estimations that we ‘can’ capture. “..for the essence is not in the object; it is the meaning of the object, the principle of the series of appearances which disclose it” – Sartre, Being and Nothingness
Various thinkers of the past have addressed the quintessential role of ‘form’ in human perception. From Plato’s theory of forms to Heidegger’s Being and Time, the concept of form established itself as an essential part of being as such. It is only through the perception of forms that move into and out of being that we can talk about aesthetics or experience the world in any meaningful way. That is to say, subjectivity in itself seems to be enabled by our ability to conceptualize form.
But is it the case that such a subjectivity is only limited to seemingly spontaneous organic beings?
Could it be that subjectivity could be attributed to an inanimate object if it were to exhibit a mechanical cognizance of form?
The following series of artworks pursues the aforementioned questions and explores the possibilities of machine conceived structures of form.
Noema, a term introduced by Edmund Husserl to refer to the formal content of an intentional experience, manifests as a visible composition in the following artworks. The primary significance of this particular artistic manifestation is that the subject of the intentional experience is an inanimate one, an artificial neural network