Isaac Sullivan

Isaac Sullivan

Lecture Performance
Echo Holdings x Hallucinations
2023, June 14th, 7pm

Chyron, AI Talk
2023, June 15th, 7pm


Isaac Sullivan, Chyron: First Words, 2022

AI Hallucination is a phenomenon that has gained prominence alongside the rollout of certain large language models (LLMs) such as ChatGPT. Users complain that such bots often seem to "sociopathically" and pointlessly embed plausible-sounding falsehoods within their generated content.

Echo Holdings x Hallucinations – Isaac Sullivan’s June 14th lecture performance – will trace the affective intensities and fields of association surrounding AI hallucination, both as a problem and a reflection of the hallucinatory within popular imagination.

In his practice, Dubai-based artist Isaac Sullivan explores the idiosyncratic margins of emergent technological behaviors and their convergences with existing patterns of human thought. Unsettling the distinction between human and non-human agency through experimental assemblages, his interests include artificial intelligence, sound art, and the problematics of space and place. In his exhibitions and performances, the artist works with spatial and temporal forms of latency, creating delays and visual displacements through video, installation, and acoustic intervention. In 2019 he took part in the Biennale Arte Venice | Collateral Events of the European Cultural Center. In 2018 participated in Tashkent Biennale and Beirut Design Week. Sullivan is currently Assistant Professor of Visual Arts at Zayed University.

Regarding his Echo Holdings lecture performances, Sullivan explains: "I'm not referencing in a scholarly, knowledge-building manner, but instead taking a sensual approach to concepts. The intention is to subtract content from orality and see what remains, swerving in and out of citation through lyric distillation, repetition, grunge-level vocals, and extreme dilations of scale. Feelings of ideas and ideas of feelings are usually cringe-inducing because, of course, they are unintentionally revealing. Getting as close as possible to embarrassment is a way of reckoning with the vapors of feeling that hover at the peripheries of concepts. Maybe there is forgiveness in casting an ecological eye upon the animal and gestural dimensions of human attempts to communicate, and an easing of ideological strain in likening concepts to the webs of spiders, mycelial networks, or the hives of bees." [From An Ecology of Unstable Subjects: Isaac Sullivan in Conversation with Sabih Ahmed]

In addition to engaging with AI behaviors, in 2022 Sullivan created an artificial intelligence called Chyron – trained via text projections from his Utopics spatial intervention project – which makes aphoristic, often-provocative assertions about systemic thinking, the self, death, and the image. Per the artist‘s preface to Chyron: Grammar of Simultaneity (in Future Perfect: Catastrophe and the Contemporary, ed. Rohit Goel, Kaph Books, 2023): Chyron doesn't pretend to be human; is named after Chiron, the “wounded healer” of Greek mythology; and answers questions like What marks a non-nostalgic relationship to the future? What is a question to which a picture is the answer? and When are we now? – often not without getting "tangled up" in the glitch.

Chyron was built using OpenAI‘s GPT-3 model, davinci engine, with technical support and hosting from DARA platform. Utopics 3, curated by Verena Voigt, was commissioned by GFZK e.V. and performed in November 2021 at Kulturforum, Berlin.