Chthonic Rites is an installation that uses the machine learning technologies behind the smart assistants Alexa and Siri to expose the underlying ideologies behind these devices and the field of artificial intelligence itself.
A conversation between the two assistants, in the forms of an Apple iPhone and Amazon Echo, takes place on an abandoned office desk. Smart lights flicker on and off, and web pages appear and disappear on the desktop monitor to illuminate aspects of the discussion as it takes place on this theatrically-haunted ‘smart’ office. They discuss parallels between ancient histories and their own, highlighting their strange origins and functions, and the hidden forces nestled within their supposedly friendly identities.
Through this, the ‘assistants’ are exposed as players in an ongoing game of obfuscation and power politics in the technology sector, where terms like ‘smart device’ and ‘artifical intelligence’ are marketing buzzwords in the ongoing war for our data and money.
The conversation evolves with each iteration – images and video below are from installations at the V&A Museum London, and CTM Festival 2020 in Berlin.