The BCS AI Award

Degenerative Cultures

Cesar & Lois

Brazil & USA

‘Degenerative Cultures’ creates a biological-technological network in that living microorganisms, digital networks and artificial intelligence work together. Replicating the logic of so-called intelligent microorganisms (Physarum polycephalum), the artists developed a “bhiobrid” agent, blurring the limits between biological and artificial intelligence. Mapping and corrupting the predatory knowledge frameworks that have consistently driven how humanity deals with nature, their goal is to learn from the bio-hybrid interactions across biological, social and technical networks. The resulting system makes visible those entropic patterns in human culture that have carried us into the Anthropocene.

 

In an interactive installation, physical books documenting the human impulse to control and reshape nature are used as the substrates for fungi. The text is destroyed in a physical sense, and this destruction is visible through the redaction or disappearance of legible text on the surface of the pages.

 

The AI component analyzes the living microorganisms’ growth and feeds a [de]generative algorithm linked to cellular automata and natural language analysis. This bio-digital agent searches the internet for texts that follow similar predatory patterns by describing humanity’s efforts to control nature. Just as the physical book is consumed by the microbiological culture, the digital database is corrupted by the degenerative algorithm.

 

Readouts from the consumption of the physical book and the digital database are visible in the twitter feed of @HelloFungus and printed out on-site on a thermal printer. In the “bhiobrid” network, the bio-digital fungi respond to internet users’ mentions, engaging others in the spreading of “digital spores”.