Angela Washko's seminal series Free Will Mode consists of a series of videos in which the artists uses "The Sims to place human artificial intelligence into architectural situations which test the constraints of their ability to rethink the environments they’ve been placed in." Washko's project reminds me of Chantal Akerman's early films, with a special focus on the pitfalls of artificial intelligence, the embedded ideology of computational logic (itself inserted into the broader, toxic capitalist dogma of endless production, growth, and consumption), the repetitive, alienating rituals of the everyday, and the entropic nature of autonomous avatars.
In this "special edition titled Free Will Mode: Survival Rates in Captivity, Washko created
[T]wo identical architectural spaces on two machines, with two sets of gender segregated “family units” separated into domestic space and outdoor space and performed by operating cameras on both but otherwise allowing the AI to perform inside the game architecture for her. The experiment took place for a live audience at the VIA Festival in Pittsburgh, PA and has been edited as a two channel video experience commissioned by Arebyte Gallery in London and curator Filippo Lorenzin.
The result - clocking at almost to two hours - is truly remarkable. The split screen emphasizes the Architect's omniscient view. The panopticon imperative makes for a disconcerting, uneasy view. Free Will Mode: Survival Rates in Captivity takes virtual torture, manipulation, and obsession to sublime levels. The wailing sims will haunt you for days.
LINK: Angela Washko