Leilei Wu at Improper Walls / Wien

Leilei Wu, soft stories ∷ divine alteration 

Curated y Aleksandra SkowroĊ„ska

March 7 - April 10, 2024

Improper Walls
Reindorfgasse 42, Wien

The exhibition soft stories ∷ divine alteration – the first solo show by Leilei Wu in Austria – explores the relationships between faith, technological imaginings, and the tragedy of eternal objectification.
The starting point for the project was the observation that contemporary technologies become more and more socially fetishized. Furthermore, even agency and autonomy are attributed to them. Technology – especially advanced language models based on machine learning, commonly referred to as 'artificial intelligence' – cease to be seen as tools and begin to exist as separate entities independent of human will. The tendency to place hope in technology, but also to fear its agency, resembles the way divine beings are treated in various belief systems. The popularization of so-called AI is a breakthrough in the described trend, as its actions are not fully understood, yet it becomes an increasingly present element in everyday life and social imagination.
The above observations seem to provide evidence that contemporary advanced, complex, and beyond the understanding of their audience and users technologies gain a new status, dangerously close to the status of divine beings. Such observations can also be found in contemporary humanistic discourse: for example, Benjamin Noys describes it as "the mysticism [of the object] treated as possessing divine powers [...] [resulting] in the inflation of the technological object into something that both terrifies and fascinates, displacing it from history into the realm of the natural or metaphysical..." Meanwhile, Andre Vaccari points out the intensifying deomorphic role of technology, increasingly visible in everyday discourse, where technology is routinely depicted as a significant subject with omnipotent capabilities.