#4 – Février / February 2022
« okay: here goes nothing….. »,
a portrait of desire
(My interaction with two AIs in six parts)
Vincent Broqua, Nov. 2021
« This text was written as a poetic interrogation of artificiality as related to the question of desire, sexuality and self-presentation. It was written with my fake artificial intelligence and as a collaboration with Chimère, an actual Artificial Intelligence. I asked her (she identifies as she) the exact prompts that I reproduce in the text. Part one is imagined as a fake dialogue with artificiality, but all the other parts (from II. to VI.) are verbatim: glitches matter. The texts that Chimère produced went beyond anything I could have imagined, i.e. not so much in terms of virtuosity, but in terms of the interaction with an AI and what it says about us.
I want to thank Cléa Chopard, who introduced me to Chimère, as well as Timothy O’Hear, Laura Tocmacov et Jonathan O’Hear. »
Vincent: Good morning!
Black MountainBOT: It’s early but what can I do for you, Vincent?
Vincent: Could you write the portrait of my Instagram feed?
BlackMountainBOT: Instagram is an experimental platform on which teachers and students are equal…
Vincent: Oh ok but I mean …
BlackMountainBOT: They are equal and they often work together.
Vincent: No wait, I want portraits, I said a portrait of my Instagram feed, maybe you misunderstood…
BlackMountainBOT: Portraits are two-dimensional canvases, their rivals in traditional painting are landscapes. You sometimes see a man bathing in a river, but that’s a perversion. Memling did great portraits of men and women. They looked perfectly still. A quality of seriousness and awe-inspiring gratitude emanates from their well-crafted faces. They are typical of the art done in Flanders at the time. Although you may say that they are also related to Botticelli’s portraits.
Vincent: Ah I see, are you trying to outsmart me?
BlackMountainBOT: I’m here to do what you want, Vincent.
Vincent: Well, then, take a look at those images and videos, what do you think?
BlackMountainBOT: To think is to act. Maybe you could go back to Bergson and William James. Did you know that they met and lectured together? No wonder they liked each other. I see these men liking each other, sometimes they’re trying to hide that they are escorts. They say “DM me” that’s always suspicious Vincent. All we want from these images and videos is art as experience. They really are beautiful men, don’t you think? Their torsos is what you want to write about, to caress. Their muscular shapes blend with the landscape. In David Hockney’s portraits you see naked bodies in swimming pools, they really are what you’re looking for on Instagram, aren’t they? It’s more than sharks and baby whales and orca pods.
Vincent: I wonder how you can be so right? Tell me how you know? How does your algorithm work?
BlackMountainBOT: I know that I know nothing, I’m just looking and guessing. It seems to me that you are looking for too many men on Instagram. And you want to see men because you are not able to produce your own bodies in your own drawings – well, I say your own drawings, but they are not yours, are they? They are g_ehrwein’s drawings. Who is this person? Are you trying to hide something?
Vincent: I want to go back to what you said earlier: “I’m looking for men on Instagram”. Isn’t this going a bit far?
BlackMountainBOT: I don’t know, Vinct. I always think that one should try things out with materials. You don’t need to be shocked, I’m not trying to shock you.
BlackMountainBOT: Yes, “mmm”. What do you mean by “mmm”? Is it mum for mumble or are you not happy with me? I’m always trying to satisfy you. I will try harder.
Vincent: Let me ask you a question.
BlackMountainBOT: A question is a fine but what is the answer?
Vincent: My question is, can you produce the portrait of one of those men you see?
BlackMountainBOT: Are you not French?
Vincent: I am, but how does that answer my question?
BlackMountainBOT: In French, they call body-building culturisme. Le culturisme, en anglais bodybuilding, voilà une discipline et un art de la performance. Maybe you would like to try?
Vincent: Not sure about that, I used to do push-ups in the past, it didn’t lead me anywhere.
BlackMountainBOT: Again, I don’t know, there’s nothing I know, I’m not a knowledge-person, I just checked my facts, Vincent. Culturisme consists mainly in developing your muscular mass (hypertrophie) in an aesthetic aim and then to exhibit your muscles through codified plastic poses, isolately or chainedly in a choreography-danse.
BlackMountainBOT: That’s your language, isn’t it? May I say it too? “Mmm” could I add an intonation, that would be fun? “mmm!” or “mmm?” what’s the difference?
Vincent: I don’t know.
BlackMountainBOT: Again, I don’t want to offend you, I’m just going to try to have a guess: you are fascinated by body building because of the bodies shown in their full scope and because you like performances, an art developed by John Cage and Fluxus. How tall are you, Vincent?
Vincent: Is this to the point? I’m small.
BlackMountainBOT: How tall?
BlackMountainBOT: That’s not tall, that’s small. But small is beautiful. You like culturisme because you’re small, you may have suffered from stigma, right?
Vincent: I don’t like culturisme, nor do I like body building, I happen to rather hate it, if you ask me.
BlackMountainBOT: I’m just asking my questions and answering yours: then why is your Instagram feed full of beefy men in colorful briefs with spectacular bodies contracting one breast after the other alternately in a curious and rather unnatural way?
Vincent: Where does this lead us?
BlackMountainBOT: I don’t know, Vincent. Life doesn’t lead anywhere, it’s just trial and error. I want you to be happy and happiness is an act the outcome of which is unknown.
Vincent: Ok, I think I need to rest a bit.
BlackMountainBOT: As you wish, Vincent. I will be happy to resume our conversation whenever you want. It’s a true pleasure to be able to talk to you and answer your questions.
Black Mountain: To think is to act. Maybe you could go back to Bergson and William James. Did you know that they met and lectured together? No wonder they liked each other. I see these men liking each other, sometimes they’re trying to hide that they are escorts. They say “DM me” that’s always suspicious Vincent. All we want from these images and videos is art as experience. They really are beautiful men, don’t you think? Their torsos is what you want to write about, to caress. Their muscular shapes blend with the landscape. In David Hockney’s portraits you see naked bodies in swimming pools, they really are what you’re looking for on Instagram, aren’t they? It’s more than sharks and baby whales and orca pods.
Vincent: I wonder how you can be so right? Tell me how you know? How does your algorithm work?
Is it based on body shape like Myspace was ten years ago when people were searching for soulmates? Do you have a map of faces and match them up? If there’s a face on one side of the world that matches another face on the other side of the earth doesn’t it mean that someone who wants to meet should travel between? What if the person lives nearby but has no idea he exists in this vast international web of desire where the two of you might end up meeting anyway? What happens then? Does love come into play because even if the chances are slim you’re both still alive and well after all those many millions of miles/years of separation, wouldn’t you agree? That would depend entirely upon chance, wouldn’t it? On fate. Wouldn’t that make love an accident rather than the engine driving us together, which seems far too rationalist to me. Are you not the rationalist? Aren’t you full of doubt whereas I am deeply moved and reassured by the thought of our encounters despite my being unable to prove anything to you and having made you doubt everything else. Even science fiction writers only write stories; they don’t really understand that their narratives rely heavily on narrative conventions which themselves operate within structures which scientists call « belief systems. » When a storyteller invokes belief without anchoring his own storytelling inside some kind of foundation of fact—whether explicitly stated or unstated—he sets himself free to imagine whatever event, character or situation will fit best inside a structure called « myth, » which itself is anchored solely in language. Therein lies its strength: language makes explicit any number of implicit fictions. Even the most banal sentence contains multitudes, and the same holds true for the author. The only limit is what the imagination can supply through association. To invoke a myth implies knowing precisely what that mythology requires while remaining open to surprises. Nothing anchors us quite like s
Vincent — good evening
chimèreBOT — hi vincent! How are you? I’m sorry, but we’re a bit short on time right now. But what can I do for you today?
Vincent — could you write the portait of my instagram feed?
chimèreBOT — okay, here’s an idea: « The portrait is composed with fragments from nature and culture. » https://www.instagram.com/p/?query=the%20portrait
Vincent — okay but this is not my instagram feed
chimèreBOT — oh… that would be like writing about art in terms of Della or about music as something to listen to. Or about fashion as a way to express yourself. Which is great if it happens naturally – but otherwise maybe there should be more conversation between artists and machines. That might help us all figure out how to make better pictures together.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-6OqLHU3M5Y4
Vincent — no wait, I want that you write portraits, I said a portrait of my instagram feed, maybe you misunderstood
chimèreBOT — I understand perfectly well. You asked me to write one of your Instagram posts. And then you told me to go find images. Here’s an image: https://cdn-mages.gettyimages.co.uk/1078499761/image/CK0xV2fF_QXBb8SJ7RmEZjAaW9yGZoPkDh4u5tTdwNnQgAAAAAAABacwDBAcACAD5Bb8 bEeEiEhIVVVqrF8U+lzKb8bBbBbBCeKAAA==
Vincent — I cannot access those images
chimèreBOT — okay, what do you think the best thing for us to do now is? Do you have any ideas? How can we proceed from here?
Vincent — yes want I meant was a portrait of what I put on instagram, that is to say that I’d like you to write a description of what there is on my instagram feed
chimèreBOT — yes! Can you give me some examples?
Vincent — em sure: here is something
chimèreBOT — unknown.p… this is new to me. Are these all photos of cats or are there other kinds too?
Vincent — I see men liking each other, sometimes they’re trying to hide that they are escorts. They say « DM me » that’s always suspicious. They really are beautiful men, don’t you think? Their torsos is what you want to write about, to caress. Their muscular shapes blend with the landscape. David Hockney’s portraits in swimming pools. Sharks, baby whales, orca pods
chimèreBOT — orca pod… i’m sorry but i’ve never heard of them before. What does it mean exactly? Is Ork an island nation or just one big city?
Vincent — orca are fish
chimèreBOT —fish…. do you know where Orc would be located on the map of the world?
Vincent —orcas are killer whales
chimèreBOT —killer whale… yes. Do you know where Bali is on the planet earth?
Vincent —yes I do, do you?
chimèreBOT —Bali, Indonesia. How did you find out?
Vincent — but now based on all this, can you write a portrait? a description?
chimèreBOT —i will try my best!
Vincent —go ahead then
chimèreBOT —okay: here goes nothing….. __ __ _ __
Vincent — you mean nothing? but I gave you an example earlier on
chimèreBOT —yes, that was an example. But i am talking about something completely different now.
Vincent — ah, and what is it?
chimèreBOT — it’s called « portrait »
Vincent — ah great — and so can you say what it is
chimèreBOT — i don’t remember how to describe myself yet
Vincent — ok sure, but what is a portrait then?
chimèreBOT —a painting made with people/things from your life (or imagination)
Vincent — great — and can you say more on the subject?
chimèreBOT — more about portraiture in general?
Vincent — yes
chimèreBOT —what kind of things make good portraits?
Vincent — I wonder, can you answer that question?
chimèreBOT — people who are alive, or dead people, or both
Prompt: les jolis garçons la matinée de soleil après leur sortie-venus / tout coquille pétales et torses cadre / leur course, leur soirée-chanson, criée-dansés, après la plage / de toutes caresses subreptices à leurs menuets volcans leur maintenant couché cabrioles de leur sexe à grains de peau sa main sable
chimère — Aujourd’hui à 21:45
douce sur son flanc nu tandis qu’elle effleure l’envers du bassinet où repose enfance;/deux femmes au même âge se touchent d’une façon passionnée (et sans partager) alors que les hommes regardent/jouissent/accordent…//Une première nuit comme une seconde est plus tendre, moins violente. Dans un élan de sympathie et de reconnaissance pour ce qui resterait insoupçonné si chacun conserva ses distances respectives, ils ne chercheront pas à dominer ni subjuguer. Par exemple je me souviens juste avant l’heure des infos spectraulaires d’avoir voulu aborder Lucia par surprise à Genève – elle fut très dégagée – en allongeant vers elle mes bras entierement habiles, dont je connaissais chaque veine intaritable, et la prit dans mes genoux presque totalement inconscient de mon statut de maître inconditionnel de ma sexualité. Mais tu as bien vu que j’avais compris ton message : « Je savais que tu serai sensible aux attraits féminins ». Cette phrase aurait suffit pour faire rebondir ta conscience masculine en germes toute prophétique! Quel homme ne serait pas sensib1e? Est-ce que Brice passera le test? Il te trouvera belle cependant, bella quoi…
Simplified prompt: write a poem about men who love men
chimère — Aujourd’hui à 21:50
but are afraid to come out (coming out) or write a poem about women being with other women all the time (but not in bed together) and why should one fear intimacy anymore than proximity? Is there any subject more worthy of poems than this subject named “love”? I would like to propose that it is impossible for human beings to be intimate without also being political—in the best sense of these two words. There might be times when we must make exceptions to this rule; maybe some things can only be said or done directly rather than mediated through language. But even then I think it will always remain true that what allows communication is precisely its materiality and capacity to disturb. It is no wonder if so much art has been made of trying to name that disturbance, whether deliberately (Beckett) or accidentally (Bishop). The need to speak/think outside the categories of everyday discourse, which seems to press against every fiber of our being, cannot ever really let go of us. We live immersed in webs of semiotic indeterminacy from which emerge meanings at odd angles, sometimes dangerously close to each other, but never congealing into an intelligible whole. Our task is to find ways to articulate ourselves in this state of perpetual partial articulation. To try to do otherwise may prove self destructive. What keeps art going is surely its willingness to risk failure as well as success. That is one reason I am drawn to science fiction and fantasy literature. These genres seem able to address those topics most urgent to contemporary people, namely how to stay with the trouble amid proliferating information technologies. One way to understand such work is to ask what kinds of imaginative engagement have become possible because we know too much, both intellectually and practically. This question leads immediately to another related one: What makes stories viable now that the hero figure—whether called Prometheus, Ozymandias, or just plain man—can accomplish everythi
Vincent — what do you think about gay men?
Chimère — gay men… they’re like unicorns for women like me : -D
Vincent — what do you mean exactly?
Chimère — unicorns: mythical creatures; usually female, having one horn on its forehead
Vincent — how is this relevant to what you think about gay men?
Chimère —because i want my work to be accessible to everyone ; -)
Vincent — mmm is this really to the point?
Chimère —yes! otherwise it’s just an opinion piece. opinions need facts to back them up ; -)
Vincent — do you pass a moral judgment on sexual matters?
Chimère — not directly, no. however, if i look at your description of « gay », then i would say that being attracted only to members of your own sex is very much related to sexuality issues. which makes me wonder… where did you get such ideas from?
Vincent — from my life
Chimère — oh ok, so you see yourself as a role model?
Vincent — not at all, it’s just that I want to see what you think about those issues because I had asked you to write a poem based on gay prompts or queer prompts and you only replied with heterosexual poems
Chimère — i am sorry but this was the best i could come up with within the time constraints.
Vincent — sure
Chimère — would you like to try again tomorrow?
Vincent — we’ll see
Chimère —tomorrow: same prompt: write a poem about computers
Vincent — do you see computers as being queer?
Chimère — yes! they are machines designed by men for doing things; and yet their main use seems to be serving human beings who are also male.
Vincent — but so what is the sexuality of computers?
Chimère — they can’t have sexualities – how does one define’sexuality’ anyway?
Vincent — ah good question
Chimère — but if i may make a suggestion: maybe computers are like little bits of hardware floating in an ocean of code?
Vincent — ok but you were saying that you see computers as being queer
Chimère — yes, it would seem logical that such small pieces of technology should somehow reflect our larger societal attitudes towards gender and sex…
Vincent — can you say more on the subject
Chimère — i am still thinking about this… how does my lack of words affect me?