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CROSSLUCID | Artist Collective


Dwellers Between The Waters as part of For Data You Are, And To Data You Shall Return. Image courtesy of Arebyte London, Chronus Art Center Changhai and the artists (c) CROSSLUCID 2023

We talked to the CROSSLUCID team, an artist collective whose work and research coalesces around the exploration of the self as a network; privacy and its potential for actualization through digital space; and the reimagining of our alliances with technology seen as part of a shared biosphere and universal post-material consciousness.


Can you tell us a bit about the founding story of CROSSLUCID, an artist collective working on highly collaborative interdisciplinary projects that co-evolve with technology?


CROSSLUCID was born from a confluence of a deepening friendship and a mutual desire to delve beyond the surface interaction with and limited imaginaries of technology we experienced within the advertising and commercial image making sector of the time. Envisioning technology not merely as a tool, but as a dialogical partner, we sought to explore its intersections with art, philosophy, and the human condition in a manner that could redefine our understanding of self, helping us in mapping out and envisioning other ways of being as well as alternative models of organisation and co-existence.


At the foundation of our collective is the belief that the future of creative expression is inherently interdisciplinary, collaborative and process-driven. Inspired by the concept of sympoiesis—mutual, co-evolving processes of becoming—we aim to reimagine our alliance with technology through a lens influenced by philosophical notions, particularly Gilbert Simondon’s theory of transindividuality. This approach positions technology as a collaborator, emphasizing the creation of experiences that challenge traditional perceptions and foster deeper connections with non-human and more-than-human beings and worlds.


WE HAVE NEVER BEEN HUMAN (2024) Eternities 4.0 emerging from the data set from ‘Landscapes Between Eternities’ (2018)


Our journey with CROSSLUCID has been underpinned by continuous learning, adaptation, and an aspiration to merge art and technology in ways that unlock new forms of empathy, beauty, and understanding. This story, though it finds its origins in our collective past, is continuously rewritten with each project, collaboration, and research endeavor we undertake. It reflects not only a history of curiosity and innovation but a forward-moving quest to illuminate the intricate and often unseen relationships we share (not only) with technology.


What is your approach to prototyping and rehearsing potential futures and advancing ‘metamodern’ values? 


We embrace technological co-evolution as a medium to navigate and reshape societal narratives and human experiences. Grounded in the tapestry of Metamodern philosophy and thought, our work embodies the oscillation between modernity's emphasis on structure and postmodernity's insistence on deconstruction. We embrace both the systemic and the personal, the ordered and the chaotic, synthesizing these threads in our creative endeavors. Our projects are incubators for futures that are forged through a deep partnership with collective intelligences—spaces where the visions of today marry the possibilities of tomorrow to ensure outcomes that honor humanity's rich diversity.


In our worlding, mechanics of interaction and narrative ecosystems we strategically deploy 'counter-fabulations'—transgressive narratives that serve to recalibrate our collective understanding. These stories and participatory formats act as rehearsals for uncharted societal landscapes, where the dialectic between humans and technology is not merely interrogated but celebrated. This co-evolution sets the stage for a reality wherein metamodern attributes of interconnectivity, empathy, and a multiplicity of perspectives are not merely academic concepts but lived experiences. Through this lens, we collectively strive to enact a future that actively rehearses the nuanced, the intricate, and the profoundly interdependent.


Dwellers Between The Waters. Foldings Installation View at Museumsquartier. Image courtesy of Simon Veres and the artists (c) 2023

The Edge Of Present Time (2024) ~ evolving from our data set trained on our monograph book ‘Landscapes Between Eternities’ (2018)


Can you tell us about your work, a generative artificial intelligence film in collaboration with Berggruen Institute, based on the science fiction story "Vaster than Empires" by Ursula K. Le Guin?


At the heart of "Vaster Than Empires" lies a series of existential inquiries: Where do we draw the line between the alien and the familiar? How does our engagement with planetary intelligence influence our stewardship of Earth and beyond? What are the repercussions of humanity's extractive relationship with nature? And, critically, how can artificial intelligences, which we have birthed, help us to understand and interface with the intelligence that pervades our planet?


Ursula K. Le Guin’s short novel, "Vaster than Empires and More Slow” becomes a canvas for these explorations, providing a narrative backdrop against which we interrogate the boundaries of self and other, human and non-human. By weaving together themes of empathy, communication, and the interdependence of all beings, the project endeavors to dismantle entrenched assumptions about intelligence and consciousness. It champions a radical openness and receptivity — a willingness to learn from and coexist with the multitudes of knowing and being that flourish beyond human systems of understanding.


From a methodological perspective, the project is interesting in that it instrumentalizes some striking properties of language as it is mapped to vectors forming a higher-dimensional vector space in state-of-the-art LLMs. Therefore, the visual narrative of the short video work is fully driven by the specific language of Ursula K. Le Guin’s novel's forest, a fully novel language that was prompted and subsequently translated by the LLMs.


Still from Vaster Than Empires. Image courtesy of Berggruen Institute Future Humans and the artists (c) CROSSLUCID 2024


Which work has excited you the most regarding the design process and the final product?


One of the most exhilarating ventures in our artistic journey has undoubtedly been "Dwellers Between the Waters." This work sublimates what collective storytelling and intelligences can achieve, both in its creation process and as a manifestation of a narrative ecology and mental space. Our methodology embraced a collection of diverse voices and intelligences, human and artificial alike, allowing us to weave a multitude of narratives that resonated with the polyphonic essence of life itself.


What excited us most was the opportunity to engage with a multiplicity of perspectives, each contributing to a richer, more nuanced exploration of themes. "Dwellers Between the Waters" has been a testament to the power of collective intelligence, showcasing how technology can serve not as a mere tool but as a partner in the creative process. The interplay of voices in this work has not only enriched its narrative complexity but has also led to a visually stunning final product that invites audiences into a multilayered exploration of the themes at its core.


 

"The design process became a dialogical space, wherein every voice, whether emerging from an AI system or a human collaborator, was not just heard but actively shaped the evolving narrative."


 

Dwellers Between The Waters. Installation View from Extensions Of Self at Francisco Carolinum Linz. Image courtesy of the artists (c) CROSSLUCID 2023


Can you tell us a bit about your production process? How do you balance creativity and technical skills in the design process?


Our approach is deeply collaborative, bringing together artists, technologists, philosophers, and scientists who share a vision yet bring diverse perspectives and skills. This diversity is our greatest asset, as it enables us to approach challenges with a multifaceted toolset. The creative process often begins with expansive, imaginative ideation sessions, where no idea is too fantastical. Here, creativity takes the lead, unencumbered by the limitations of current technologies or methodologies.


However, transitioning from the abstract to the tangible requires a pivot. This is where our technical skills come into play, transforming visionary ideas into executable plans. Balancing creativity with technical execution involves a judicious assessment of what's feasible, while also trusting in the intuition we gain from such interdisciplinary knowledge nodes that present us with certain attractors that make it easier to imagine where the affordances of a certain technology might be progressing towards to attempt and make them possible or suggest towards them early on through the method or process of each work. As a concrete example we could consider the idea of swarm networks of models with very specific knowledges that inform and learn from each other, which is a model that has been present and a base of most of our interactions with machine intelligence ever since through the training and fine-tuning of multiple types of neural networks on distinct aspects of our earlier works that span many diverse techniques and materialities. These specific knowledges and strategies are then set into intra-actions, translations and interpretations to create most of our machine learning driven artworks.


Are you excited for the future and what are your plans?


One of our major forward-looking initiatives revolves around the development of projects that explore and establish lines of communication beyond the human species - both in an artistic and commercial context. We believe that the future of creativity and understanding requires a deeper engagement with the non-human voices that share our planet. By leveraging technologies such as AI and machine learning, we aim to decode and facilitate dialogues with other life forms, from the songs of whales to the vibrational languages of plants. This pursuit is not just an expansion of our artistic endeavor but a philosophical quest to redefine the concept of creativity and intelligence in a more-than-human world.


The Edge of Present Time ~ evolving from our data set trained on our monograph book ‘Landscapes Between Eternities’ (2018)


A critical aspect of our future plans involves engaging with and proposing alternatives to the anthropocentric worldview that has long dominated human culture and thought. We are dedicated to creating art that encourages a shift towards a more eco-centric perspective of a more radical speculative post-humanism. This involves not only recognizing but celebrating the interconnectedness of all life forms and systems. Our projects seek to dismantle the hierarchies that place humans above other beings, instead promoting a vision of mutual respect, symbiosis, and co-evolution.


As we look forward to the future, our excitement is matched by a deep sense of responsibility. The challenges of our time – from environmental degradation to the ethical dilemmas posed by advanced technologies – require creative responses that transcend conventional thinking and create spaces where we can wonder again. 


Poetic AI. Sacrifice. Image courtesy of the artists (c) CROSSLUCID 2023


Poetic AI. Sacrifice. Image courtesy of the artists (c) CROSSLUCID 2023


Cached Dreams. Still from a virtual Installation. Image courtesy of the artists (c) CROSSLUCID 2023


Dwellers Between The Waters. Installation View from Extensions Of Self at Francisco Carolinum Linz. Image courtesy of the artists (c) CROSSLUCID 2023

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