World Upstream is a real time simulation centering the relationship between the natural landscape and built infrastructures, through the perspective of an emergent, more-than-human ecosystem reclaiming a decaying hydroelectric dam as a site for leisure.
The dam – a historically charged piece of technology, also one past its prime – serves as a device for speculating on the future of technologies currently at the peak of a hype cycle (AI at large among them,) with a particular focus on how decay and imminent obsolescence allow for subversion and a redistribution of power back to the ecosystems it was taken away from.
Stuck at a perpetual picnic upstream of the dam, protagonists — an autonomous bush, a fisherman and a Dyson AI vacuum among others — fulfill the prophecy of the ecosystem once displaced by the dam’s construction. In creating this fiction, I draw inspiration from Donna Haraway’s notion of “becoming-with” and Karen Barad’s idea of “a world worlding itself”, towards learning alongside the custom-built AI model of each character as a way to unlearn my own anthropocentric worldview.
As an artist, I appreciate the intention of unlearning anthropocentric perspectives through this project. Donna Haraway’s “becoming-with” and Karen Barad’s “world worlding itself” bring an intriguing philosophical dimension to the project, very curious to dig deeper into how this project pursues these ideas through the lens of AI.
The idea of an autonomous bush being part of reclaiming the dam as a leisure site is fascinating, also really enjoying the more-than-human exploration of power dynamics. Best of luck!
I love how World Upstream blurs the boundaries between nature and technology, and I want to learn (and see) more on its ideas around reclamation and subversion, especially in the context of the dam. It’s a thought-provoking project!