Artificial intelligence is already deeply embedded in our culture and everyday lives. It is aimed at optimizing resources and creating personalized experiences. In his new exhibition, Ristomatti Myllylahti addresses the potential that can be generated when the boundary between humans and machines is relaxed. He takes the digital sphere that surrounds us and lets it flow freely into his work. He draws inspiration from the aesthetic created by artificial intelligence. Many of his artworks spring from a playful dialogue with various types of program and algorithm. He brings out the engaging, liberating nature of the material generated by algorithms. Myllylahti produces a concoction of found, recycled, and processed objects and materials. The installation contains consumer objects, sculptures, trash, sound and moving images.
At the heart of Myllylahti’s work is the joy and freedom of art. His working process is founded on setting ideas in motion and then following that motion and using it to improvise. He also works in music under the name Elatu Nessa. He is interested in the way that music and art interact and how they occasionally merge. The Pampering Machine is the result of a kind of feedback loop in which he has ideas and materials make several passes through the programs and himself. Myllylahti corrects and imitates the suggestions that come out of the software. He mixes freely different techniques and materials, with AI being just one of the many tools he employs in his artistic process. This interplay results in an installation that is both human and machine, both comical and uncanny at the same time. Ghostly characters hang in the exhibition space. Myllylahti himself says they are waiting for the internet to crash and for the final dissolution of the human body. In these digital ghosts, in one instant, we think we are seeing something human and, in the next, they gape back at us like empty shells. It is as if the code communicates out through Myllylahti into our ether, like spirits channelled through the medium at a séance.
Myllylahti uses his art to encourage us to see the possibilities that lie in the creative processes that exist outside the theoretical and analytical structures of visual art. The software comes in with healthy, uncritical noise that can lift up our gaze to something we may not ourselves have seen or thought. Just as an enchanting sunset causes us to stop and admire the fact that we are a part of nature and of all living things, playful encounters with AI can cause us to realize that the boundaries are being erased and that the digital world that we ourselves have created is a natural, functional part of us.