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Angela Washko - Survival Rates in Captivity (Free Will Mode #5)

Angela Washko
Survival Rates in Captivity (Free Will Mode #5)
From 2017 programme – Control: Blinding Pleasures guest-curated by Fillippo Lorenzin

Free Will Mode is a series of videos in which the artist uses The Sims to place human artificial intelligence into architectural situations which test the constraints of their ability to rethink the environments they’ve been placed in. Despite the absurdity of these built architectural anomalies, they expose a greater cultural phenomenon within people – the extent to which we accept the hand we’ve been dealt (architecturally, politically, socially, economically). When operating in free will mode, the AI in this strategic life simulation game eat when hungry, piss when necessary, sleep when tired, socialize when bored…but they never alter the environment they’ve inherited, even if it kills them. The videos reveal the artificial idiocy built into the AI as well as the cultural biases built into the overall game design as the Sims world rapidly breaks down when operating outside of the buy-nicer-houses-get-better-jobs-and-get-married-and-have-babies model. In this version of the work titled Free Will Mode: Survival Rates in Captivity, Washko created two identical architectural spaces on two machines, with two sets of gender segregated “family units” separated into domestic space and outdoor space and performed by operating cameras on both but otherwise allowing the AI to perform inside the game architecture for her. The experiment took place for a live audience at the VIA Festival in Pittsburgh, PA and has been edited as a two channel video experience commissioned by arebyte Gallery in London and curator Filippo Lorenzin.

Angela Washko is an artist who creates new forums for discussions about feminism in spaces frequently hostile toward it. Washko’s practice spans media interventions, performance art, digital works, video and video games. In 2012 Angela Washko founded The Council on Gender Sensitivity and Behavioral Awareness in World of Warcraft, an intervention inside the popular multiplayer online role-playing game. She is currently working on an experimental documentary film about RuPaul’s Drag Race contestant Mrs. Kasha Davis.

A recent recipient of the Creative Capital Award, the Impact Award at Indiecade, the Franklin Furnace Performance Fund, and a Frank-Ratchye Fund for Art at the Frontier Grant, Washko’s practice has been highlighted in The New Yorker, Frieze Magazine, Time Magazine, The Guardian, ArtForum, The Los Angeles Times, Art in America, The New York Times and more. Her projects have been presented internationally at venues including Museum of the Moving Image (New York), Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art, Milan Design Triennale, Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art (Helsinki), Shenzhen Independent Animation Biennial and the Rotterdam International Film Festival. Angela Washko is an Assistant Professor of Art at Carnegie Mellon University and a research fellow at the Frank-Ratchye STUDIO for Creative Inquiry.

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