The Dark Age of Connectionism (2017)

Wesley Goatley

photo by Pieter Kers

The Dark Age of Connectionism explores the hidden capacities of always-listening devices like the Amazon Echo, and how we may understand the opaque systems behind them. The microphone array inside an Amazon Echo captures not only what is being said to it, but also the approximate position of the speaker in the room, and what music is playing nearby. With the right analytics, this could reveal the footsteps of those in the room, what type of devices are being listened to, or whether voices are raised in anger. Due to the secretive nature of Amazon’s systems, we cannot know whether these or any other discrete analytics are being performed on the sonic data being constantly poured into these always-listening machines. The Dark Age of Connectionism is built around an Amazon Echo suspended in a room, which is being asked questions by ‘Siri’ – a speaker mounted beneath it. Each of the 200+ questions offer a way to critique the Echo, and a question is asked every time a sound from the audience is detected, captured by a series of microphones and vibration sensors installed around the device. Snippets of these sounds are played back around the object, creating disembodied voices of those audience members who have been before.

Exhibited at:

SFX Seoul Festival 2017, 08 December 2017 - 31 January 2018 - Seoul, South-Korea

TEST_LAB: FUNCTION CREEP on 23 November 2017 in V2 - Rotterdam, The Netherlands

Impakt Festival 2017: Haunted Machines and Wicked Problems, 25 October until 12 November 2017 - Utrecht, The Netherlands