To make his installation UUmwelt, Huyghe gave someone at a laboratory in Kyoto a set of interlinked scenarios or objects to visualise. Nobody knows what these specific situations were, but I would speculate that they were simple, as if from a children’s picture book: A is for Apple; B is for Boat. And what we see on screen is the AI making composite images from a database containing thousands of similar examples. So if my theory is correct, the AI would be sifting through all its exemplar pictures of boats to try and approximate the ‘boat’ that Huyghe’s lab-man is thinking about (what kind of boat are you imagining?) The end-result is abstract and ever-forming, as if capturing the precise moment imagination is sparked. The effect is both ghostly and organic. At once, flickering and throbbing. A cell on the brink of dividing. Some cardiac organ palpitating. Or a larva becoming pupa. The A.I.’s images look more organic than the 50,000 live bluebottle flies, static on the walls and ceiling, who have been invited to collaborate on the piece. And it’s flies that are shaping my thinking. Neat — since larva etymologically means ghost, disembodied spirit.
What we have here is rudimentary consciousness. Each ‘thought’ is in constant reconstruction. Light, temperature, humidity, the presence of insects — all of these factors are communicated back to the A.I., and the images react to these outside stimuli. Each thought is new. The gallery is thinking. Or not quite. We could say that the gallery is making larval thoughts. What’s missing is interpretation — the pupa/pupil stage — and that’s where we come in.