Updated: Jul 18
We are CROSSLUCID, a transdisciplinary artistic collective. Our hybrid practice - both commissioned and self-directed - encompasses creative direction, film, photography, character design, experience-led interventions and the concept of ‘world-building’, often incorporating multi-layered techniques of collage, assemblage, visual essay and CGI.
Interlacing archetypes and symbols, artificial intelligence and science fiction as well as mythologies from across time and place we create scenarios in which we could use storytelling to prototype and rehearse impending futures.
Currently they are working or our new essay feature film Translucid (2022) in conjunction with Adversarial Networks, re-imagining ways of being human in a context of deep ecological, economic, and social mutation told through potent paradigms for the adolescents of the new era.
What is the value of the human face?
In current times, our faces became not only channels for - increasingly virtual - human interaction and encounters: they are often reduced to passwords, digital barcodes, data containers (emotion tracking and biometric data sets for facial recognition) and thus easy targets of ominous control.
Of course, the face has long been used in society for sorting people into discrete categories of labels or symptoms, as well as to constrain or even determine potential interpretations for their behaviour.
While our faces are some of the best developed expressive organs of extra-verbal communication, our high level of obsession with the constant consumption of our self reflection is a worrying development and not solely because of control. This over-emphasis makes it hard to conceive of identity as rooted in something other than facial features, their appearance, color, passability or marketability.
How does our access to new technology influence the way we show our face to the world?
The perpetual self-presentation in the digital realm - often called impression management, becomes not only an individual property but a part of social ‘spectacle’, a commodity that has ‘value on display’, sold to us as a way of rehearsing once unimaginable possibilities of personal performance and play, albeit never unmediated.
“Self-objectification has become ingrained but once you’ve learned to see your body as an object, it becomes really difficult to experience it otherwise.”
More meaningful and collective ways of engaging with technology hold great potential to transform the way we think about the relationship between the face and what lies beneath. It is always the most empowering and rewarding when we can co-create and co-inhabit the virtual space through sharing our stories, dreams, ideas and mysteries. And we should always strive to build for those possibilities that reject the advertising and surveillance driven intelligence and addictive architectures of today’s tech
The developing protocols of web3 and its multisig crypto wallets propose an idea of identity held in its separate parts as tokens that may be shared in different constellations while interacting with services spaces and communities. As a technology this might create a truer representation of our selves, where the self is multiple and not tied to the imperative of the perpetual presentation of one’s face, as we interact with online spaces.
What role do you see your work having in preparing us for post-face(human) worlds?
Our long-running project that deals with these topics most explicitly is Landscapes.
Initially started off as a series of portraits and a book visualizing otherworldly figures and forms flourishing in a future that exists beyond binaries, It investigates the many ways we construct identities and perceive bodily expressions through portraits of humans melding with props and elusive objects.
Rather than an underlying, unchanging substance that acquires and loses properties, we’re making a paradigm shift to seeing the self as a process, as a cumulative network with a changeable integrity.
We don’t have fixed and immutable identities: our identity is multiple, complex and fluid.
This process is especially present In a recent iteration of the project where we collaborated with generative adversarial networks (at the command of data alchemists Martino Sarolli and Emanuela Quaranta) in a quest to uncover further the possible ways in which our selves develop and grow. Being non-biological, AI is able to process and make connections that are beyond our current ability, becoming a mirror for human self-reflection.
The bodies (and faces) presented through the outcome of 5000 unique portraits occupy a space of possibility, transgressing gender, race, canons of beauty and the sublime.
Seeing ourselves as a cumulative network is a fertile way to understand our complexity, and there is immense power in seeing together all the emanations and the underlying networked logic behind the generation of these eerily archetypal beings.
“Because the alien and the artificial are always becoming, because they are always nor quite yet in existence , they help us produce new and ecstatic models of thinking and feeling, speaking and being” Nora N.Khan
Generative adversarial networks (GANs) are algorithmic architectures based on deep learning that use two neural networks, pitting one against the other - thus ‘adversarial’ - in order to generate new, synthetic instances of data that can pass for real data. These algorithms belong to the field of unsupervised learning - a sub-set of Machine Learning which aims to study algorithms that learn the underlying structure of the given data, without specifying a target value.