Last week, world leaders (and Elon Musk) met for the UK's first AI summit. This week, Chinese politician Xi Jinping made a statement urging countries to unite in tackling AI challenges. If you're someone worried about what AI means for the future of human existence, you're not alone, but fear doesn't help anyone, after all - the technology is already here, and the reality is, it's been here for a while.
Taking heed of what a hot topic AI has become, directing duo rubberband. - represented by SMUGGLER - have based the entire premise of their latest film ChatFOS around the technology. Armed with a title that's as self explanatory as the film's concept, the short takes aim at the extremes that exist on both sides of the coin engulfed within the AI rhetoric.
No strangers to creative experimentation, another recent work of theirs saw the pair join forces with GRAMMY award-winning artist Lucky Daye to create a music video for the artist's new single N.W.A, which blended physical and digital mediums by bringing a magazine to life through robotic technology, motion control and, interestingly, mathematics.
This time, the duo have turned to fashion, a medium that's remained relatively untouched by the technology - or at least in terms of how we dress - until now. By posing the question of how might the way we consume style affect our identities, rubberband. explore the idea and potentials of what happens when our minds are essentially 'hijacked' by the technology and more importantly, what that does concerning the evolution of humankind.
Speaking of the rising popularity of AI on the creativity front, rubberband. told SHOWstudio in an exclusive interview that the technology has enabled people to 'create in really interesting ways', going on to note the number of artists and filmmakers they admire and follow in this space. 'Jon Rafman, Pierre Huyghe and Jacolby Satterwhite all seem to be pushing the boundaries. Paul Trillo is someone who we’ve seen do amazing things with AI in the video art space and we deeply appreciate the access he provides to understanding the process behind his work. What's so special is that you can feel the humanity in it; there’s a master of craft at work there, and AI is just a tool.'
As for the film itself, it starts with a monologue given via a nameless protagonist, sat in a bedroom, modestly dressed in undergarments; a white vest and boxers. 'I've tried these apps where you pay for a style professional and they call you and talk you through looks and stuff... generally, I get self conscious, hanging up half way through'. Slowly, viewers come to realise we're not listening to some heartfelt piece by someone who doesn't know how to dress themselves - we're witnessing a conversation between two actors, only one comes in the form of a computer. 'It's important to remember that your suitcase is just a tool for carrying your belongings', spouts the AI. 'And it doesn't define your worth or value as a person', right on. The conversation deepens, depending on the protagonist's human responses that weave in subtle cues about his life outside of getting dressed in the morning. 'You're attracted to women?' asks the AI and before you know it, helpers wander in to help the actor get dressed, as instructed by the machine he's talking with.
Interested in the film's premise posing a very realistic future that hasn't quite landed yet, we ask rubberband. why they think the creative use of AI, particularly in styling, is a conversation many people are having today. 'These technologies are new', the duo affirm. 'Everyone wants to play with them and that inherent human desire to play in a new sandbox is essentially par for the course in the worlds of art and fashion.' Despite the very real risks AI threatens us with, rubberband. look at the novel technology as more of a symbol in the natural progression of mankind itself, highlighting, 'It runs along the course of any other creative innovation: from the inception of the talkie to the invention of the radio. Once one human picks up a new tool of creation, so must others. We see the potential in AI as a new artistic medium and with a new medium, comes new challenges, ideological questions and a new landscape of creation.'
Instead, ChatFOS isn't there to scare, it's there to warn and if anything, comfort. 'The real threat AI poses is to human culture itself', note rubberband. 'Laziness toward writing, creating, sculpting, or simply yearning for a result feel easily remedied by AI. If we rely too heavily on it to facilitate that uncomfortable feeling of trying and failing, the yield of cultural and creative endeavours becomes way less interesting. This is what our film is about, that's the fear we have when we talk about AI'.