This Photography Series Re-Imagines Humans in an AI Future

Using the distorting power of photoshop pixels, a retro magnifying sheet, and the contorting power of a body formally trained as a professional ballerina, photographer Melissa Spiccia brings into cutting opposition the ideas of the Human and the Digital. A Body Reduced is an exploratory look at the effects AI technology could have on power, identity, and human behaviour.

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Melissa’s time as a ballerina and professional contemporary dancer has left her with “a deep interest in the detailed physicality and organisation of the body,” and a fluidity of artistic practice that allows ideas to “shift, respond and materialise in their most suited form.”

In this work, as in others, Melissa’s used her own body as an exploratory medium, using self-timer in a deliberately nondescript London studio in the city where this Australian artist now calls home. A model was hired for additional images. “I wanted a space that was unremarkable, vacant in how it read,” she tells us; “It’s the first time I’ve shot in a studio for my personal work.”

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THE PLUS: What spurred your interest in the conversations around AI?
Melissa Spiccia:
I’m curious to see how we, technology, and artificial intelligence develop and coexist. It’s a hot topic of conversation, and one that’s being approached and viewed from a multitude of perspectives.

TP: Why the armchair?
MS:
I like using everyday objects in my work, and the armchair was in the corner of the studio where the tea making area was. I thought it could add something to the space. There’s something familiar and domestic about it.

TP: Take us through your creative process…
MS:
When I create work I jump between two ways of working – an intuitive state that stems from the body, and one that’s more cognitive, managing and making decisions.

TP: So how do you get your creativity flowing?
MS:
I’ll start with either a clear image or curiosity about something in my mind, then allow the body to take over, shaping the thought or emotion into something more physical.

TP: Both yourself and the model are female – was this something that you wanted to introduce to the mix of ideas being considered?
MS:
Not consciously. I suppose some AI systems have been created with a female voice. Perhaps to appear less threatening. I don’t know. I’m female. But I don’t think in gender or necessarily work with gender in mind. 

TP: You explore question of identity in your work, and yet rarely show the faces of the models. Are these connected?
MS:
Eyes and facial expressions tell a story, and often I find it can be a distraction. Without the face it leaves the image more open to interpretation; it becomes something else.

TP: What concerns you most about for the future of AI? 
MS:
Perhaps losing the human way? What makes us essentially human – our flaws, feelings, secrets and instincts.

TP: And what are you particularly excited about?
MS:
I’m excited about the possibilities AI offers, and believe it can help us to greater heights, allowing us to become more efficient and focused in order to tackle some of the issues that face us presently and in future.

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