Distant Affinities

Will Luers

Distant Affinities is a work of recombinant cinema about machine intelligence attempting to process, narrate and mimic sentient being. Through subtitles, the omniscient AI narrator cycles through media that has been captured from the network and attempts a narrative interpretation of the patterns of human behavior in its biosphere. Disparate data points and (un)continuous video loops resist being systematized or narrativized. The distances or gaps between the text and video fragments suggest what remains outside the domains of surveillance and narrative. An allegory of the vagaries of networked life existing within larger webs of living and non-living systems, the work shows a world coming apart, but also transforming into a more spacious mode of being made of errant language, creaturely life, isolated gestures and mutating interfaces.

Distant Affinities is programmed to oscillate between a probabilistic distribution of media elements and controlled narrative sequencing; between poetic montage and spatio-temporal continuity. Video, audio and text fragments appear on the screen in semi-indeterminate arrangements, depicting the chaotic flux of a technological world endlessly changing and repeating itself with each user click. Clicking on certain fragments “zooms in” voyeuristically on moments of individual lives, full of their own complex cycles of sensation, memory, thought, embodied and disembodied living. Loops, nested and at various scales, are employed to convey a fractal temporality. The intention of the work is to create an ambient and fluid experience, at times adrift in indeterminate structures and processes and at other times stimulating in the viewer a search for meaningful patterns.

About the Artist

Will Luers is digital media artist and writer living in Portland, Oregon. His art has been exhibited internationally and selected for various festivals and conferences, including the Electronic Literature Organization, FILE(Brazil) and ISEA. The recombinant e-lit work novelling, his collaboration with Hazel Smith and Roger Dean, won the 2018 Robert Coover Award for Electronic Literature. In the Creative Media & Digital Culture program at Washington State University Vancouver, he teaches multimedia authoring, creative programming, digital storytelling and digital cinema.