Taken By Artificial Surprise

Taken By Artificial Surprise

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Culture Lab LIC at The Plaxall Gallery

5-25 46th Avenue

Queens, NY 11101

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"Taken by Artificial Surprise" — Performance and installation series by Jeanette Andrews exploring magic, surprise, and machine learning.

About this event

If you have reserved a seat and cannot attend, please cancel your reservation so that your place can be offered to another attendee. (Free. $1.00 fee required to hold your reservation )

Jeanette Andrews presents a performance and installation series exploring the relationships between magic, machine learning, and surprise. It welcomes you to step inside a thought-experiment – a Turing Test of sorts. The performance aspect of this work highlights historic pieces of magic presented alongside magic developed with the help of AI with varying levels of surprise, and participants might find themselves a bit unsure as to which may be which.

In 1950, pioneering mathematician and computer scientist Alan Turing wrote the seminal paper, "Computing Machinery and Intelligence." He drew inspiration from Victorian-era parlor games to imagine his own parlor-style amusement, the imitation game, This inspired the now-famous Turing test and utilized the question, "can a machine take us by surprise?" as a way to investigate artificial / computational intelligence. Taken by Artificial Surprise explores historic parlor magic to examine hierarchies of surprise and the human creation of surprise as compared and contrasted to that of machines. What might performances of the seemingly impossible demonstrate about the capabilities and limitations of both machine learning and the human mind? Andrews invites participants to think about what constitutes the experience of surprise itself and whether surprise is a unique, defining factor of human consciousness. The work also highlights how the mechanisms to create surprise lie deep within the gaps of lived and learned experience and are perhaps made using the ontological commitments and sense data of robust personal and cultural experiences. The work may also provoke questions as to whether a computer or a human is capable of producing more surprising results. Andrews also notes that, “this project was inspired by my time as an Affiliate at metaLAB (at) Harvard. During this time I was fortunate to have encountered a diversity of ideas and research, and discourse with metaLAB members also greatly assisted the ideation process.” This work is made possible by Franklin Furnace Archive, Inc. and the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Kathy Hochul and the New York State Legislature.

The Artist:

Jeanette Andrews (1990) is a New York City-based artist, magician, and researcher. Andrews’s work focuses on the development of interactive magic and sensory illusions via performance, sculpture, installation, and audio. Over 27 years of specialized study and technical training in parlor and sleight-of-hand magic has now afforded her a distinct perspective on crafting experiences with nuanced, surreal visuals and on designing objects that function completely differently than they appear. Her research-based process centers around phenomenological philosophy, contemporary cognitive science, and physics. Work is rooted in highlighting astonishing aspects of everyday life via moments of the seemingly impossible. Themes have included invisibility, impossible objects, the relationship between scent and magic, unseen communication, and how illusions can construct reality. Andrews works closely with museums and galleries to recontextualize magic within the cultural arts and explore this craft as a performance art medium. She has presented commissioned and site-specific works with the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, Elmhurst Art Museum, Birmingham Museum of Art, and International Museum of Surgical Science. She is an artist-in-residence for CultureLab LIC and has held residencies at High Concept Labs in Chicago and The Institute for Art and Olfaction in Los Angeles. She is an Affiliate of metaLAB (at) Harvard. Illusion is Andrews’s life’s work and her performances have been praised by the Chicago Tribune, PBS, and the New York Times.

About Culture Lab LIC

Culture Lab LIC is a 501(c)(3) formed to bring accessible, high quality art of all genres to our community, and to support local artists by providing rehearsal, performance, exhibition space, as well as a robust residency program. CL is dedicated to upholding, equity, diversity and inclusion across all our platforms.

Operating out of a 12,000 square foot art center, Culture Lab LIC hosts two fine art galleries, a 90 seat theatre, classroom space, and an 18,000 square foot outdoor venue, made possible by the generous donation of space from Plaxall Inc. CL is honored to host more arts programming than any other organization in New York City. Culture Lab is more than a venue, it is the heart of Long Island City.

A very special thanks to Plaxall Inc. for the donation of this amazing space and supporting us in turning it into this cornerstone of arts and community activity!



This project was also made possible with funds from the Statewide Community Regrant program, a program of the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Kathy Hochul and the New York State Legislature and administered by Flushing Town Hall.

If you have reserved a seat and cannot attend, please cancel your reservation so that your place can be offered to another attendee. (Free. $1.00 fee required to hold your reservation )

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