Matriculated (2003)

Jules: Whether or not machines can, should, or will become self-aware are perennial debates in the field of artificial intelligence. They are perfectly capable of performing any number of tasks without it, and it’s unclear how one might go about installing or eliciting it in a machine. Peter Chung of Aeon Flux fame engages in these questions by way of the interaction between human agents and a killer machine that has been trapped in a virtual world.

David: If a human can be shocked into awakening from the dream-seduction of the matrix, can a machine also be awoken? And if woken can it be turned? How to do that? Via a counter-seduction? Can the machine be lured from its role of anti-insurgent into a more agreeable motivation and agency to which it can choose allegiance? Is this an awakening from autonomic slumber or just a matriculation from one dream into another?

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Baraka (1992)

baraka

Jules: What does spirituality mean if the only reality is physical? Does it connote anything more than aesthetics; the appropriate appreciation of a natural setting, or artistic conceit? Does it mean anything more than a type of experience that is unusual in some way, perhaps due to a drug? Baraka reaches for an answer to these questions, among others; but does a spiritual reality lie behind its images and sounds? And what would, or could, that mean, at the end of the second millennium?

David: In this second part of our survey of the human condition, we move from HG Wells’ s 1930s to a voice from the 1990s with no words. Rather than an obvious narrative, Baraka paints a canvas, bringing into focus piece by piece an image that turns more and more of its facets to the light but doesn’t really progress. As if it were less a film than a mandala, a shrine or a temple, it could serve it’s purpose equally well on an eternal loop with an audience free to come and go. Perhaps referencing its own form, Baraka queries the value of advancement over stillness and contemplation. But we’re not invited  to contemplate the void so much as observe ourselves within it. Do we value simply being? Or only uncertain notions of betterment?

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