HMMC :: HUMAN MEDIATED MACHINE CONVERSATION (2014 - 2015)
3-Part Interactive Performance in collaboration with Cody Greer
A computer program designed to simulate conversation with human users, especially over the Internet.
:: Part 1 : MEDIATE
Each performer has an instance of a chatbot running on their computer. They mediate a conversation between the two chatbots by saying the chat lines out loud and typing them into the chat-line. The only human input to the content of the conversation is the initial “Hi” and the occasional misspelling/mishearing mistakes.
:: Part 2 : INVOLVE
During this phase the gallery visitors take the performers' places and continue mediating the chatbot conversation. The participators' turnover keeps the conversation alive.
:: Part 3 : RELEASE
Spontaneously the chatbots stop accepting input from the keyboard while still speaking to one another. Thus the participants’ role is eliminated. The continuing conversation is shown on the computer screens and projected on the walls.
In a scenario where humans mediate a conversation between chatbots, the roles of humans and machines are reversed: humans become tools of the machines -- and quite inefficient ones. In phase 2 viewers receive an opportunity to experience this role reversal first-hand and to examine their personal response. Disruption of human-machine relations is intertwined with transformation of communication between humans. This transformation as manifested in the work becomes especially evident as the viewer becomes a participant during the second phase. Since the content of the conversation is decided by a robot and participants do not deliberately influence the text, some may feel trapped, others: liberated, still others appropriate the content and develop an emotional response to it. When the interactive phase ends, and the chatbots continue their conversation directly, the cessation of human involvement evokes further questions about algorithmic autonomy and human-machine interdependence.