Is that the Meaning of Freedom?
Kawita Vatanajyankur and Pat Pataranutapron, Mental Machine: Labour in the Self Economy, 2022, The Art Gallery of Western Australia, Perth
Production Company – VAM Media
Director / Producer – Luna Laure
Executive Producer – Brendan Hutchens
Director of Photography – Dave LeMay ACS
Cameras – Dave LeMay ACS, Luna Laure, Brendan Hutchens
“You may be able to replicate my technique but you’ll never capture my soul.”
Thai video and performance artist Kawita Vatanajyankur reflects upon the meaning of freedom in an era of accelerated technological change and enhancement.
Kawita and her collaborator Pat Pataranutaporn, from Fluid Interface at MIT Media Lab, were invited by SLF ICAA to create a new 45 minute performance – Mental Machine: Labour in the Self Economy, performed on the 22nd of July at AGWA.
In Mental Machine, Kawita becomes a human-machine hybrid. As machine, her personal data is used to create two AI images, or deepfakes, which were been uniquely programmed with different beliefs and mindsets. As a tool, she is enfolded in yarn and twists, weaves and pulls herself across a 15 x 9 meter platform, threading a networked textile which charts the movement of capital across South East Asia.
Throughout the performance Kawita’s movements are guided by her two cybernetic selves and their untroubled conversation which traverses the current conditions of capitalism and neoliberalism, work and labour practices, free will and what it means to be human. Throughout the performance Kawita encounters a multitude of options that influence her labour and shape her decision to repetitiously threat this ever-growing textile, or to unravel the threads with equal effort.
Through the commitment of body and likeness, Mental Machine questions the structures which control or constrain our humanity. As Kawita reflects, “Yes the world can be cold and hard, but that doesn’t mean we have to give up on humanity. We can still fight for a world that is filled with love and light.”