Work by artist and curator Gosia Wojas (Art BFA 19) is on view at the University of California Irvine (UCI) alumni exhibition Intimate Things, which opened last month and runs through Saturday, Jan. 7 at Phase Gallery in Los Angeles.
In the center of one of the gallery spaces stands Melancholy of the self, Wojas’ silicone and steel work inspired by French philosopher Catherine Malabou’s 2022 essay collection Plasticity: The Promise of Explosion. Resembling a flattened human appendage etched with bejeweled circuitry, the sculpture is the result of three years’ worth of research on female sex robots and AI/ML (artificial intelligence/machine language).
Wojas discussed Melancholy of the self—and the ongoing project of which it is a part—in a recent email interview with 24700:
First part of this project was presented as a solo show, Complex systems, at University Art Gallery, UC Irvine in Spring 2022. The project charts inherent bias in AI that is often also gendered, alongside my critical investigations into the materiality of the female sex robots vis-a-vis the mimetic subject-object relations. In Complex systems I presented the result of my interventions into the AIML knowledge system of the female sex robot, and its inherently discriminatory classification of information.
The work in Intimate Things takes its inspiration from Complex systems but is also a mediation on the complex co-relation of human and artificial bodies. Body prosthesis, artificial skin technologies, and human simulation models with endless aspirations to replicate human body (in sex dolls/sex toys) seem comical but also melancholic, wanting to hold on to something that is passing or has already passed. It’s an incredibly empathic relation.
In October 2022, Wojas was invited by Vince Lynch, CEO of LA-based data analyst company IV.AI, for a discussion about possible feminist approaches to AI machine learning at the World Ethical Data Forum. Wojas and Lynch, who share an interest in responsible coding, data sourcing, and human-AI interaction, have been discussing AI/ML systems and her work on female sex robots for the past half year.
“In the context of my project where the industries of sex and tech collide feminist scholarship offers a much needed voice of difference,” shared Wojas. “Introducing diverse feminist and critical theory into the algorithm of the AI sex doll is a method that helps us diagnose inequalities within the algorithm to ultimately reveal sites of power and possible agency.”
Wojas is a Polish-born, LA-based artist, curator, cultural worker, and organizer who “probes at the political, social and economic signification of objects, materials and gestures often regarded as peripheral or insignificant.” From 2011 to 2021, she organized talks, screenings, exhibitions, and performances through her curatorial endeavors The Absent Museum and Project Papier at venues in LA, Berlin, and Gdańsk, Poland. The first installment of Wojas’ Absent Museum series, Making an Activist, was held at CalArts’ Bijou Auditorium in April 2019. In 2021, she published her volume book Material-i-ty, which featured texts by her Projekt Papier contacts and designed with funds from the School of Art. She received her MFA from UCI with an emphasis in critical theory from UCI’s School of Humanities in 2022.
Wojas’ sculpture at Phase Gallery joins works by fellow UCI alums Katherine Aungier, Andy Bennett, Hiroshi Clark, Tarik Garrett, Rahel Levine, and Doris Rivera. View their work at the gallery’s official site. Intimate Things concludes this Saturday with a closing reception at 6 pm, featuring a performance and “sad karaoke.”