Last month, Content accompanied artist Sarah Rosalena Brady for an evening at the Iris & B. Gerald Cantor Center for Visual Arts at Stanford University to discuss the works in the museum and her own influences. Brady is based in LA but was recently a resident at the Djerassi Resident Artists Program in Woodside, CA. Her work combines technology and art to imagine new non-Western-dominant futures. Right now, she is focusing on a software of her design that developed its own language without any cultural bias.
This article is part of a partnership between Content and the Djerassi Resident Artists Program that brought Djerassi artists from all over the world in contact with Silicon Valley’s creative culture.
“I’m half Irish, but I’m also First Nations Laguna Pueblo and Mexican, so a lot of my work deals around colonization and how that is now being reflected in outer space…The technology being used now is directly resulted from this constant need to consume more, take over more. We’re running out of resources, so now we’re looking out to space, but you know, indigenous people have always been exploited in that point, and now we’re using AI, like Siri, all these new automated things who are going to be taking the brunt in the future…What’s so scary about AI is that it’s been created through the military, it’s being used in ways that are exploitative toward human people. [We should be] teaching it different perspectives, teaching it to make art.”
“I have been thinking a lot about monsters, mostly just in particular that they’re kind of considered ‘the other,’ and I feel like a lot of AI is considered very other. In science fiction, it’s ‘Do you wanna play the monster for bad or for good?’ That’s cause it’s the outsider…I really love ideas on Frankenstein because Frankenstein’s kind of a chimera. He’s like a hybrid form of multiple parts, which I think really speaks to a lot of art and technology because it’s a combination of a variety of things like life and non-life, artificial and real.”
“I think of [pictographic alphabets] as predominantly in a state where they’re not used because of colonization. In particular, a lot of pictographic alphabets were found in the Americas and South America, which has been changed over to much more of a Latin-based alphabet. That was one of the reasons I really loved training a lot of my work on pictographic languages because a lot of it is unknown, unused….A lot of my work deals with power structures, and language was what kind of drew me into that because that’s one of the first things that people will exterminate when they colonize a people.”
“Art and colonialism, you can see so much luxury and riches, and a lot of this is mostly funded through families that were heavily involved with trade and in the churches, so it was basically built off slavery and the destruction of a lot of colonized countries…I feel very lucky that [I’m] based in Los Angeles because I feel like there’s been a shift…There are a lot of artists and curators and institutions that are interested in giving opportunities more to people of color. One of the best shows that I’ve seen recently was curated by Helen Molesworth, and she was actually fired from MOCA for constantly wanting to put more people of color in shows…The ideology behind a lot of colonial art, colonial aesthetics, is completely outdated and now it’s really starting to bring up its head…it’s more important to start branching out and thinking in different ways.”
“I love Afrofuturism. A lot of my work actually is inspired by Afrofuturism, but thinking about it more in the Americas and also with tech…To be honest, when I saw Black Panther, I was like ‘yeaaahh!’ Because in that film they have their own technology—and it’s far superior—that they have hidden from colonization, because they were able to hide. I think it’s so fascinating.”