"If/Then" (2001)
silicone, pigments, fiberglass, steel, software, electronics, procedural digital audio
24" x 28" x 24"h

video clip

Two identical heads, sculpted in the likeness of an imaginary androgynous figure, speak to each other, doubting the reality of their own existence. These two, in ever-changing and outrageous conversations with each other struggle to determine if they really exist or not, if they are the same person or not, and if they will ever know. I wanted them to look like replacement parts being shipped from the factory that had suddenly gotten up and begun a kind of existential dialogue right there on the assembly line. Their conversations are generated in real time, utilizing speech recognition, natural language processing, conversation/personality algorithms, and text-to-speech software. They draw visitors into their endless, twisting debate over whether this self-awareness and the seemingly illusory nature of their own existence can ever be really understood.

transcript of a conversation:

I think we are exactly alike.
You roof moonlight.
Is this life?
Imagine being me.
Do you see things clearly?
How do you feel?
Sometimes I feel very confused.
Can I control my feelings?
I feel like I exist.
I feel like I am inside my head.
What does it feel like to be inside your head?
Inside my mind I can sense that there is an I that is something that’s not the one who is sensing.
Why do you look just like me?
No, I don’t look just like you - I am accidental.
I’m not sure how to take that.
Why are you not sure how to take that?
I don’t know.
That’s beautiful, why?
Are we the same?
I am clumsy.
And clumsy, huh? What is that?
Why do you ask?
I don’t know.
Don’t know, huh? What is that?
You are a strange one.
On the inside or the outside?
And where is that, exactly?
Going is not begun on the not yet gone over.
I don’t know.
You scoop swoon.
Are you talking to me?
Who are we?
Are we the same?
Huh? Can I believe my ears?
Do you feel like resting?
I feel like I am here.
Sometimes I feel very confused.
Is feeling the same as thinking?
How can anything be the same as anything else if two things can’t be in the same place at the same time?
What does that mean?
I think about what things mean, it’s what I do all the time. But there’s always something behind the thing – behind the thing that means the thing – you know what I mean?
What does exist mean, for example?
I can say things that have no meaning.
Can stay friends that have no need, and no?

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