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Christopher Kulendran Thomas

Being human in the age of machine learning

Artist Christopher Kulendran Thomas explores creativity as a humanist fiction and examines the contours of geopolitical power through which the category of ‘human’ itself is defined. Using cloud computing to make paintings, Christopher Kulendran Thomas’ abstract compositions are generated by machine learning algorithms trained on the work of many of Sri Lanka’s most successful artists. These artists have risen to regional prominence following the brutal end of the Sri Lankan Civil War in 2009. While the international community turned a blind eye to human rights violations, that war wiped out the Tamil homeland of Eelam in the North and East of the island, which is where Kulendran Thomas’ family is from. In the months following that violence (and with the island’s subsequent economic liberalisation), the first white cube commercial galleries opened in the capital Colombo, projecting liberal values internationally and representing a generation of artists influenced by the Western canon encountered online.
Kulendran Thomas’ film “Being Human” (2019) is the basis for this lecture and for the paintings in the exhibition “The Clouds and the Cloud”. Shot in Sri Lanka in collaboration with Annika Kuhlmann, the film features characters generated using machine learning algorithms, spinning an elliptical journey around the island from the Colombo Art Biennale to the former Tamil homeland of Eelam.

The talk will be broadcasted live via Zoom and YouTube.

Lecture in English

Lecture series in cooperation with the Department of Art History at University of Siegen

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