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Esmeralda Kosmatopoulos @ Rivington

What I always wanted to tell you
but never dared.

Curated by Clémence Mailly

Parasol Projects: 2 Rivington Street, NY New York 10012
May 30 – June 11
Opening Night: Wednesday, May 31 / 6-9pm

Parasol Projects is pleased to present What I always wanted to tell you but never dared., a solo exhibition of the artist Esmeralda Kosmatopoulos. The show curated by Clémence Mailly will present a new body of work composed of mail art, video, neon, and sound pieces, that uses familiar artificial intelligence tools - namely predictive typing - to explore technology as an extension of one’s self.

This project started when, while typing a message on her smart phone, the artist accidentally pressed several consecutive times the predictive text bar on the screen. Kosmatopoulos, then noticed that through the mechanical gesture of her hand on the screen, the phone had been composing “by itself” full sentences following a proper grammatical structure subject-verb-object. The repetitive quasi-automatic movement the artist was monotonously performing contrasted with the original writing text that was digitally composed on the screen - a text mediated by the phone’s artificial intelligence. The virtual machine had been learning from the artist’s everyday written communications and was now trying to mimic at its best her writing style, appropriating her most used vocabulary, in an attempt to predict her next words. This parapraxis was shedding light on the complex - man versus machine – dialectic in a somehow disturbing way as the phone had been anticipating the artist’s next words without her consent.

Fascinated by this casual though very intrusive manifestation of the machine’s ability to learn, Kosmatopoulos started asking random people met online and offline to perform the same mechanical act. The text obtained would be transcribed onto a letter, signed and then mailed to the artist’s physical address. Every letter framed in the space is the result of this collaborative project between the artist, the participant and its phone, where each of the three actors has a very distinct role: the content of the letter was solely dictated by the predictive function of each given participant’s own smart phone; while the length of the text, format of the letter, choice of paper or pen were left at the discretion of the author of each letter. These messages, mechanically composed by the individual’s stream of consciousness, resemble Surrealist ideas, such as automatic writing or exquisite corpse games in which meaning is thought to emerge from one’s subconscious. 

This mail art project is completed by the video ORACLE where Kosmatopoulos separates the mechanical gesture she performed on the phone from the visual content appearing on her screen. The sound piece You put these words in my mouth features the artist appropriating the codes of live poetry readings, and performing with a very emotional voice passages of the text. The exhibition concludes with the neon artwork = TMI that reminds the viewer of the tacit agreement he or she has with the AI software about accessing private information. 

About the artist:

Esmeralda Kosmatopoulos is a multi-disciplinary conceptual artist working around language and identity. Born in Greece, raised in Paris, she now lives and works between Paris and New York. Her work investigates the definition and construction of identities, personal memories, culture and collective histories in the post-Internet age. She places herself as a translator, building connections between past and present, physical and virtual and ultimately between one and another. 

Her work was exhibited in galleries, institutions and public spaces in North America, Europe and Latin America including Kunsthal Charlottenborg (Copenhagen, Denmark), Künstlerhaus Wien (Vienna, Austria), AMA | Art Museum of the Americas (DC, USA), Palazzo delle Arti Napoli (Naples, Italy), Kunsthal Aarhus (Aarhus, Denmark). Working often in-situ, she was invited to several residencies including Kooshk residency (Tehran, Iran), BAR (Beirut, Lebanon) and MASS MOCA studios (North Adams, USA). Kosmatopoulos also worked alongside socially charged entities such as the Organization of American States (United States), the Kayani foundation (Lebanon) and the Museum Louis Braille (France) to create large-scale installations that raise awareness on social issues. 

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Earlier Event: May 28
Sangyoon Yoon @ Bowery
Later Event: May 31
Wool & Oak @ Elizabeth