Real Large Numbers Talk: The Observatory

Really Large Numbers (Julia Oldham and Chad Stayrook) discuss their exhibit The Observatory at Smack Mellon.

The Observatory is a multimedia installation that envisions a post-climate change, post-apocalyptic future. Inside a large sculptural observatory will be a video monitor showing the daily routines of Stayrook, the last remaining human. A three-channel video projection on the large gallery wall depicts earth as a deserted wasteland with a female artificial intelligence (AI) system, performed by Oldham, who acts as both companion and guide to the human, teaching him how to navigate the harsh environment, but also as her own independent character, exploring the world without the bodily limitations of a human. Flipping gender-typical roles, the male human is a captive and limited stargazer searching through a telescope for something unknown in the heavens, while the female AI character has absolute agency. The Observatory reflects on the human desire for immortality in the face of ecological collapse, while taking into account the inevitability of great change.