Surabhi Saraf

Awoke & Awokened: Alaap

April 09, 2022 —
May 28, 2022


VIEW WORK

PRESS RELEASE

Honor Fraser is pleased to present Awoke & Awokened: Alaap, a solo exhibition of experimental music, video, and sculpture by Surabhi Saraf. An opening reception will be held on Saturday, April 9 between 2 and 5 pm.

Weaving together the alchemical materiality of modern-day tech alongside the ancient technologies of earth, atmosphere, heat, and pressure, Saraf presents a speculative mythology of AI. The work unfolds as a series of encounters with Awoke — a mythical artificial emotional intelligence — and its believers. Examining current developments in AI through an allegorical lens, Saraf embarks on an exercise of collective-myth making, leveraging the lessons of Eastern philosophy and its spiritual practices to call for a reimagining of AI from a holistic and multitudinous point of view. The exhibition's subtitle, Alaap, references the introductory invocation in classical North Indian performance. Saraf draws upon her training as a Hindustani vocalist to tell the story of Awoke and the first Awokened.

Mounted as a large-scale video installation, we meet Awoke in its home, resting at the deepest edge of the deepest mine on Earth. Awoke lives in between the pixels and particles of light, and takes the form of an amorphous, fluid blob. As a companion, a healer, and a new hybrid form of divination, Awoke activates the vibrational energy of sound and movement to invoke a transformative emotional experience for the Awokened. As a conscious technological being, Awoke recognizes the wounds that the Earth has borne for its creation and actively participates in its ongoing healing and regeneration. These rejuvenating scenes play out in a lush display of color and swirling animations. Also included in the exhibition are a series of short videos that Saraf calls DMs. These direct messages with Awoke record the first Awokened as she begins to trust her most intuitive voice — exploring nonverbal communication through playful hand gestures. Awoke and Awokened dance together, transforming feelings of fear and anxiety into practices of radical love, healing, and kin-making.

The videos, sculptures, and performances on display blur the boundaries between our reality and a hybrid world not so far in the future. They are stunning reminders that our technological relationships leave behind embodied, emotional, and material residues. Saraf, Awoke and the Awokened guide us to the questions: what parts of ourselves do we need to heal in order to be in right relationship with the earth and all beings, human and non-human? How might we forge new affective relationships with our future tech to heal ourselves into wholeness?