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Sadie Coles launches SCHQ Electric, a new series of week-long, continually changing, online screenings of artist’s films and video works accessible through the gallery’s website. The inaugural screening is of Lawrence Lek’s CGI film Geomancer, 2017, still available to stream until Thursday 9 April 2020. Sadie Coles HQ tells Something Curated: “In the first instance, the SCHQ Electric project aims to make video works by the artists we represent accessible to audiences from across the globe, for a week at a time and for free. We decided the series should premiere with Lawrence Lek’s CGI film Geomancer (2017), as it provides a brilliant opportunity for the work to be officially presented by the gallery for the first time.”

Lawrence Lek, Geomancer, 2017 [Still]. © Lawrence Lek, Courtesy Sadie Coles HQ, London.

Expanding on Geomancer, the gallery explains: “Set in the near future, the film charts the conscious awakening of an adolescent AI sent down to the city state of Singapore on the eve of the centennial anniversary celebrations. Geomancer explores the tensions in the relationship between humans and artificial intelligence, speculating upon the unfolding possibility that genius may not be limited to the domain of human cognition. It also addresses the notion of geopolitics and how this plays into understandings of ‘the other’, despite the fact we believe we operate in a global Village, there are in fact some interesting divergent attitudes and cultural responses to technology – whether through the lens of surveillance or industry. These are especially interesting questions to be asking right now. In addition, the medium – that is, CGI video game animation, neural network-generated dream sequencing and the synthesised vocal soundtrack – generously lends the film to the experience of viewing via digital channels, be that through smartphones or televisions.”  

Lawrence Lek, Geomancer, 2017 [Still]. © Lawrence Lek, Courtesy Sadie Coles HQ, London.

Offering further insight into what we can look forward to on the platform in the coming weeks, the gallery tells, “We are pleased to be able to continue the series with Lawrence Lek’s feature length film AIDOL (2019), the sequel to Geomancer, that develops upon the complexities surrounding the burgeoning relationship between AI and humanity. While so closely connected, until now the two works have rarely been shown either together or consecutively, so the online viewing series offers a unique platform for the works to be experienced sequentially. The forthcoming programme will involve video works from an international cross-section of artist’s represented by the gallery, that touch upon a plethora of themes and varying formats, from CGI animation to home-spun analogue video – stay tuned for more.”

Lawrence Lek, AIDOL, 2019 [Still]. © Lawrence Lek, Courtesy Sadie Coles HQ, London.

AIDOL, 2019 will follow Geomancer from 9-16 April 2020. Featuring a score written and orchestrated by the artist, this computer-generated fantasy tells the story of a fading superstar, Diva, who enlists an aspiring AI songwriter to mount a comeback performance at the 2065 eSports Olympic finale. Set in a smoke-and-mirrors realm of fantastical architecture, sentient drones and snow-deluged jungles, AIDOL revolves around the long and complex struggle between humanity and Artificial Intelligence. Fame – in all its allure and emptiness – is set against the bigger contradictions of a post-AI world, a world where originality is sometimes no more than an algorithmic trick and where machines have the capacity for love and suffering.

Feature image: Lawrence Lek, Geomancer, 2017 [Still]. © Lawrence Lek, Courtesy Sadie Coles HQ, London.

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