Documentation of “Arctificial Pandemonium”, exhibition as part of the practice based PhD at the University of Reading, Sept. 2015

1 Oct

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Chapter 5: Manifests and Mirrors (Artwork)

Arctificial Territory

2 Jul


Arctificial Territory


Department of Art

Gudrun Bielz

July 2015



2 Jul

I confirm that this is my own work and the use of all material from other sources has been properly and fully acknowledged.

Gudrun Bielz



Online Publication

2 Jul

Because formatting parameters in this blog are different to formatting systems in desktop publishing, I had to use different typefaces, styles, font sizes, and paragraph formatting. In each chapter of the online publication, footnote numbering starts with the number 1.

I have linked the most relevant statements, persons, and events to their original online sources.

In the written thesis, the photo documentation of the exhibition can be found in Appendix C. In the online publication, photos of Arctificial Pandemonium are at the beginning of the dissertation.

The reader can comment on each chapter. I welcome contributions, ideas, and critique. This PhD is part of an ongoing process of generating knowledge and creating art work.


2 Jul

Table of Contents


I am grateful to my supervisor Dr. Kate Allen for her invaluable support throughout this research. I would also like to thank my former supervisors Dr. Jonathan Dronsfield and Prof. Stephen Buckley for their generous support. I would like to thank Eliza Bonham Carter who encouraged me to commence this research. My special thanks go to Dr. Juliet Steyn who became my supervisor after Dr. Dronsfield left the university.

I am indebted to the philosophers Dr. Timothy Morton and Dr. Dan O’Hara who found time to discuss aspects of my PhD with me. The artist VALIE EXPORT has been a great friend and advertised my new art movement. I would also like to thank Steina Vasulka for her support.

I am grateful for the encouragement by my friends Dr. Daria Pankl, Kim L. Pace, Sylvana Strasser, and Claudia Strauss. I would also like to thank Ralph Engelhard for his support in the past.

I would like to thank the [singularity] email list @ with Dr. Ben Goertzel and Dr. Natasha Vita-More, to name two of its illustrious members, for having accepted me when I started this thesis. My thanks go to Eliezer Yudkowsky who let me post on the Less Wrong blog.

I am grateful for the support by Dr. Peter Harris at the Centre for Advanced Microscopy, University of Reading. I would like to thank Dr. David J. Stent who invited me to participate at his project Digital Hybridity (2011) with D-MARC, University of Derby. I am grateful to Dr. Roger Cook who asked me to participate at the conference Transversalities (2005), University of Reading.

I would like to thank those who have provided me with a stimulating intellectual environment: the Warwick Knowledge Centre with Virtual Futures, Ray Kurzweil (mailing list and group on FB), the SENS Foundation: Dr. Aubrey de Grey, IEET (Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies), Zero State with Dr. Amon Twyman and Dirk Bruere, the Singularity Network with Nikola Danaylov, and individuals like Dr. Rachel Armstrong, Dr. Laura Beloff, Luke Robert Mason, Rajat Luthra, Dr. Anders Sandberg, and Todd Huffman, to name a few.

Without dancing Flamenco and to music by Booba, Radiohead, and The Mars Volta, it would have been more difficult to write up my PhD. I needed to shake my limbs as much as my brain. Thanks to these musicians. I am also grateful to the Rambert Dance Company in London for having taught me some fundamentals of modern dance.

No words can express the gratitude for my mother Martha Bielz, née Macknig, who had many talents. She encouraged me to become an artist. Unfortunately, she did not accomplish her dream of becoming a fashion designer because of the outbreak of WWII and because her father was persecuted by Nazi Germany for his political stance.

Table of Contents




2 Jul

Table of Contents


This practice based PhD examines obsessive-compulsive disorder, psychological space, models of consciousness, artwork by selected artists, ideas of posthumanism and transhumanism, immortality and afterlife fantasies, and the philosophical concept of the other (the stranger to ourselves). My thesis and practice posit a new psychological space for art called Arctificial Territory. Arctificial is a neologism: a combination of artificial and arctic.

The parameters of this thesis are set by an exhibition, Arctificial Pandemonium, accompanied by a text derived from theoretical research, literary texts, images, videos, and links to music, all published online. Users can add comments and expand on the thesis itself. The aim of this format is to encourage a creative process that continues to generate material accessible with no end point. Feedback loops (Norbert Wiener), the rhizome (Paul Deleuze and Felix Guattari), and Paul Feyerabend’s concept of non-monistic methods are deployed to describe my methodology and to frame my practice. Artwork, philosophy, literary text, and theoretical theories – all are interlinked.

The form itself apes the interconnectivity of linked systems. Obsessive-compulsive traits are informed by repetitions and rituals, which are covering up fear and chaos. Non-linear methods are not chaotic and not repetitive, so they allow for branching out, feeding back and forward, and communicating in a poly-directional way that leads to Arctificialism, as proven in this thesis.

This work explores the creative potential of obsession, compulsion, and control mixed with ideas of artificial intelligence and immortality. Experiments through video making, research, and writing have led me to invent the term “arctificial” and create Arctificial Territory which in itself is the embodiment of a psychological space.

Arctificial Territory as a space has produced artwork that, over the course of this research, has developed into the idea of an art movement, Arctificialism. Works by VALIE EXPORT, Steina Vasulka, and Park Chan-wook are considered in relation to my own practice; as I argue they inhabit a complex and apparently dysfunctional psychological space that is similar to my idea of an “arctificial” space that demonstrates some obsessive-compulsive traits.

Arctificial Territory is recognised by VALIE EXPORT, who I had invited to inhabit Arctificial Territory and introduced to the concept of Arctificialism. EXPORT’S response was to employ Arctificialism as a means to undertake her dream journey to the Arctic and the Antarctic, as exhibited in my accompanying exhibition.

This thesis thus invents and explores a new artistic psychological space. The creation of the terms Arctificial Territory and Arctificialism gives art such as EXPORT’s and my own a new context and terminology in which to discuss our art practice.



Table of Contents



Table of Contents

2 Jul

Arctificial Territory




     Introduction and Methodology                                                            

           Video No.2, 23’18”


                      Short Interlude: A Tiny Jump into the Future Present

                      Research Question



Contextual Scene: Artwork


           Background: Artwork, Films, and Literature

                        No Empty Space Available

                        Unreliable Perceptions

                               Key Terms

                               Broken Glass

                               Everything Orbits Around Myself

                               I Am a Machine, Not a Human



CHAPTER 1: Feed Us, Please Feed Us – We Need You


             Fun Fair: A Trip to Post- and Transhuman Stuff

                         Never the Same Again

                         Background Radiation: Entering the World

                         of Arctificial Territory

                         Neither One nor the Other

                         Order, Order

                         Sweeter than Chocolate

            Something So Alien that It Hurts

                        The Foreigner Within Us

                        Strangers to Ourselves

                        Mirror, Mirror on the Wall, Who is the Most Obsessive

                        of All

                        The Other and the Same

              Arctificial Otherness: Summary

                        Video No. 9, 49”

CHAPTER 2: In Control – Out of Control


            Video No. 1, 1’07”

            Control Fields

            Follow Me, I Show You Some Secrets

                        Once More: In Control – Out of Control

                        First Hand Account

                        It Is Lonely Out There

            We are Allergic: OC and Arctificial

                        More, More, More: More About OC and Machines

                        Overload: Survival Strategies

                        OCAL, OCAL, Repeat OCAL: Projections

                        Angst:  What Is OCAL Afraid of?

                        Facts or Fiction: A Pathological Species


                        Paradox: In and Out of the Control Rollercoaster

                        Primary Obsessive Slowness: The Atomic Clock and Attoworld

                        Peep, Peep:  Peep Show

            Danger: Don’t Press This Button

CHAPTER 3: Please, Don’t Render Me Unconscious


            Consciousness Is Stuff

                       Short Journey: The Jungle of Hypotheses

                       An Ideal Supposition for OCAL


                       Video No. 4, 2’54”

                       Finale 1: Zombie, Zombie

                       Finale 2: The Twins: Consciousness & Unconsciousness

            Arctificial Flavours

Video No. 3, 2’52”

            Another Place in Another Narrative: Emotions

                       Throwing Emotions like Throwing Tantrums

                                  The Robot’s Dilemma

                                   Hungry, Hungry

                                  Cry Baby Cry: Arctificial Emotion

                                  Fictional Facts or Factual Fiction

                                  Empathy Rollercoaster                             

CHAPTER 4: Dream Away Baby, Your Head Is Rolling


           Too Much Afterlife

                       Video No. 6, 1’12”


                                  Video No. 7, 1’12”

                                   Impure Bodies and Pure Souls

                                   Video No. 10, 1’41”

                       Stuck in Loops

                                   Other Faces of OCAL

                                   Immortality Delayed

                       Heavenly Bodies: The True Afterlife Chapter

                                   Don’t Forget, Do Forget: Immortal Arctificiality

                                   Aftermath: No End in Sight

                                   Video No. 8, 2’28”

CHAPTER 5: Manifests and Mirrors

            Video No. 5, 2’15”


            Merging Duchamp-land with Turing-land

            The OCAL Manifesto

            Mirroring My Videos: If One Can See Reflection as a Feedback Loop

                        Video No. 11, 3’02”

                        Mirror, Mirror on the Wall

                        Video No. 12, 40″


            Video No. 13, 1’02”


            Pathways to Arctificial Territory


APPENDIX A: AI Bots Confess: I Am OC

APPENDIX B: Additional Artwork and Blogs

Bibliography and Other Sources


            Filmography and Videography

            Conference Presentations and Exhibitions

            Conferences, Talks, and Exhibitions Attended

            Artwork and Music


            Art & Science Organisations



Illustration Index

Illustration 1: Video still, Gudrun Bielz. The Arctificial Obsessive

            Compulsive Project: An Introduction (2007)

Illustration 2: Gudrun Bielz, A strategy for an apparently simple life –

            OCAL (2011), Arctificiality at WordPress, screenshot

Illustration 3: Video still, Gudrun Bielz, Grauer Raum mit Blau (1987)

Illustration 4: Installation view, Gudrun Bielz, Untitled 1 (1992)

Illustration 5: Installation view, Gudrun Bielz, No Empty Space Available?


Illustration 6: Film still 1, VALIE EXPORT, Invisible Adversaries (1976),


Illustration 7: Film still 2, VALIE EXPORT, Invisible Adversaries (1976),


Illustration 8: Film still 3, VALIE EXPORT, Invisible Adversaries (1976),


Illustration 9: Installation view, Steina Vasulka, ALLVISION (1976)

Illustration 10: Installation view, Steina Vasulka, Machine Vision (1978)

Illustration 11: Film still 1, Park Chan-wook, I’m a Cyborg, But

           That’s OK (2008)

Illustration 12: Film still 2, Park Chan-wook, I’m a Cyborg, But

           That’s OK (2008)

Illustration 13: Film still 3, Park Chan-wook, I’m a Cyborg, But

           That’s OK (2008)

Illustration 14: Video still, Gudrun Bielz, “Antificial” Obsessive

           Compulsive Intelligence: Intergalactic Intelligence (2010)

Illustration 15: Video still 1, Gudrun Bielz, AI Bots Confess (2005)

Illustration 16: AI Bots Confess: I am OC, Conversation between

Gudrun Bielz and Dante bot (2005), screenshot

Illustration 17: Video still 2, Gudrun Bielz, AI Bots Confess (2005)

Illustration 18: Video still 3, Gudrun Bielz, AI Bots Confess (2005)

Illustration 19: Video still, Gudrun Bielz, Obsessive-Compulsive Arctificial

            Fish Life: A Sub-species of OCAL (2009)

Illustration 20: Video still, Gudrun Bielz, Microscopic Gold (2008)

Illustration 21: Cynthya Breazeal, Kismet (2000), MIT, robotic head, photo

Illustration 22: Video still, Gudrun Bielz, An Obsessive Rose is an Obsessive

            Rose: Artificial Roses without Thorns (2010)

Illustration 23: Video still, Gudrun Bielz, Nail of a Person with OCD:

            Artificial Nail of an OC Intelligence Unit (2010)

Illustration 24: Video still, Gudrun Bielz, All the Unhappiness about this OCD

            Chip Arctic-sim City Stuff: AI Chip Conquering the Universe (2010)

Illustration 25: Video still, Gudrun Bielz, This Looks like OCAL: Collective

            Consciousness (2010)

Illustration 26: Video still, Gudrun Bielz, HAIR: Hair of a Person with

            OCD (2010)

Illustration 27: Video still, Gudrun Bielz, Rose and Ant: The Unified

            Video (2010)

Illustration 28: Video still, Gudrun Bielz, VALIE EXPORT Advertises

            Arctificialism (2015)

Illustration 29: Video still, Gudrun Bielz, VALIE EXPORT Applies

            Arctificialism (2015)