WHAT THE F*CK, ART ABOUT DRUGS AND AI!?
From 7 - 10 September 2023 the twentieth (!) edition of art & technology festival GOGBOT will take place in the center of Enschede, the Netherlands. This year's urgent - and controversial - theme is FEED YOUR HEAD - DRUGS & AI.
There is an expansive - mostly free - program with a scientific symposium ("Yeah, Mr. White, yeah science!"), exhibitions, art in the public realm, performances, and a banging music program with live performances and afterparties.
The main thematic xpo, titled Feed Your Head, takes place in the Grote Kerk in the center of Enschede. Here artists of international renown will share their vision on the uneasy tension between drugs and technolohy (with artificial intelligence as its newest outgrowth) in our society. The theme of GOGBOT 2023 is further academically contextualized by the GOGBOT Symposium, where keynote speakers shine their light on the world of drugs, from biotec party pills to drugs legalization, to the healing power of psychedelics and the shady world of Big Pharma.
About the theme
FEED YOUR HEAD (a nod to the psychedelic masterpiece White Rabbit (1967) by Jefferson Airplane) advocates discussing a controversial and urgent theme: drugs. The War on Drugs continues to claim many innocent victims worldwide. This exhibition sheds light on its context: the close relationship between big tech, pharmaceutical companies, neoliberal states and networks for (il)legal drug trafficking. Drugs are a double-edged sword; divide and conquer instrument of those in power, and tool for escape by deciding yourself what to surrender to. The production of biocodes or subjectivity should not be led by money and power, but by experience experts and scientists. We think.
We live in a world where systems don’t always do what they were once intended to do. AI - with ChatGTP as the latest addition - is such a system. DIY “programming” by means of drug use in opposition to Big Tech, which is increasingly focused on control and extraction. The tension between technology and drugs - hard tech versus soft tech - is ambivalent and paradoxical. Do they offer redemption or imprisonment, are they a remedy or poison? Do they lead to creativity or madness? Or both?
FEED YOUR HEAD contrasts two force fields. With Big Tech controlling our thinking, Big Pharma tweaking our hormones, and porn directing our desires, people are increasingly turning to drugs as a form of resistance. They no longer want to be guinea pigs in someone else’s laboratory. Better to experiment on themselves. The Poppi Drugs Museum conducts research into user experiences. Who knows, we might succeed in legalising ecstasy (MDMA is legal in Australia).
FEED YOUR HEAD shows the relationship between capitalism, technology and the War on Drugs. In the theatrical installation Happiness by Dries Verhoeven an ‘android’ robot objectively determines the effects of various types of drugs. The work raises the question: why coffee, painkillers or anti-depressants, and not cannabis, psilocybin or XTC? HFT The Gardener by Suzanne Treister and All the Beauty and the Bloodshed by Laura Poitras, with Nan Goldin indicting the Sachler family for the murder of hundreds of Oxycontin addicts, are other examples. So don’t forget the confessional booths!
FEED YOUR HEAD makes the many sides of ‘control’ experienceable with robot & art & sound installations. Invisible vectors through which power is exercised hold us in its grip. But people are also unpredictable and resilient. They use those same tools for the opposite. Techno trance festivals, subversive games, using drugs for trauma processing, metaprogramming or spiritual healings: they ‘hack’ existing systems and release its sparks. No matter how limited we are, the energy from our ‘innerverse’ is untamable.