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Sam Lieblich

PHRASER: Main Dream – PHOTO 2022

FUTURES is pleased to present PHRASER: Main Dream, an official exhibition of PHOTO 2022 International Festival of Photography.
PHRASER: Main Dream is the never-ending digital dreamscape of an AI entity that reflects the human algorithm subject as it lives today. It’s online, and it’s in your brain. Three screens display a stream of imagery that somersaults, melts and shimmers. Behind the visual output is a complex and eccentric system, a meta-algorithm, a fusion of rules and connections – elaborate and arcane – designed to reflect the very structure of the human-AI hybrid.
Residing in our darkened gallery, PHRASER will be displayed on three digital monoliths that evoke a hauntological future for 90s computer hardware. It’s complex inner-workings of algorithms and connections were trained by the artist to interact with the internet and respond with text, speech and visuals.
The PHRASER algorithm learned language from a body of text produced in workshops run by the artist. A series of writing exercises combined methods from psychiatry, psychoanalysis and creative writing in order to elicit free associations from workshop participants. Without this kind of training AI tends to expose its inherent biases. The freshly trained algorithm spits out a constant stream of babble but selects the rarest phrases to synthesise a stream of images. Like turning ones insides’ out, the installation of PHRASER reveals the process of this work.
We train algorithms and they train us as we spend more time fused with our digital devices, and as workplaces arrange themselves around algorithmic forms of control. While techno-capitalists believe (or want us to believe) AI will free human beings from their uncomfortable desires, PHRASER posits that AI will simply embody them as they exist now in a ruthless and repetitive automatism.


Intrusive thoughts: the internal monologue of a stressed singularity
A workshop led by Sam Lieblich
Sat 7 May, 4-6pm
Read more and register here. Places are limited.

This workshop will be delivered by the artist in the gallery. Attendees will have the opportunity to engage with the artwork and they will be introduced to the thought of John C. Lilley, Ray Kurzweil, and other outsiders and futurists, whom we will read through the work of Jacques Lacan and Sigmund Freud. After establishing a theoretical grounding we will use state-of-the-art machine learning algorithms, and a set of especially adapted writing exercises, to learn to listen—to ourselves and to the algorithm—so that we might predict what comes next. What will it be like when the internet scrolls us? Get ready to see Siri stress the fuck out!


Sam Lieblich with Karen ann Donnachie and Andy Simionato
Sat 21 May 4-5pm

Join us for an in-conversation between Sam Lieblich and award-winning electronic artist & designer Karen ann Donnachie and her collaborator Andy Simionato to celebrate the closing of the exhibition PHRASER, an AI intervention that seeks to reintroduce sex, desire and politics into utopian fantasies of artificial intelligence. The event will be followed by drinks.