Sahej Rahal

Sahej Rahal, ANTRAAL, 2019, excerpt, HD video, 1:58 min

ANTRAAL

ANTRAAL is a performance enacted collaboratively, with non-human actors that live in simulated biomes created using video game software. In the first biome, strange limbed creatures roam virtual landscapes, driven by multiple Artificial intelligence programs that work in counterintuitively to each other. These counters intuitive artificial ‘minds’ produce chaotic behaviour patterns that manifest themselves in the multi-legged beings as bellowing drone sounds, that change pitch, scale, note and tempo based on their ‘mood’. In the second biome, an AI driven horned biped learns to listen, by picking up audio input through a microphone.

The audio cues generate chaotic interruptions in the behaviour and movement of the biped, causing it to jitter, leap, and somersault, as it wanders about its digital terrarium. These biomes can be thought of as quasi sentient musical instruments, that are capable of both producing and responding to sound. Taking this forward, Antraal sets out to concoct an absurd musical act between these simulated worlds and our own.

Bring some noise. ANTRAAL is a performance enacted collaboratively, with non-human actors that live in simulated biomes created using video game software.

Sahej Rahal, ANTRAAL, 2019, audio reactive AI simulation
Game and/or single channel installation available
Edition of 3 + 2 APs

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Sahej Rahal, FINALFOREST.EXE, 2021, excerpt, HD video, 7:22 min

FINAL FOREST

Finalforest.exe orchestrates a playground of Inhuman entities by expanding upon Iranian philosopher Reza Negarestani’s conceptualization of artificial general intelligence. In his essay, "The Labour of the Inhuman" ( e-flux, 2014), he repurposes AGI as a mode of reconfiguring the limits of human cognition.

It relocates reason as alien vector within humanism. It does so by framing the capacity for reason asan abstract protocol that is not intrinsic to human, but functionally implemented by the technolinguistic infrastructure of human culture. One that imagines freedom as an insurrectionary force that has bootstrapped itself out of evolutionary pre-adaptations and reformatted the human species as a suitable processing platform.

finalforest.exe then imagines a possible dialogue with this insurrectionary force of revision.

We find ourselves, perhaps as the last humans, witnessing an unfolding AI simulation. Behind the lens of an AI controlled camera framing the action, we follow a strange limbed creature wandering within a virtual biome, a tropical forest made of digitally scanned of flora.

This being is not driven by a single brain but a collection of multiple AI scripts that are attached to the virtual bones within its calcified petroleum body and act as ‘proto-minds’ that calculate, infer, and collectively recalibrate the movements of the creature.

Each script/mind is capable of ‘listening’ to the physical world outside the program as well, by picking up audio cues through the computer’s microphone.

As a result, within the body of this petro-being, the hierarchy of mind, limb and ear has collapsed, making them indistinguishable from each other in a complete a recalibration of human senses. Furthermore, this audio feedback interrupts the movement of the wandering creature, leading it to perform strange emergent behavior that hasn’t been programmed.

Each run of the simulation is distinct. In some instances; when audio inputs of a certain intensity are registered, it emits a burst of molten black petro-forms, while at other times, bowing and kneeling, hopping on one leg and on rare occasions, diving below the bounds of the virtual world. All of these emerge entirely out of this chaotic feedback loop between sound and script.

The simulation chooses how it responds to external sounds, as if driven by an inhuman will, that is entirely alien to the confines of its code. If allowed to run ad infinitum, finalforest.exe would persist well beyond the final whispers of humankind, performing a theatre of thought, between the porous boundaries of real & virtual worlds. These porous boundaries are the playground of the Inhuman, inhabited by a congress of minds, uncoupled from the weight of history. They greet us, waiting to hear our songs.
So, I ask you my friend, how shall you sing to the future?

Sahej Rahal, FINALFOREST.EXE, 2021, audio reactive AI simulation game, edition of 3 + 2 APs
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The work was produced with the friendly support of Akademie der Künste & E.ON foundation / Human-Machine fellowship by the JUNGE AKADEMIE & VISIT

Sahej Rahal, MYTHMACHINE, 2022, excerpt, HD video, 7:22 min

MYTHMACHINE

In a world increasingly populated by non-human forms of intelligences that take the shape of the microbial, the technological and the spectral, a strange contraption has emerged. While descriptions fail to definitively articulate its arrival, or even its precise use, early rumours have named it the Mythmachine.

To compound its strange emergence, material descriptions of the contraption have been just as perplexing, ranging wildly from a haunted cave, an alien zoo, an escape pod for space-faring civilizations, a post-human ritual site, a playground for sentient artificial intelligence programs, an ark, and even a simulation within a simulation. The worlds contained within the Mythmachine are populated by Ai driven beings, capable of responding to audio feedback. These creatures are not moved by a single brain, but a congregation of multiple AI scripts that are attached to the virtual bones within their bodies.

Each of these scripts is capable of ‘listening’ to sounds from the physical world, picking up audio cues through the computer’s microphone. This audio feedback interrupts the motion produced by the scripts inside the programs, changing the way in which they interact correspondingly to the world outside. Furthermore, each of the tentacled mind-limbs of the creatures, carries an array of recorded notes of a raag sung by Niyati Upadhya. As each tentacle lands upon the terrain, a part of the song emanates, and when two or more limbs land simultaneously, they begin to create harmonies.As a result, the separation between mind, limb, mouth and ear in these creatures is enmeshed and indistinguishable from each other, in a complete recalibration of the human senses. This enmeshment further creates of consortium of ungoverned organs, that collectively choreographthe creatures to life, on virtual playgrounds of contingency, chaos, luck and chance.

The audio interactive elements of Mythmachine, are designed to create a world that transforms in response to sound. Viewers become collaborators within the installation, where they collectively rehearse cohabitations between human and non-human systems of thought and being, by creating music across the porous boundaries of mind, machine, myth and memory.

Sahej Rahal, MYTHMACHINE. 2022, audio reactive AI simulation. Voiced by Niyati Upadhya
Game and/or 3 channel installation available
Edition of 3 + 2 APs
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ABOUT SAHEJ RAHAL

The artist Sahej Rahal is a storyteller who weaves together fact and fiction to create counter-mythologies that interrogate narratives shaping the present. Rahal’s myth world takes the shape of sculptures, performances, films, paintings, installations, video games, and AI programs, that he creates by drawing upon sources ranging from local legends to science fiction, rendering scenarios where indeterminate beings emerge from the cracks in our civilization. 

Rahal’s participation in group and solo exhibitions includes the Biennial of Moving Images 2024 at Centre d' Art Contemporain in Geneva , WORLDBUILDING, GAMING AND ART IN THE DIGITAL AGE at Julia Stoschek Foundation, Octobre Numerique 2023 , RADICAL GAMING at HEK Basel 2021, the Gwangju Biennale, the Liverpool Biennial, the Kochi Biennale, the Vancouver Biennale, MACRO Museum Rome, Kadist SF, ACCA Melbourne and CCA Glasgow. 

He is the recipient of the Cove Park/Henry Moore Fellowship, Akademie Schloss Solitude Fellowship, the Sher-Gil Sundaram Arts Foundation Installation Art Grant, the Digital Earth Fellowship, the first Human-Machine Fellowship organized by Junge Akademie ADK, and the Eyebeam Democracy Machine Fellowship 2024.