SCI-(NO)-FI is a performance engaging with future imageries from and of China in order to reassess our relation to technology today.
The title of the performance can be read in different ways: as Science Fiction, as Science Non-Fiction, and last but not least as Sino-Fiction, a specifically Chinese understanding of the system and society in the digital age, for China’s rapid rise to global superpower is also happening technologically. The Cold War is over, as is the time when the Soviet Union and the United States played out their rivalry by defining a future in space. Perhaps a new Cold War is brewing, with accelerated machine learning algorithms and data replacing nuclear arsenals. Today, at the bifurcation of our collective digital space, the transition into a new era is quite earthbound—with technologies that affect people’s social lives everyday.
The performance SCI-(NO)-FI is structured into a speculative conference presided over by Qiu Hao, an artificial intelligence news reader released by the Chinese state news agency. Developed through a combination of facial recognition, deep learning, 3D modelling and speech synthesis, Qiu Hao delivers a series of monologues that envision futuristic scenarios for alternative social models that might arise with technological advancement in China. Each scenario is then alternatingly deconstructed in lectures by Chinese designer Aiwen Yin who studies ways to rethink the social contract and find alternative ways of organising family structures, by Finnish game designer Pekko Koskinen who constructs platforms for new social value systems, and by Hong Kong based artist Royce Ng who reflects on the interrelations between new technologies and techno-psychedelic spiritualisms. The audience is lead back-and-forth through the dialogue between these two planes of performance, until their borders blur and they possibly merge into a hybrid world where organic and digital beings coexist.