|Period||2009 — 2010|
|Medium||ELIZA +custom software, speakers|
Avolition is a sound installation consisting of two computers “speaking” to each other. Both run a custom software derived from ELIZA – a primitive natural language processing software developed in the late 1960s. In the fields of computer science and linguistics, natural language processing (NLP) is concerned with the interactions between computers and human (natural) language. One of the goals of NLP has been to make computers as intelligent as people. Historically, ELIZA was one of the first pieces of software to successfully simulate human-like responses from a computer. It is an interactive program which requires user’s text input. Its response is based on logical syntax calculations done with the text inputted, attempting to demonstrate back to the user its ‘understanding’ of the theme of the conversation. It demonstrates this understanding by responding with a question, closely resembling one that a psychoanalyst would ask. This method develops a ‘mirror style’ conversation in which ELIZA encourages the user to do essentially all the talking – exposing and concurrently analysing their own personal problems. This process is an efficient way of disguising ELIZA’s true artificial nature for longer.
The setup is quite different in Avolition: there is no human (text) input – as one ELIZA interacts with another ELIZA directly. The listener eavesdrops on a strange conversation between the two programs as they try to investigate each other’s “problems”. They are constantly generating a new response and the dialogue is endless.
The audio that you hear is a live recording of the sound installation done in Cabot Square in Canary Wharf, London in 2010.