A Conversation With The Sun (Installation) – S.E.A. Focus

A Conversation With The Sun (Installation)

Apichatpong Weerasethakul

Medium: 2-channel video randomly projected, 3-channel sound on 7 speakers (looped), motorized fabric, Edition of 5 + 2 APs

Size of work: Dimensions variable

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Artist Statement

A Conversation with the Sun is an interdisciplinary project, in collaboration with DuckUnit and Pat Pataranutaporn, that manifests Weerasethakul’s long-standing interests in moving images, theatricality, performance, technology and their coalescence.

Interrogating the possibilities of an existence without his memories, A Conversation with the Sun draws on selected self-documented footage over several years – the means in which the artist has chosen to record his life since he embarked on filmmaking. Existing as a personal memory archive, these images together with published conversations between the artist and Artificial Intelligence (AI) generated cognitive specters of individuals and entities such as Jiddu Krishnamurti, Salvador Dali, the Sun, and others.

These conversations, generated through GPT-3 – an AI platform that can be used to build conversations – were developed in collaboration with Pat Pataranutaporn, a technologist and a researcher at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who explores the intersection of synthetic virtual humans and synthetic biology. Sparked by Weerasethakul’s contemplations of the Sun as he embarked on long walks amidst nature, the artist has pushed and guided the AI to generate increasingly coherent and interesting conversations to manifest new fictions.

The artist’s established motif of the fabric-curtain-backdrop present in his past projects such as Fever Room (2015, theatrical version), Blue (2018), and Constellations (2018), makes a re-incarnation in this new project. Animated and mechanized in collaboration with DuckUnit, the material’s employment – simultaneously corporeal and apparitional – alludes to its multifarious functions in both cinema and theater. Be it establishing context as a backdrop or shielding content as a curtain, its movements now parallel performance and a reminder of the fantastical memories of the supernatural that the material embodies.

A Conversation with the Sun is a project that offers up the auteur’s introspections, as opposed to his prior reflections of the sociocultural milieu. Akin to the Sun’s position as a life-sustaining force of nature, the light from the projector is recognized by Weerasethakul as the filmmaker’s Sun. And just as how the light from the Sun illuminates, the light from the projector casts those memories that have been captured.

About the Artist

Apichatpong Weerasethakul grew up in Khon Kaen in north-eastern Thailand. He began making films and video shorts in 1994 and completed his first feature in 2000. He has also mounted exhibitions and installations in many countries since 1998.

Apichatpong is recognised as a major international filmmaker and visual artist. His works are characterised by their use of non-linear storytelling, often dealing with themes of memory, loss, identity, desire, and history. His works have won him widespread international recognition and numerous awards, including the Cannes Jury Prize in 2021 for Memoria, his first film shot outside of Thailand featuring Tilda Swinton.