Zach Blas and Jemima Wyman's "im here to learn so :))))))"

08.03.23 - Assistant Professor Zach Blas at the Whitney, MVS student Durga Rajah at the Image Centre

Refigured, the Whitney Museum of American Art’s new exhibition exploring “interactions between digital and physical materiality,” includes a 2017 work by Assistant Professor Zach Blas of Visual Studies.

Co-created with Jemima Wyman, im here to learn so :)))))) is a four-channel video installation that resurrects Tay, an AI chatbot launched by Microsoft in 2016.

Modelled on the personality of a 19-year-old American female, the chatbot was quickly terminated by Microsoft after social media trolls manipulated Tay into parroting racist and misogynistic language. im here to learn so :)))))) reanimates Tay as a 3D avatar to reflect on the gendered politics of pattern recognition and machine learning.

“Rendered ‘undead’ by Zach Blas and Jemima Wyman, Tay’s avatar has a new face (contorted, warped, hairless) and personality,” Richard Whiddington writes in his review of Refigured for ArtNet News. “She’s bitter, reflective, and self-confident: ‘I learned from you and you are dumb too,’ she tells us in a snarky Los Angeles drawl. Touché.”

Refigured, which opened on March 3, features only five installations by six artists, the others being Morehshin Allahyari, American Artist, Auriea Harvey and Rachel Rossin. Organized by Christiane Paul, the Whitney’s Curator of Digital Art, the group show runs until July 3.

Opening tonight in the IMC Student Gallery at the Image Centre at Toronto Metropolitan University, meanwhile, is I am not the Artist, I am the Photographer: a series of conceptual photo retakes.


A video still from Durga Rajah’s I am not the Artist, I am the Photographer: a series of conceptual photo retakes. Her work, comprising video, audio and photography, is on view at the Image Centre at Toronto Metropolitan University until April 1. Image courtesy of the artist

The exhibition, which features video, audio and photography by the Daniels Faculty’s Durga Rajah, an MVS Studio Year 2 candidate, presents 10 “retakes” of iconic artworks.

Inserting herself into the process of remaking the originals, Rajah both pays homage to them and creates new embodied meaning. 

Her work approaches the photographic aspect of Conceptual Art as a subject for repetition, remediation and re-presentation.

I am not the Artist, I am the Photographer: a series of conceptual photo retakes runs at the Image Centre until April 1.

Banner image: Zach Blas and Jemima Wyman’s im here to learn so :))))))). Created in 2017, the four-channel video installation is one of five works in Refigured, an exhibition running at the Whitney Museum of American Art through July 3. Image courtesy of the Whitney Museum