Can you convince your computer that you’re human? From 1998 to 2014, humans from around the world chatted with MrMind, a chatbot designed by artist Peggy Weil, about being human. The Blurring Test is Weil’s play on the Turing Test, a philosophical measure of machine progress, with this performance marking the 25-year anniversary since MrMind first went online. The Blurring Test interrogates human progress: How do we convince ourselves, and each other, that we are human? These global conversations about the evolving boundary between humans and machines form a chorus of voices proclaiming our sense of self during an era of technological transition.
Varispeed (Gelsey Bell, Brian McCorkle, Paul Pinto, Dave Ruder, Aliza Simons) is well known for the reinterpretations of seldom-performed avant-garde classics such as Ashley’s Perfect Lives, Cage’s Empty Words, and Gaburo’s Maledetto, but this piece marks the first time the group’s five composer-performers have collectively created a piece’s musical materials from the ground up. The Blurring Test is scored for five voices, a range of instruments, and electronics and realized through a variety of styles that draw on contemporary opera, art song, folk song, improvisation, electronic music, and drone music. The range of styles reflects the breadth of MrMind’s conversation.
“punky and profound, showing that innovation has less to do with bottomless budgets than with vision and spirit.” –Time Out New York
A livestream will be available free of charge at 8pm on the day of the performance and archived for future viewing. Watch below or on YouTube.