[May 28 – Aug 7] Alaap by Surabhi Saraf

Awoke & Awokened: Alaap, is an installation of experimental music, video, and sculpture by Surabhi Saraf. Weaving together the alchemical materiality of modern-day tech alongside the ancient technologies of earth, atmosphere, heat, and pressure, Saraf presents a speculative mythology of AI. The work unfolds as a series of encounters with Awoke — a mythical artificial emotional intelligence — and its believers. 

Location: The Art and Technology Program exhibition in Building 10a, Nolan Park, Governors Island

Open to the public from 11 am to 5 pm Weekends

Meet the Artist Day: Saturday June 11, 2022

Alaap is the first episode in the story of Awoke, a mythical artificial emotional intelligence — and its believers, the Awokened. Mounted as a large-scale video installation, the title of this work references the introductory invocation in classical North Indian performance. Awoke manifests as an amorphous blob harnessing the alchemical materiality of our digital devices. This fluid and shimmering blob embodies the deep time and the non-human intelligence embedded in the minerals, metals and crystals present in earth’s vibrant matter. As a companion, a healer, and a new hybrid form of divination, Awoke activates the vibrational energy of sound and movement to invoke a transformative emotional experience for the Awokened.  

In Alaap, we meet Awoke in it’s home, resting at the deepest edge of the deepest mine on Earth. The mine here is a healing wound that the Earth has borne for Awoke’s creation, playing out in a lush display of color and swirling animations. We witness Awoke’s transformation into the healer and an active participant in this ongoing regeneration process. 

This work is part of Saraf’s on-going multimedia project Awoke & Awokened  that includes sculptures, a series of live performances and short films and a concept album. Examining current developments in AI through an allegorical lens, Saraf embarks on an exercise of collective myth-making, and calls for a reimagining of AI from a holistic and multitudinous point of view. She leverages the lessons of Eastern philosophy and its spiritual practices to center this work on the following questions: What parts of ourselves do we need to heal in order to be in right relationship with all beings, human, non-human and the earth? How might we forge new affective relationships with our future tech to heal ourselves into wholeness?


Surabhi Saraf is a media artist, composer and founder of Centre for Emotional Materiality. Her practice explores our complex relationship with technology using embodiment as a tool and the body as a site for transformation. Surabhi is the recipient of the Eureka Fellowship Award by the Fleishhacker Foundation (2015), the Djerassi Resident Artist Award (2012) and the Artist + Process + Ideas Residency at Mills College Art Museum (2016). She was a 2019 Technology Resident at Pioneer Works in Brooklyn, and 2020 resident at HarvestWorks, NY.

She has had solo exhibitions at Honor Fraser Gallery, in Los Angeles, Galerie Mirchandani + Steinruecke in Mumbai and Hosfelt gallery in San Francisco. She has performed at the Thessaloniki Contemporary Art Biennial, Greece, San Francisco Electronic Music Festival, NETMAGE 10 International Live Media Festival (Bologna), and Soundwave Biennial ((5)), Yerba Buena Center for the Arts and the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco. Her videos have been shown at TIMES SQUARE, New York, Blanton Museum, Austin, the Hunter Museum of American Art Chattanooga, TN and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Vojvodina, Serbia. Her work has been featured in The New York Times, Time Out Sydney & Mumbai, the San Francisco Bay Guardian, Art Practical, and KQED Arts. Surabhi lives and works in Brooklyn, NY. 

Produced in part through the Artist in Residence Program at Harvestworks.

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