Free Will Mode is a series of videos in which the artist uses The Sims to place human artificial intelligence into architectural situations which test the constraints of their ability to rethink the environments they’ve been placed in. Despite the absurdity of these built architectural anomalies, they expose a greater cultural phenomenon within people – the extent to which we accept the hand we’ve been dealt (architecturally, politically, socially, economically). When operating in free will mode, the AI in this strategic life simulation game eat when hungry, piss when necessary, sleep when tired, socialize when bored…but they never alter the environment they’ve inherited, even if it kills them. The videos reveal the artificial idiocy built into the AI as well as the cultural biases built into the overall game design as the Sims world rapidly breaks down when operating outside of the buy-nicer-houses-get-better-jobs-and-get-married-and-have-babies model. In this version of the work titled Free Will Mode: Survival Rates in Captivity, Washko created two identical architectural spaces on two machines, with two sets of gender segregated “family units” separated into domestic space and outdoor space and performed by operating cameras on both but otherwise allowing the AI to perform inside the game architecture for her. The experiment took place for a live audience at the VIA Festival in Pittsburgh, PA and has been edited as a two channel video experience commissioned by Arebyte Gallery in London and curator Filippo Lorenzin.
Special thanks to:
Lauren Goshinski, co-director VIA Festival and co-curator of Games Salon
Heather Kelley, co-curator of Games Salon
Filippo Lorenzin, curator of Blinding Pleasures at Arebyte Gallery