Christina Sharpe's In the Wake: On Blackness and Being (2016) asks, "[w]hat kinds of possibilities for rupture might be opened up[,]” she implores us to take seriously the possibility of Black extinction and anti-blackness as the ground on which we stand. Extinction Event is an answer to Sharpe's call, a work of protest against Black death caused by police brutality. It makes a critique of the ways in which the American progressive linear temporality and oppressive technological infrastructures collaboratively permit the proliferation of Black death. In this project, we accelerate both progressive temporality and technological positivism, and as such attempt to exhaust all possible iterations of police-related Black deaths, thus annihilating unjust Black death altogether.
The Extinction Event system generates images of violence against Black bodies by law enforcement based on preexisting cell phone, dashboard, and body camera footage utilizing a Generative Adversarial Network (GAN). The images are presented to an Image Recognition System (IRS) and its output drives a Generative Pre-trained Transformer 2 (GPT-2) model trained on the corpus of Black philosophers, psychologists, and critical race theorists such as Frantz Fanon, Octavia Butler, and James Baldwin.
Extinction Event represents both the collapse of all Black death and the failure of the machine to process and render Black death. The cadre of images generated through this project digitally memorializes the Black people we’ve lost to police brutality across time and space and illustrates the sheer infinite monument of Black death that sustains the dream of white supremacy. Though this project actively conjures Black death with the aim of eliminating it (via negation), it also leads us toward a horizon beyond a world saturated with Black death. Can we imagine a year in which no Black person is slain by police? What then?
Extinction Event system map, 2021
Black Box, 2022 - Charded Wood, Acrylic, Mac Mini, Fog Machine 24"x24"x24" [photo by Marcel Moos]