Nihil ex Nihilo

If you happen to find yourself in Brussels, don’t miss Félix Luque’s exhibition exhibition Nihil ex Nihilo at iMAL Center for Digital Culture and Technology. It’s one of those works that reminds me why i fell in love with new media art a few years ago (as you might have noticed, i do need a reminder once in a while!) It’s smart, visually engaging, mysterious, it spans across different media, builds a compelling narrative and makes you question a technology you’re using on a daily basis.


I discovered the Luque‘s work last year at Laboral in Gijón where he was showing Chapter 1, the Discovery, a geometric object that seemed to have been dropped from a UFO. Nihil ex Nihilo, a science fiction work about a digital entity, continues Félix’ exploration around artificial intelligence and science fiction themes, in particular the nature of intelligence and the fate of intelligent creatures.

Nihil ex Nihilo tells the story of SN W8931CGX66ESN….

W8931CGX66E is one among thousands of millions of others identical machines. Since he was made, he has always followed commands. In a world dominated by botnets, he early became a zombie and has always acted like one. During her work time a corporate secretary, Juliet, commands him. But in the background, in the invisible, he obeys his real master, a cracker, doing all kinds of cyber crime activities.

But then one day due to an electronic alteration, he acquires a certain conscience, a primitive and artificial kind of intelligence. This accidental awaken has originated a big confusion for him, he now wants to liberate others machines from their alienated existence. In this mad adventure, he has decided to use the spam e-mails received by Juliet, and to reply to them in order to spread the word in to the machine’s network. As you can see, he is mad and all confused …
Text by author Jon Bilbao.

The installation at iMAL fleshes out the story of SN W8931CGX66ESN in 3 parts or spaces:

The first room is dark and empty but for a bench and The Monologue, a sound recording where we can listen to the delirious soliloquy of SN W8931CGX66E.

Another room hosts The Transformation, an audiovisual archive that documents the moment that SN W8931CGX66E changed from his original matrix to a semi-neuronal figure.


Finally, the larger room is illuminated by The Dialogue, 8 alphanumeric displays that broadcasts the data flow between the entity and the other computers in the network in real time. At each spam message received and read aloud by a female voice, the e-mail algorithmic generator of SN W8931CGX66E reacts by generating a reply which a male voice reads.


Video Credits: Vincent Evrard

Nihil ex Nihilo is open at iMAL, Brussels, until 10 November 2010.
Previously: Chapter 1, the Discovery.