Sahej Rahal, Bashinda, 2020, AI Simulation. Courtesy: The Artist and Chatterjee & Lal

The Machinery of Myth

Online Panel

The complex relationship between human and machine has been the subject of art and artistic practice since the beginning of the Industrial Age. In the face of digitalisation, the topic has taken on new meaning worldwide with artificial intelligence, its possibilities and dark sides. By discussing concepts, playing out scenarios and speculating on futures, the arts can generate a specific aesthetic knowledge in this area.

With theoretical and artistic inputs and discussion, the online panel titled “The Machinery of Myth” aims to discuss new approaches to the human-machine relationship connecting various disciplines such as technology, religion, philosophy and science. Old and contemporary mythological narratives, rituals of shamanism and theories of the non-human are starting points for the exchange on artistic strategies and practices of world and resistance-building.

The panel is the first in a series of online and offline events as part of the “Human-Machine” programme by the JUNGE AKADEMIE in cooperation with the VISIT programme by the E.ON foundation, inviting artists, scientists, curators and experts from different fields.



Morehshin Allahyari: (Persian: موره شین اللهیاری‎) is an Iranian-Kurdish media artist, activist, and writer based in Brooklyn, New York who uses computer modeling, 3D scanning, and digital fabrication to explore the intersection of art and activism. Inspired by concepts of collective archiving and cultural contradiction, Allahyari’s 3D-printed sculptures and videos challenge social and gender norms, responding to, resisting, and criticizing the current political and cultural situation.

Sahej Rahal: is a visual artist based in Mumbai/India and the first fellow of the “Human-Machine”-programme by the YOUNG ACADEMY. He is primarily a storyteller and weaves together fact and fiction to create counter-mythologies, which interrogate narratives that shape the present. This myth-world takes the shape of sculptures, performances, films, paintings, installations, and AI programs, which he creates by drawing on sources ranging from local legends to science fiction. By bringing these into dialogue with each other, Rahal creates scenarios where indeterminate beings emerge from the cracks in our civilization. Rahal has participated in group and solo exhibitions worldwide.

Nishant Shah: is Director of Research & Outreach and Professor of Aesthetics and Culture of Technologies, at ArtEZ University of the Arts, The Netherlands. Knowledge Partner for the global art-technology Digital Earth Fellowship. Faculty Associate 2020-01 at the Berkman Klein Centre for Internet & Society, Harvard University. Mentor on the Feminist Internet Research Network. His work is at the intersections of body, identity, digital technologies, artistic practice, and activism, with a specific focus on non-canonical geographies. His current interest is in thinking through questions of artificial intelligence, digital subjectivity, and misinformation towards building inclusive, diverse, resilient, and equitable societies. His new book “Really Fake” is out in Spring 2021 with University of Minnesota Press.

In his “Citizen Strange” project, Indian artist Sahej Rahal, a fellow of the “Human Machine” programme by the JUNGE AKADEMIE, interweaves artificial intelligence with shamanic creatures and questions the mythological narrative of Hindu nationalism. Short inputs and discussion with Morehshin Allahyari, Nishant Shah and Sahej Rahal. In English.