Shandaken Projects, Bard Community Arts Collective, and The Center for Civic Engagement at Bard are pleased to announce a new billboard by James Wise, on view from December 20 through January 20, 2024 at 3391 US-9 (southbound side, facing north, directly across from the US-9 entrance to Hannaford), on the outskirts of Hudson, NY.
Entitled How Long Will We Be Driving, this artwork was created by layering more than 50 AI-generated images to create an uncanny pastiche that looks like, from the vantage of a moving car, a typical insurance advertisement.
A closer study reveals that the bizarre image includes only its titular question, with other text-like elements distorted and nonsensical. The billboard calls attention to challenging issues related to emerging technologies and the future of our planet, such as the loss of human autonomy as a result of increased reliance on AI (including through self-driving cars) and combustion engines hastening the climate crisis.
The figure at the center of the ad, an avatar created by artificial intelligence to represent "an insurance salesman" shows another troubling facet of algorithmic technology. Workers in the field of AI development are predominately white and male, and their tools often reproduce inherent bias. Wise's work prompts questions about what an AI-driven future might literally look like.
How Long Will We Be Driving is presented by Shandaken Projects in partnership with Bard Community Arts Collective and The Center for Civic Engagement at Bard. James Wise is a current undergraduate at Bard College—this work was selected from a pool of student projects developed in an Extended Media course taught by Julia Weist. The course explored the presentation of art in an expanded field of engagement, including in the public realm. In addition to creating their own billboard proposals with guidance from Shandaken Projects staff, students also met with the Village of Red Hook Board of Trustees and the Village's Chair for the Public Spaces Initiative, Ash Bradley-Rickard, in advance of installing 3-dimensional artworks in Richard Abraham’s Memorial Park. This is the first student work ever presented through 14x48, which typically exhibits works by professional artists.
Julia Weist has been a Visiting Artist-in-Residence at Bard since 2022. Her work is in the permanent collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Guggenheim Museum, Brooklyn Museum and Los Angeles County Museum of Art, as well as the Museum of Modern Art and Art Institution of Chicago where it has also recently been exhibited. She is the recipient of a major public artwork commission from the city of New York in 2019 and has presented two billboard-based artworks; the most recent debuted in Times Square in 2022.
Shandaken's ongoing 14x48 programming is supported by The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts and the New York State Council on the Arts.