Smart Object — Experimenta

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Brad Darkson
Smart Object

Kaurna Land
SA, Australia


“Why do we strive to create a sentient form of Artificial Intelligence, or to find sentient life elsewhere in the universe?…The quest for sentience has become a distraction from the urgent need for us all to form kinship with Country and the objects of our creation, to reconnect with the spirit of Country and culture that already exists.”

–Brad Darkson, 2020.

Smart Object is a multi-media installation that questions humanities obsessive pursuit of technology, in particular the ambition to create an Artificial General Intelligence – a machine as smart as a human and potentially self evolving and sentient.

The artwork reveals two simultaneous processes; a wooden plongi (club) hand-carved by the artist with guidance from Allan Sumner and Ngarrindjeri Elder Uncle Moogy, and a looped 3D animation of the artist’s avatar performing the carving process, generated from sophisticated motion capture technologies under the guidance of creative digital technologists. The dialogue between the physical and digital components of Smart Object explore notions of time, cultural knowledge transfer, and the innate spirit or life force of and within all things.

Darkson critiques humanity’s reliance on the digital that serves to sever our spiritual connection to Country and encourages us to reconnect with the sentient Country we are all a part of, in the real world.

“Uncle tells me that everything has a spirit because everything came from the Earth, just as we did. I sit down outside in front of a stump, the sun on my face, and as I slowly chip away at the block I think about how different it feels to staring at a computer.” Brad Darkson, 2020.


Brad Darkson acknowledges the support from: Aboriginal Contemporary Arts (ACA Studios), Aldinga SA; Flinders University Motion Capture Studio; Hackerspace Adelaide; Cake Industries;

The Artist
Brad Darkson

Brad Darkson is a South Australian visual artist currently working across various media including carving, sound, sculpture, multimedia installation, and painting. Darkson's practice is regularly focused on site specific works.