Jalal Toufic: The Matrix for AI et Al trilogy
June 15 + June 16 – 29, 2023 | FREE
Djavad Mowafaghian Cinema + Lobby Screen Array
SFU Goldcorp Centre for the Arts, 149 W. Hastings St., Vancouver
Join us for screenings of Jalal Toufic's trilogy The Matrix for AI et Al (2018), presented as part of the The New Daydream Imaginary: On the Ethico-Aesthetics of Spontaneous Thought conference.
15 June | 6:30 PM – 9:00 PM | Djavad Mowafaghian Cinema
The Matrix for Realists (aka Reviewing The Matrix in Terms of One Cypher)—A Time-saving, Perception-Taxing Version (138 minutes, 2018)
The screening will be preceded with introductory remarks by the artist.
June 16 – 29 | Monday – Friday, 8:00 AM – 7:30 PM + Saturday, 12:00 PM – 5:00 PM | Lobby Screen Array
The Matrix for Realists (aka Reviewing The Matrix in Terms of One Cypher) (50 hours and 48 minutes, 2018)
The Matrix for Radical Simulationists (aka How to Read The Matrix as a Cypher) (72 hours and 36 minutes, 2018)
About the work
The images we see of the vast simulation dubbed the Matrix in Lana and Lilly Wachowski’s The Matrix (1999), at least those that are not the subjective views of the humans in the simulation, are illustrative images and sounds provided to the film’s spectators by its two directors. In my version of The Matrix, what happens in the Matrix is provided in Unicode (Universal Coded Character Set)—on the right side of the screen for images, and on the left side of the screen for sounds. At various periods in history, books were written and paintings were made not only for kings and princes but also for gods, demons, angels, God, etc. The narrator of the fourth of Rilke’s Duino Elegies asserts: “I won’t endure these half-filled human masks; / better, the puppet. It at least is full. / I’ll put up with the stuffed skin, the wire, the face / that is nothing but appearance. Here. I’m waiting. / Even if the lights go out; even if someone / tells me ‘That’s all’; even if emptiness / floats toward me in a gray draft from the stage; / even if not one of my silent ancestors / stays seated with me, not one woman.… / … Am I not right / to feel as if I must stay seated, must / wait before the puppet stage, or, rather, / gaze at it so intensely that at last, / to balance my gaze, an angel has to come and / make the stuffed skins startle into life. / Angel and puppet: a real play, finally”; his waiting and intense gaze is addressed not to a human but to an angel, who would startle the puppet into life, and the play is addressed, through his waiting and intense gaze, not only to humans but also to an angel. While The Matrix for Realists (aka Reviewing The Matrix in Terms of One Cypher)—A Timesaving, Perception-Taxing Version, the component of my film trilogy The Matrix for AI et Al. (2018), where the Unicode sections are speeded so they take only as much time as the images they supplant, is still addressed mostly to humans, especially those who, like The Matrix’s Cypher, are trained to read computer codes, the two versions that last 50 hours and 72 hours, The Matrix for Realists (aka Reviewing The Matrix in Terms of One Cypher) and The Matrix for Radical Simulationists (aka How to Read The Matrix as a Cypher), respectively, are addressed mainly to machines endowed with artificial general intelligence, who would be able to read the code of the film and “see” images (since Unicode is a machine language, a machine would be able to go back from the code in my version to the images and sounds of the original The Matrix film). Nonetheless, might a human who would watch the 72-hour and 50-hour films in their entirety achieve enlightenment?[i] If not, might he or she, notwithstanding not having been trained to read the computer code, begin after forty or sixty or seventy hours to recognize patterns in the scrolling Unicode, then perceive fleeting images, then see whole audiovisual scenes (as Cypher, who follows what happens inside the Matrix, a simulation, by looking at the code on his computer monitors, tells Neo: “There’s way too much information to decode the Matrix. You get used to it, though. Your brain does the translating. I don’t even see the code. All I see is blonde, brunette, and redhead”)? Given that he did not understand the machine language though, he could not dispel the suspicion that these scenes were hallucinations that veiled the scrolling Unicode rather than the images and sounds coded by it.
[i] It would most likely take more than that: Bodhidharma (3rd–4th c. CE), to whom “Chinese Ch’an and Japanese Zen masters trace their master-disciple lineages” (Damien Keown, A Dictionary of Buddhism [Oxford University Press, 2003], 37) is said to have “sat in meditation for nine years while facing a wall (mianbi), in so-called ‘wall contemplation’ (biguan)” (Robert E. Buswell Jr. and Donald S. Lopez Jr., The Princeton Dictionary of Buddhism [Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2014], 132).