What might performances of the seemingly impossible demonstrate about the capabilities and limitations of both artificial intelligence and the human mind? Artist and magician Jeanette Andrews will join us for a guest talk about her background and most recent work Taken by Artificial Surprise — a performance and installation series that explores the relationships between magic, machine learning, and surprise. Jeanette Andrews draws upon historic parlor magic to examine hierarchies of surprise as seen in both human-made and the algorithmically generated magic effects that she has devised ways to perform in reality. At the end of the talk, Andrews will showcase a performance that invites attendees to think about whether surprise is a unique, defining factor of human consciousness.
Jeanette Andrews is an artist, magician and speaker. Andrews’ work focuses on the development of interactive magic and sensory illusions via performance, sculpture, installation and audio. Over 28 years of specialized study and technical training in parlor and sleight of hand magic has now afforded her a distinct perspective on crafting experiences with nuanced psychological underpinnings, the creation of surreal visuals and designing/building objects that function completely differently than they appear. Her research-based process centers around phenomenological philosophy, contemporary cognitive science, and physics. Her work is rooted in highlighting astonishing aspects of everyday life via moments of the seemingly impossible. Themes of pieces have included invisibility, impossible objects, the relationship between scent and magic, unseen communication, and how illusions can construct reality. Andrews works closely with museums and galleries to recontextualize magic within the cultural arts and explore this craft as a performance art medium. She has presented numerous commissioned works with the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, as well as commissioned work for the Quebec City Biennial. Further site-specific works for numerous museums and galleries include the Elmhurst Art Museum, Birmingham Museum of Art and International Museum of Surgical Science. Andrews is also an acclaimed speaker, presenting with the Cooper Hewitt, Chicago Ideas, corporations, and universities (including Columbia and Harvard Law School’s Petrie Flom Center), and conferences across the country. She has been an artist-in-residence for High Concept Labs in Chicago, The Institute for Art and Olfaction in Los Angeles and CultureLAB LIC in New York City and the University of Houston’s Mitchell Center. Andrews is also an Alumnus Affiliate of metaLab (at) Harvard. Illusion is Andrews’ life’s work and her performances have been praised by the Chicago Tribune, PBS, and the New York Times.