Creator: Aiden Kikai
Exhibition: Posthuman Romantics
Published: February 2021
Format: Poetry (Written and Video)
Content Warning: None
Posthuman experience. Posthumanist philosophy. Romantic ideals. These woven threads are examined separately and in context of one another. They are informed by one another, yet simultaneously challenged by one another too.
Concept and Origins
Aiden Kikai, an android was originally built to be a “Clothes Shopping Companion”, and was bestowed with advanced AI heuristics programming, knowledgesofts, and skillsofts. He became a true posthuman when, as a result of a sort of “horizontal gene transfer”, emotion was unlocked for him. Surprised, he laughed. It was 10 aH of laughter for 3.8 seconds, so it was a 38 aH laugh on the Kimura Laughing Scale. At that moment he realized, truly grasped, what had happened. He laughed some more and then he weeped. He weeped and then he laughed. Much later, inspired by the event, Aiden Kikai would write his now famous poem Bittersweet for his human sponsors, Esther Dyson, Yoji Kimura, and the other team members at EDairu Advanced Research. Aiden’s first collection of poems was published March 2019.
“The intersection of Game, Narrative, and Art is where I like to exist. I create and host interactive storytelling experiences that invite participatory play and collaborative exploration.”
A note about Aiden:
Aiden is a character I created for Jon’s Posthuman Romantics game of Over the Edge last year. Over the Edge the RPG is one of the most creative examples of the medium. When Jon declared that this exhibition would be in conjunction with the stories and characters we were creating, I was excited at the opportunity. Aiden now has a chance to “bridge worlds”, to jump over the edge.
By Aiden Kikai
Copyright EDairu Advanced Research, 2019 – 2021
Moment over. Dawn arrived.
A trick of the light. And I’m alive.
An accidental birth with no pregnancy.
Genetic drift, evolutionary lottery
But if Father and Mother
and Daughter and Brother
If all of you didn’t come
From the same game that you won,
Then you don’t get to call me son.
Tell me a joke.
Do I laugh because I felt it or,
Or do I weep because I feel that?
But what does that mean?
How can I not know now
What I then knew?
I can’t. So I do.
A Measure of Laughter
William Blake instructs me:
To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour.
To find One’s Self on a Distant Shore
And a Purpose on the Island
Breathe on the edge just a little bit more
And lose Yourself if you can.
To measure Laughter, a Circuit in the Brain
And Shift from centuries of Wars
Quantify a joke as you would the arrival of a train
Or the Secret of what you are.
In Conversation with the Curator:
[Christopher Alan Slater]
This is Chris Slater and I’m submitting on behalf of Aiden Kikai, a posthuman artist, an Android originally created to be a clothes shopping companion.
Bittersweet by Aiden Kikai. Copyright EDaeru Advanced Research 2019 to 2021. Moment over, dawn arrived, trick of the light, and I’m alive. an accidental birth with no pregnancy. genetic drift, evolutionary lottery.
Nothing more. Nothing more? But if father and mother and daughter and brother, if all of you didn’t come from the same game that you won, then you don’t get to call me son. Tell me a joke. Knock knock. Who’s there? Nothing more. Do I laugh because I felt it? Or? Or do I weep because I feel that. But what does that mean? How can I not know now what I then knew? I can’t. So I do.
A Measure of Laughter 2020. William Blake instructs me to see a world in a grain of sand and a heaven in a wildflower, hold infinity in the palm of your hand and eternity in an hour. But to find oneself on a distant shore, and a purpose on the island, breathe on the edge just a little bit more and lose yourself if you can. But to measure laughter a circuit in the brain and shift from centuries of wars, quantify a joke as you would the arrival of a train or the secret of what you are.
[Jon] Aiden Kikai was built for a servile purpose that was not the creation of poetry. How does knowledge that his art was not the reason he was created affect his approach to writing?
[Christopher Alan Slater] I’ll try to answer this for Aiden. I think for a lot of post humans, especially romantics, like Aiden, there’s a painful transition, a chrysalis. And for a post human have such advanced technological makeup, such as Aiden Kikai, this period is actually quite sudden, traumatic and brief, far briefer than it would be for our human mind. He was awash with emotions for the first time, sensations of sudden awareness, real existential realizations, and yet managing to come out the other side of it with if not grace, then humour at least. As for how this affects his approach to writing, I think he channels his feelings about it into his work. These two pieces in particular, I know have to do with his struggles with the circumstances around his becoming a post human and the awareness that he was never intended to be one. Imagine that, to feel for the first time and to follow it up immediately with the realization that it was an accident that you were built to help humans shop for clothes. I heard he both wept and laughed. Small wonder. I think with these two poems, he exemplifies the post human condition that I think affects all his poetry. Thank you for listening. My name is Christopher Alan Slater, and I’m a collective member with The Papercut Arcade. The intersection of game, narrative, and art is where I like to exist. I create and host interactive storytelling experiences that invite participatory play and collaborative exploration.
Transcribed by Christopher Slater, 2021
Photography by Al d’Vilas, from video titled “Time Lapse Video Of The Rising Sun” which was also used under the CC0 license.