Beth Coleman: Reality Was Whatever Happened. Octavia Butler AI and Other Possible Worlds — MAY 2023

Processing Process

The project and eponymous publication explore methods of “speculative AI,” staking a commitment to the experimental design of machine learning that departs from predictive applications that all too often reproduce the socio-technological status quo (or worse) to move toward a generative aesthetic of other possible worlds. Through the Butler AI project, Beth Coleman creates a series of visual works inspired by the Xenogenesis trilogy of celebrated science fiction author Octavia Butler that describes a near future where humans have environmentally destroyed the earth and the genetic merger with an “alien” race is the only path to survival. In response to questions of human/alien boundaries posed by Butler, Coleman creates a visual world that plays with an aesthetics of drift along the designated lines of human-not-human. As Coleman writes, “this
is a liberation project in all the complexity of such an endeavor, where transrormation is what one becomes.” The publication features an introduction and extended conversation with the author-artist Beth Coleman, critical essays by Mitch McEwen and Michelle Murphy, a poetic intervention by Jerome Ellis as well as a selected images from the project—the Alice series, the BBP landscapes, and the Oceanic series—and additional commentary by an OpenAI on the history of aesthetics, race, science, and temporality.

Beth Coleman: Reality Was Whatever Happened. Octavia Butler AI and Other Possible Worlds — Processing Process. With contributions by Jerome Ellis, Beth Coleman, Michelle Murphy, and Mitch McEwen as well as a conversation between Beth Coleman and Etienne Turpin. Design by K. Verlag with Wolfgang Hückel & Katharina Tauer.



14 x 21 cm

252 pages

Full color images

Softcover with wrap-around poster, open spine, thread sewn

ISBN 978-3-947585-50-7

€ 27


Forthcoming in May 2023 – available for preorder