Carla Gannis is an interdisciplinary artist based in Brooklyn, New York. She produces works that consider the uncanny complications between grounded and virtual reality, nature and artifice, science and science fiction in contemporary culture. Fascinated by digital semiotics, Gannis takes a horror vacui approach to her artistic practice, culling inspiration from networked communication, art and literary history, emerging technologies and speculative design.
Gannis’s work has appeared in exhibitions, screenings and internet projects across the globe. Recent projects include “Portraits in Landscape,” Midnight Moment, Times Square Arts, NY and “Sunrise/Sunset,” Whitney Museum of American Art, Artport. A regular lecturer on digital art and extended reality, in March 2019 Gannis was a speaker at the SXSW Interactive Festival on the panel “Human Presence and Humor Make Us Better Storytellers.” Publications who have featured Gannis’s work include The Creators Project, Wired, FastCo, Hyperallergic, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, El PaÍs and The LA Times, among others. In 2015 her speculative fiction was included in DEVOURING THE GREEN:: fear of a human planet: a cyborg / eco poetry anthology, published by Jaded Ibis Press.
Gannis holds a BFA and MFA in Painting from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and Boston University, respectively. Currently, she is Industry Professor at New York University (NYU) in the Integrated Digital Media Program, Department of Technology, Culture and Society, Tandon School of Engineering. She is also a Year 7 Member of NEW INC, in the XR: Bodies in Space track, New York, NY.
Title: Teaching an Artificially Intelligent Avatar How to Say I Love you in VR: Wings of Desire
In collaboration with my avatar C.A.R.L.A. G.A.N. (Crossplatform Avatar for Recursive Life Action Generative Adversarial Network) I have been mining the philosophical and emotional depths of Sci-fi tropes and Magic Realist allegories. “Wings of Desire” from the TAAIAHTSILYIVR (Teaching an Artificially Intelligent Avatar How to Say I Love you in VR) project represents our cross reality homage to the 1987 magic realist/romantic fantasy film Wings of Desire, directed by Wim Wenders. It is a story about a virtual angel and a physical human finding connection across the realities that divide them. Loneliness, hope, love and passion are pervasive themes running throughout the film. In our performance video, set to Frédéric Chopin’s Nocturne, Op. 9 (1832), C.A.R.L.A. swings on a trapeze while I wear a headset, breathing deeply in and out, as I immerse into the virtual reality that C.A.R.L.A. natively inhabits.