The appearance of one’s doppelgänger usually presages disaster. Today, a shadow version of oneself exists constantly alongside our flesh-and-bone selves, for the most part concealed under the surface of our smartphones, in the ebb and flow of data behind our screens. These “statistical alter egos,” as de Young contemporary art curator Claudia Schmuckli calls them, are part of the modern condition—at least for anyone who engages with the networked world.
Instead of shying away from this uncomfortable truth, the artists of Uncanny Valley, Schmuckli’s first group exhibition at the de Young, meet these doppelgängers head on, mining and manipulating that data to confront audiences with their digital lives, and the real-world implications of all that information.
Uncanny Valley is billed as the “first major exhibition in the U.S. to explore the relationship between humans and intelligent machines through an artistic lens,” which sounds like it could be a show of unwieldy and intangible technology.