STONE SPEAKS is a monumental, narrative AR artwork inspired by conversations between artist Nancy Baker Cahill and Sophia the Robot about the accelerating climate crisis, and the adaptive potential of human-machine collaboration. The work was originally geolocated simultaneously over Madinat Jumeirah in Dubai and Miami Beach in Florida to underscore the borderless nature of this crisis, and was accessible via Baker Cahill’s free AR app, 4th Wall.
STONE SPEAKS begins as a massive particle field composed of silicon and carbon elements that contracts into a molten core, and then swells into a vibrant planet. Slowly but perceptibly, the planet’s surface becomes monochromatic, desolate, and polluted. A dense sparkling of silicon and carbon particles reappears, covering the surface of the planet. As they shrink and ebb away, a new lush and healthy surface coats the globe, leaving viewers with a poetics of human-machine collaboration—what might be possible if they worked interdependently toward mutual survival and a robust restoration of the world’s natural ecosystems?
STONE SPEAKS acknowledges the ancient history and language of metallic elements as the DNA of computers, evinced by author James Bridle as being made “from stone, and the compressed relics of animals and plants… computers themselves are one of the words spoken by stones.” Baker Cahill’s work reflects another articulate language of stone: augmented reality, an ephemeral and immersive medium with minimal ecological impact. From the earth, for the earth, STONE SPEAKS re-imagines AI deployed with numerous carbon-based intelligences to creatively address the world’s most daunting climate challenges.