stones make birds make stones


Created in response to Martha Tuttle’s installation, A stone that thinks of Enceladus, on view at Storm King Art Center (New Windsor, New York) from July 15, 2020, through November 8, 2021, Kite’s video work INYAN/ZINTKALA/INYAN KAGAPI (STONES MAKE BIRDS MAKE STONES) utilizes StyleGAN to create generated photographs of stones trying to reassemble birds. Sounds in the work include recordings of a Hudson River estuary, the river lapping at the feet of a poet, the Taos hum, a Jacob’s Ladder electrical device, the rehearsal of a conch shell sextet, a harp excerpt from a previous work, and the artist’s voice. The voice speaks in the messy verbalizations generated by GPT-2, trained on texts from Storm King Art Center’s landscape information and poetry by Gabriel Kruis in collaboration with Martha Tuttle. 

This video work interrogates ideas of landscape as a reflection of the soul of the settler: non-Indigenous, white America’s inability to rest until it fully owns the land. It cannot rest until achieving indigeneity. This colonial desire—the quest for Indigeneity—is a quest for a new religion and a new mythology. Such stories are formed and re-formed through traumatic, apocalyptic events that defy human comprehension, such as the genocide of millions of humans and nonhumans. The fear of the unknown grows closer and closer in America—a fear that shapeshifts, haunts, and terrorizes—like a being in the dark, or the savage in a darkly forested periphery. Ethical relations with nonhumans—deer, birds, stones, machines, and extra-terrestrials—are possible, but humanity would have to choose to understand nonhumans through ontologies that lead to ethical relationships. Lakota ontologies, mythologies, and cosmologies already include the nonhuman and extra-terrestrial. These understandings are not based in fear of the unknown, but respect for the unknown.

Kite a.k.a. Suzanne Kite is an award-winning Oglála Lakȟóta performance artist, visual artist, composer, and academic raised in Southern California known for her sound and video performance with her Machine Learning hair-braid interface. Kite holds a BFA from CalArts in music composition, an MFA from Bard College’s Milton Avery Graduate School, and is a PhD candidate at Concordia University. Her groundbreaking scholarship and practice explore contemporary Lakota ontology through research creation and performance. She often works in collaboration, especially with family and community members. Her art practice includes developing Machine Learning and compositional systems for body interface movement performances, interactive and static sculpture, immersive video and sound installations, poetry and experimental lectures, experimental video, as well as co-running the experimental electronic imprint, Unheard Records. Working with machine learning techniques since 2017 and developing body interfaces for performance since 2013, Kite is one of the first American Indian artists to utilize Machine Learning in art practice. Kite has been included in publications such as Atlas of Anomalous AI, the American Indian Culture and Research Journal, the Journal of Design and Science (MIT Press), with the award winning article, “Making Kin with Machines.” Kite was a 2019 Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation Scholar, a 2020 Tulsa Artist Fellow, a 2020 Sundance New Frontiers Story Lab Fellow, a 2020 “100 Women in AI Ethics,” a 2021 Common Fields Fellow, and the 2022 Creative Time Open Call artist for the Black and Indigenous Dreaming Workshops with Alisha B. Wormsley.