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Beth Coleman: Reality Was Whatever Happened
Octavia Butler AI & Other Possible Worlds

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The Centre for Culture and Technology is delighted to host the launch of a new art exhibition and book by Beth Coleman (University of Toronto) that merge Generative AI and the work of Octavia Butler, one of literature's most prolific science fiction authors, to reimagine the status quo set by AI systems. 

Reality Was Whatever Happened: Butler AI and other Possible Worlds is an art exhibition and book inspired by Octavia Butler’s 1980 Xenogenesistrilogy. Coleman has designed an AI system that prompts us to reconsider race (human and alien), cognition and computability.

In light of the recent conversations on AI, bias, and societal harms, Coleman uses a speculative lens to imagine alternative futures. The use of generative modeling, unsupervised learning, and curated data sets escape the regime of classification, framing Coleman’s conversation about contemporary AI-driven artistic practices and ethics in AI.

The exhibition will be on display in the Coach House gallery November 2-4. It will be accompanied by a book, published by award-winning Berlin publisher K Verlag.

About the Artist


Beth Coleman is an artist and researcher who works across locations of text, sound, and visuality, playing with frequencies of a generative aesthetic. Coleman has a history of international exhibitions at venues such as the Whitney Museum of American Art, New Museum of Contemporary Art, Pioneer Works, Centre International des Récollets Paris and Waag Society Amsterdam, among others. Coleman is an Associate Professor at the Institute of Communication, Culture, Information and Technology and Faculty of Information, and a research lead on AI & Society at the Schwartz Reisman Institute for Technology and Society, University of Toronto.


Operating as an interspecies vehicle with which OBAI prompts us to reconsider race, cognition, and computability, Reality Was Whatever Happened attends to the wild edges of contemporary computational culture and politics. Contributors engage with questions of black computing, indigenous AI, relational temporalities, and the hummmm of digital repetition, while Coleman’s conversation about the process and reality of contemporary AI-driven artistic practice frames the broader ethical and aesthetic stakes of OBAI.
This event on November 3 will take place on-site in the Reality Was Whatever Happened exhibition in the Coach House gallery. For more information and to register, please see the Eventbrite page linked below.

Plan your visit


The exhibit will run from November 2 - 4, 2023 and is open to the public during the following days:

  • Thursday November 2, 5:00-7:00PM (Exhibition Opening & Book Launch)

  • Friday November 3, 12:00-6:00PM (Symposium 3:00PM)

  • Saturday November 4, 12:00-6:00PM

The Centre for Culture and Technology is located at 39A Queens Park Crescent East, on the U of T St. George campus, in a parking lot.

Please note the building is not currently accessible and the washroom is located on the second floor with stair access only. There is an accessible washroom 5 minutes away in the Kelly Library. 

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