Russell Perkins 




The Future Tense The Future Tense

sound installation, infinite length sound installation, infinite length

Requiem aeternam—the first movement in the Catholic funeral mass—means eternal rest. The requiem is sung to mourn a death, but also to pray for its reversal in an imagined infinite future.

The Future Tense is an application that modifies the first movement of Johannes Ockeghem’s requiem (1420 – 1459), the oldest surviving polyphonic funeral mass. Artificial intelligence assists in extending the work of grieving infinitely, but in such a way that the requiem’s three voices never reach harmonic resolution. Designed for eternal movement, the application both indefinitely forestalls and holds open the requiem’s ideological task.

The application’s movement is guided by the real movements of people. For this purpose, GPS data recorded across the first year of the Covid-19 pandemic was sourced from Cuebiq, a company offering “mobility insights” to help marketers anticipate behavior and target their advertising efforts. This is data that accumulates whenever cellphone users move; rest registers as the absence of information.

Whether for businesses or government authorities, this data offers the promise of extracting value from the altered rhythms of lockdown. Here, it helps absorb prediction into prayer. In a process that continually rewrites the requiem, the application relies on forecasts of people’s movement habits to decide its own future path.

Installation view 1, Art Museum at the University of Toronto, Canada, 2023
installation view, Art Museum at the University of Toronto, Canada, 2023

The Future Tense was developed in collaboration with researchers at SONY CSL Paris, with support from the European Commission and the Fondation Fiminco.

Scientist Collaborators Vittorio Loreto (principal Investigator), Gaëtan Hadjeres, Bernardo Monechi, Enrico Ubaldi
Production & sound design Charlie Culbert
Singers Virgile Ancel, Ivar Hervieu, Cyrille Lerouge
Publication designed by Hoang Nguyen and David Gobber, texts by Anabelle Lacroix and Lucas Morin

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