"The Cargo Cult" combines live coding and AI

Damian T. Dziwis2018-12-08

ZKM | Center for Art and Media Karlsruhe

ZKM | Center for Art and Media Karlsruhe
Karlsruhe, Germany

During the Second World War, the natives of Melanesia developed a religious cult based on their observations of the American soldiers stationed there; which received food, clothing and all sorts of goods from cargo planes – a religious cult in which they imitated the behaviour of air traffic controllers and radio operators after the withdrawal of the military, functionless and senseless imitations of runways, towers, signal fires and seen objects; always in the hope that the new gods would continue to reward them with precious gifts. Thus “cargo cult” became a metaphor for questionable symbolic actions without a conscious causal connection to expected results. In our digital world, the “cargo cults” are omnipresent in symbolic actions towards big data networks, search engines or social media algorithms; in the hope that the new “digital gods” will reward one with more reach, likes, better rankings or scores – be it through (independently) acquired behaviour patterns or following the prophecies of social media and SEO gurus. The Cargo Cult stages this seemingly spiritual dialogue as an interaction with an independent-ly programming artificial intelligence, resulting in a live coding performance with auditory and visual artifacts.


  • Title: "The Cargo Cult" combines live coding and AI
  • Creator: Damian T. Dziwis
  • Date Created: 2018-12-08
  • Rights: © ZKM | Center for Art and Media, photo: Tanja Meißner

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