Carnival of Shipwreck

Carnival Season (September 21 – December 21, 2024)

October 22 – 26, 2024

Carnival is reversal. Carnival is release.

Spanish philosopher Jose Ortega y Gasset worried, early in the 20th century, that the modern world's capacity to create culture in response to changing conditions had significantly eroded.

Life is shipwreck, he offered, and culture is the swimming stroke that keeps us from drowning.

However, over time, we become burdened by "parasitic and lymphatic matter" that threatens to pull us under and completely undermines our ability to adapt to changes that come. We develop techniques, institutions, and ways of thinking that we are hesitant to let go of because learning to swim again is scary and uncertain. We look out for rescue with no guarantee that it will ever come.

Carnival of Shipwreck is UKAI’s celebration of being in the water.

Our culture did not evolve to deal with climate change or the explosion of artificial intelligence. The promise of a better future may no longer hold and as a result, too many cling to ideas of control and rescue. Groups of various political stripes are rediscovering their authoritarian impulses. 

The accumulated institutions, routines, and assumptions that got us into this mess aren't likely to get us out of it.

We'll need to figure out other ways of being in the water and our work in 2024 has been an attempt to contribute in various ways to this effort. Carnival of Shipwreck is a celebration of this work and, more importantly, of those that made it.

What you can expect at Carnival of Shipwreck

You can expect beauty and rage. You can expect direct, strange and embodied encounters with the changes underway. If we continue to turn sense-making over to ideologies, whether unreflectively internalized or forced upon us, we forego the work of making up our minds. To be answerable for what's coming, we will need to rediscover our capacity to make sense of the world.

Programmatically, you can expect a return to first principles and looking at artificial intelligence and ecological aesthetics with a weather eye to the future. We will be hosting workshops, performance lectures, provocations, performances, installations, and a lot of general weirdness and disorder.

And, as always, the main focus will be on music, dancing, release, reversal, friendship, and letting go so that we might return to the work renewed once Carnival season is concluded.

Last year we had over 350 folks come through and this year will be bigger (and longer).

Get advance tickets before they’re gone. We’ll be sharing out the various contributors to the Carnival of Shipwreck here and elsewhere.

Carnival season kicks off on September 21, 2024 with our Funding Reveal party as we look forward to new resources from a local investment firm excited by UKAI’s work (at a particularly difficult time for us and the arts!)

Carnival comes every Year 

Carnival is reversal. Carnival is release.

Prior to its co-optation by religious, state, and now commercial interests, Carnival served as a safety valve for people whose everyday lives were strictly controlled.

We honor this history by putting aside three months of each year for reversal and release.

In 2024, the festivities will climax with the Carnival of Shipwreck from October 22 to 26, 2024.

In 2023, we celebrated Algorithmic Culture over three very full days.

Carnival is a period of assimilation, digestion, and transformation. We bring together our work and the people that made it in joyous renewal. It is a period of friendship, goodwill, bodily welfare, spontaneous exchange, and freedom from repressive rules.

We dance, we play music, we laugh.

We give ourselves permission to be something else, at least for a while.

Carnival is both tragedy and comedy.

The word and idea of “tragedy” has its roots in ancient Greek. It is derived from the Greek word "tragōidia" (τραγῳδία), which is a compound of two words: "tragos" (τράγος), meaning "goat," and "ode" (ᾠδή).

The goat is a central figure in our work. The animal was sacrificed to spare the grape vines from its hunger. The grape, and the wine it produced, were sacred to Dionysus, and the sacrifice was made in the god’s name. Dionysus was also represented by the goat. So, the god was killed to save the god. Tragedy indeed.

Comedy also comes from the worship of Dionysus. The term comes from "kōmōidia" (κωμῳδία), which is a compound of two elements: "kōmos" (κῶμος) and "ōidē" (ᾠδή).  Kōmos (κῶμος) refers to a form of collective drinking, singing, and dancing through the streets.

Comedy and tragedy existed alongside each other as they do today in our work.

We end our year with a season of Carnival because, as with all things, comedy gets the last laugh.