Esoteric AI: 3 Things to Explore

Inspired by the counter-movements of slow fashion and slow food, Slow AI project investigates three emerging AI counter-narratives – Small AI , Ancestral AI & Esoteric AI  – and explores what it might look like to incorporate them into our everyday practice.

Esoteric AI challenges mainstream perceptions of AI as either disenchanted or enchanted, proposing alternative ways of seeing, sensing, and knowing AI that blur the seeming binary of magic and technology. Inspired by feminist philosophy and science and technology studies, Esoteric AI seeks to trouble the normative understandings of AI and reclaim the feminine and the enchanted from the dominant ways they are projected onto AI. Just as a séance is a collective process, so is our reimagining and reenchanting of AI.

In this update, we're excited to share three insightful elements to deepen your understanding of Esoteric AI. First, explore a recent reading that captivated our research lead, Natalia Stanusch. Second, meet a person of interest making waves in the field. Lastly, watch a compelling snippet to further immerse yourself in the research of the Esoteric AI project. Dive in and explore these curated highlights from Natalia.


Research Lead


Jun 2024


Stimuleringsfonds Creative Industries + currently looking for additional co-funding

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In this text, David Benqué discusses the almanac not as an object or a stand-in for divination, but rather as a framing device that can be used to critically understand the algorithmic, data-driven world of today. Almanac, as a framing device and a particular epistemological tradition, is blurring the lines between illegitimate and legitimate modes of prediction. Benqué, a designer and researcher, manages to very succinctly explore the history of future telling from early astrology to search query predictions both through his design practice and written word. The text is a great and to-the-point demonstration of how today’s desire to predict behaviors through data is intrinsically related to (and originating from) the almanac.

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I came across Maia Kenney while reading her text Mystics of the Chthulucene. Maia Kenney, is an art historian, curator and critic, and the digital curator and editor of The Couch, the online platform that I ventured into while going through Mystics of the Chthulucene.  Maia is both a great art historian and storyteller. She pits her critical eye and brings together artistic, scientific, and theoretical artistic and research practices to explore the contemporary sociotechnical world.

Her text, Mystics of the Chthulucene, is a great entry point that ties directly into the question what are the implications of magic and divination as theories of knowledge. Maia makes a case that magic has been a label used for a particular type of woman knowledge and that, historically, magic can be viewed as a particular technology.

Illustration: Rustan Söderling. From Mystics of the Chthulucene Maia Kenney, Rustan Söderling (illustrator). 2023. The Couch.


Ginevra is an artist and designer whose work “To be a witch in the age of Surveillance Capitalism,” a performance and a follow-up video, is a way of creating new hybrid rituals for the contemporary era as well as a way of infiltrating systems of control. In her artistic practice, Ginevra takes on the role of a “digital witch,” reclaiming the archetypal role of the sorceress as a healer, and as a political rebel. She adapts the format of the tarot deck of cards and uses a smartphone to both reveal and reclaim the power embedded in the device. “To be a witch in the age of Surveillance Capitalism” ultimately subvertes the role of a smartphone into a divination object but also an object of power that steers and influences our lives. Additionally, Ginevra brings attention to the figure of the witch as an archetype of resistance whose role is that of reclaiming (and reconfiguring) power.