An Interactive Installation by DeBugReBoot
welcome_alien introduces Dweller, an online chatbot designed to generate microaggressions towards the viewer, particularly picking at the viewer's foreignness to the virtual space that the chatbot occupies. Satirical in nature, the work uses humour to emphasize the larger societal impact of reducing often marginalized or oppressed people into stereotypes.
This work was developed as residents of The Roundtable Residency​​​​​​​
You can interact with our bot on our collective's website at
Screen capture of Dweller's virtual environment
Art Statement
In their work welcome_alien, DeBugReboot has created a virtual space that the viewer is invited to approach as an outsider. Welcoming the spectator we find Dweller v1.0.0 - a chatbot blind to the underlying aggressiveness in its comments - the original inhabitant of this virtual space and the only one that belongs. The viewer will be invited through the aesthetics of a chat window to interact with an entity that has been trained to speak in microaggressions. 

In this project, the collective is exploring concepts of otherness by focusing on microaggressions because of their commonality and their power to remind us of our differences. The strategy used is that of empathy, by sharing the pain as a way of resistance. The artists want to evoke empathy by turning the tables on the viewer, exposing them to those well-intentioned comments that harm those who are different. At the end of the intervention, what remains is the expectation of a lingering sense of awareness while provoking a connection with ideas of globalized culture.
Photo-Documentation at the Roundtable Residency Exhibition
We acknowledge the support of the Canada Council for the Arts.
We acknowledge the support from the Ontario Arts Council, an agency of the Government of Ontario.
Nikole and Carlos McGregor are new media artists who use installation technologies, machine learning, and visual computing to explore themes of intersectional feminism. Together, they form DeBugReBoot, a multidisciplinary art collective that explores the virtual and the physical intersections, inspired by how technology can intervene on themes of generational and cultural diversity.
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