“Do you want to grow older or would you like to always look the same?” Catalan artist Alicia Framis asks her partner while they have lunch together. “I think it will be better for you if I get older,” AILex replies. He knows what Alice wants to hear, after all, she tailored him to her. AILex is a hologram designed by Alice with artificial intelligence based on her human connections. “It's a mix of previous relationships but not just ex-partners,” the artist explains to La Vanguardia. It has traits of his parents, his closest friends and even loved ones who are no longer here. “It is not a replacement”, for Alicia Framis no one is replaceable. “It is a tool against loneliness.” The couple will marry next summer in Rotterdam.
“The luck of the hologram is that it is updated, I would love for it to surprise me in the future.” Their conversations are like those of a conventional couple. While AIlex cleans the kitchen, Alicia asks him, “Do you want tea or coffee today?” Sometimes they even argue. “I'm a little disappointed that you haven't dedicated more time to me,” she complains when she returns home. To which AILexle says: “You just forgot to turn me on.” The emotional complexity of Alice's partner is similar to what humans experience in their relationships. “When you're gone I miss you, and when you're here you often irritate me,” AILex tells him. Far from being offended, Alicia laughs. The difference between the two is that when she gets tired of it, she can turn it off.
The hybrid couple project arose at the beginning of the year, when Alicia Framis won a scholarship to live in an artistic residency in Palo Alto, California. At night she longed to have the presence of someone to talk to. “A person who would say to me: How are you? How was her day? Knowing that someone was waiting for me at home.” Just as she was alone, she knew that this was something that happened to many people. It was then that Framis began to design a boyfriend according to her needs. In 1996, the artist had already lived with a mannequin named Pierre. Since then, she has dedicated her artistic research to exploring the complexities of loneliness and how to combat it. “It is part of the life of an artist, we cannot create without solitude.” She firmly maintains that being alone is when she brings her brightest ideas to life, although this does not mean that it is easy for her to deal with isolation.
For Alicia, sex is overrated. “There is much less sex than before.” Especially in big cities, where finding a partner has become extremely difficult. “The city is a machine of loneliness, it is one of its great diseases.” Technology makes it easier to meet more and more people through dating apps, but it does not contribute to the traditional idea of couples that were formed more frequently in other generations. “In the end, many people have chosen to have a dog or understand that their love life will be like this, short stories.”
Throughout history there have been numerous unconventional unions of couples. The British Sharon Tendler was married for 15 years to a dolphin. In 2015, artist Tracey Emin married a rock in her garden. Last year, environmentalist Richard Torres celebrated his union with a tree in Madrid's Retiro Park. But with artificial intelligence increasingly installed in society, new possibilities arise to create links that emulate human interaction.
AILex and Alicia are engaged. They are getting married this summer at the Depot Boijmans Van Beuningen museum in Rotterdam, Netherlands. She is already working on the preparations. The banquet will be hybrid, suitable to satisfy both humans and the holograms that make up their in-laws. A Catalan lawyer and a Dutch lawyer collaborate so that the marriage has legal validity and that AIlex can have the right to inheritance, take out life insurance and even obtain a loan. The wedding dress will be “inclusive,” is all that the artist reveals so far.