CYBORG SYNTHESIS

Laufzeit: 

09/09/2020 bis 20/11/2020

Öffnungszeiten: 

Tuesday - Friday, 2 - 5pm and by appointment

Eröffnung: 

Mittwoch, 9. September 2020 - 14:00
©_esc_mkl_CYBORG_SYNTHESIS_AdamHarvey-and-JulesLaPlace2019

"Like air and drinking water, being digital will be noticed only by its absence, not its presence. Computers as we know them today will a) be boring, and b) disappear into things that are first and foremost something else: smart nails, self-cleaning shirts, driverless cars, therapeutic Barbie dolls. Computers will be a sweeping yet invisible part of our everyday lives: We'll live in them, wear them, even eat them. Face it - the Digital Revolution is over," wrote Nicholas Negroponte, Professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology over 20 years ago in "Beyond Digital".

The image of the cyborg cannot be separated from the concept of information. The term cyborg was first applied within the context of the "space race" to an astronaut whose body was to be adapted to the conditions of space. Cybernetics as a theory of "C3I, Command-Control-Communication-Intelligence", which describes living beings and machines as "basically the same", as living and technical systems, was also created essentially as part of military research. It is not just knowledge and technological processes but also people and other organisms that are broken down into information units subject to a theory of language and control - everything is rendered codable.

The exhibition Cyborg Synthesis focuses on the cultural, economic and social changes caused by digital technologies - the increasing ubiquity of the digital, a penetration of our everyday life by digitally controlled technologies - in order to find out to what extent we on the one hand still notice their deep integration into our everyday lives, and on the other how far we are still able to co-determine the situation. This applies not only with regard to the smartphone, which functions equally as a camera, mirror, alarm clock, magnifying glass, lamp, storage device, music supply, toy, navigation device and, last but not least, as a phone, but also to different forms of surveillance and control technologies, from smart homes to smart cities for generating and controlling global financial flows.

 

The digital is not virtual reality, not a sphere separated in some way by a matrix from everyday life and culture, but rather a constitutive participant and integral part of our daily life. We have already bid farewell to the notion of the digital conceived as a separate sphere, and are in the middle of a chaotic state of media, art and design, after their digitisation. This state requires a critical reflection on and disenchantment with the promises of the digital age. "When we talk about the internet or mass surveillance—which are basically two sides of the same coin at this point—we use horribly mystifying metaphors to describe them: the cloud, the world wide web, the Information Superhighway, and so on,” says artist Trevor Paglen, an expert in tracing concealed and hidden infrastructures that serve both as the basis of our electronic communications and state-initiated surveillance at the same time.

Cyborg Synthesis demonstrates the increasing links between public space and digital networks, reveals the complex processes of digital image recognition methods, and examines imaging processes. Growing interest in image circulation, its disclosure, transfer and transmission into other media is accompanied by repeated shifts in context and meaning. (Reverse) translation into a material state can be an effective means of reflecting the omnipresence of digital technologies and the complex nature of digital images and communications processes. In the form of installations, events of an interactive and immersive nature are examined in visual programming environments, a software entity is traced in the disembodied and abstract nature of a computer system, themes such as genetic engineering and robotics are tackled, the field of techno-magic analysed and replicated, synaesthetic and hyperconnective aesthetics tested and important applications of the mapping world are investigated. Artistic means are employed to develop a critical look at the concept of the human through body, perceptions and metaphors from programming environments, robotics, artificial life and simulation.

According to Rosi Braidotti, things are no longer conceived in conventional categories and philosophy becomes science fiction: genetics and artificial insemination, robotics, implants and computer technology have produced cyborgs, zombies and clones not only in science fiction. In philosophy and in human sciences too a lively discussion has developed in recent years about the limits and opportunities for humans in the face of modern technologies.

 

Braidotti's ideas take us (forcibly) from humanism to the age of post-humanism, into which technological advances and capitalism have catapulted us: the humanist person – male, white, rational, self-confident, Eurocentric – is no longer the measure of all things and today, according to Braidotti, has made way for a nomadic, non-individual subject: not identical to the self, collective and cosmopolitan, networked with other subjects in diverse ways – not just people but also animals and things. So for Braidotti, the end of humanism holds a utopia: it opens up new social connections and communality on a global scale. Among other things she speaks of the "biogenetic structure of contemporary capitalism".

The same questions are still the subject of discussion: what dangers and new opportunities arise from the shifts in power and dominance relationships, but also from changes to the way of being in the world and understanding oneself, for socialist and feminist policies and practices? What commonalities emerge when planets, people, animals, plants, machines, when everything is viewed as a communication system? What bonds connect people and machines, people and plants, machines and plants, etc.?

Taking as a starting-point Donna Haraway's ideas, which created a link to post-colonial critiques of dualisms and identity logics as well as her efforts to forge a political unity from the non-identical, the cyborgisation of society is examined and discussed from various artistic, theoretical and also practical perspectives.

 

Literature:

Rosi Braidotti, The Posthuman, 2013

Ollivier Dyens, The Emotion of Cyberspace: Art and Cyber-Ecology, 1994

Donna Haraway, A Cyborg Manifesto: Science, Technology, and Socialist-Feminism in the Late

Twentieth Century, 1984

Donna J. Haraway, Unruhig bleiben. Die Verwandtschaft der Arten im Chthuluzän, 2018

Katja Kwastek, Wir sind nie digital gewesen. Postdigitale Kunst als Kritik binären Denkens, p. 68 ff.,

in: KUNSTFORUM International Vol. 243 Nov. – Dec. 2016, ed. Franz Thalmair

Dagmar Fink, Ein Fisch im flaschengrünen tiefen All? Oder: wie Feminist*innen die transhumane

Figur d* Cyborg kaperten und zu compost verarbeiteten, in: FIfF-Kommunikation 3/16

Susanne Lettow, Biokapitalismus und Inwertsetzung der Körper. Perspektiven der Kritik, in: PROKLA

178, 45th vol, no. 1, 2015

Roland Schappert, Digitalisierung heute. Wert und Legitimation, p. 228 ff., in: KUNSTFORUM

International vol. 252 Feb. – March 2018

Franz Thalmair, Postdigital 1. Allgegenwart und Unsichtbarkeit eines Phänomens, p. 39 ff., in:

KUNSTFORUM International vol. 242 Sept. – Oct. 2016

BULLETIN ETH Zürich no. 286 August 2002

Koproduktion: 

steirischer herbst 2020

Graz Kulturjahr 2020