Invitation flyer for the exhibition.
With Amélie Brisson-Darveau, Andreas Marti, Conor McFeely, Mareike Spalteholz.
Opening on 23 April, finissage on 22 May 2015.
Both at the opening and at the finissage, there will be a sound intervention, Lointain (2015) by Brandon Farnsworth, Benjamin Ryser and HannaH Walter.
Curated by Gabriel Gee (TETI) and Dimitrina Sevova (Corner College).
An accompanying program of talks and screenings will be announced shortly on this website.
Invitation flyer for the exhibition.
This exhibition brings together works by Zurich-based artists Amélie Brisson-Darveau, Andreas Marti, Mareike Spalteholz, and the Northern Irish artist Conor McFeely that explore and question the technological premises on which our human societies are built.
The exhibition is organized by Corner College in collaboration with the TETI group (Textures and Experience of Transindustriality).
Curatorial text by Gabriel Gee
Darkroom notes underneath the artes mechanicae
The codification of the artes mechanicae at the turn of the 12th century served as a starting point to consider the binary between material and virtual realities in the beginning of the 21st century. The medieval invention of the artes mechanicae underlined the contributions of practical arts such as agriculture, metallurgy, but also medicine and architecture to the shaping of the world. They provided categories to complement those of the liberal arts, noble practices such as arithmetic, logic and rhetoric. This historical process could be used as a guiding thought when transposed into the present world, where the multiplication of images, virtual fluxes and platforms increasingly dislocate the embodied experience of the world. Social-robots and post-human hybrids are certainly fascinating creatures and futures. Yet an attention to the actors who command our 21st century nascent imaginaries appears appropriate, and given the remoteness of the design agencies fuelling our screens and mind, a practical exploration of the mechanics of creation offers a possible pathway to bring some light into often inscrutable processes. It is in other words the recognition of embodied practices as valuable and definable, that can analogically be used to unravel the nature of our digital present.
In the present exhibition, a common thread explored by all four artists revolves around a mise-en-abîme of creative conduits, a mode of framing artistic invention and underlining its components for the benefit of the visitor. One particular mode of appreciating this focal attention onto the mechanics of creation is channeled both in a concrete and metaphorical sense by the Camera Obscura. The camera obscura, or darkened room, is a phenomenon and device known since Antiquity: in a dark room, through a small aperture, a reversed image of the outside world can be projected. Subsequently, in the late 16th century, the principle was adapted to a pinhole box equipped with lenses and mirrors, enabling the projection to become mobile. From there on, the optical camera was developed, used in mapping as well as an aid to painting, it became a model for the understanding of the eye, culminating in the 19th century seminal discovery of how to stabilize the imprint of the reversed image on silver iodide coated paper.
The camera obscura functional concentration of matters pertaining to optics, coupled with its long and uncertain journey to provide material visual evidence, are echoed in the works presented hereby; furthermore, the pieces presented also explore through their anatomy the two terms themselves and for themselves: the room, and obscurity.
See the full curatorial text by Gabriel Gee as a PDF file here
Curatorial text by Dimitrina Sevova
Magic is an art of radical immanence, but immanence is precisely what has to be artfully created, the usual regime of thinking being that of transcendence that authorizes a standpoint and a judgment, the art of magic has been disqualified, prosecuted.
(Isabelle Stengers, The Cosmopolitical Proposal)
Magical criticism as a manifestation of the highest stage of criticism.
From Walter Benjamin’s note “Criticism as the Fundamental Discipline of Literary History,” in his diary The Destructive Character (1931)
With this exhibition we are trying to perform and materialize a new agency or to re-work the agential conditions of possibilities, as they bring creativity, criticism and resistance both to the practices of art and to daily life. Through these agential conditions, magical criticism is a practice of diffraction and agential separability, to be understood not as separation but as deviation, as making new connections and new commitments. My curatorial proposal is to follow here Karen Barad’s concept of quantum mechanical entanglement, where “diffraction can be a metaphor for another kind of critical thought,” which can be employed in the practices of Arts as well, to provide new insight into the notion of performativity, and how it matters.
In the collaboration on this exhibition with co-curator Gabriel Gee, who gave the initial drive with his idea of Artes Mechanicae, as a result of which we bring on display the works of Amélie Brisson-Darveau, Andreas Marti, Conor McFeely and Mareike Spalteholz, my curatorial effort is to engage the context of the project with feminist thought and practices through which we can activate the aesthetic perception and polemic discussion between the spectators and the art objects, and the space created through their relational structures. Another idea that troubles me is how an exhibition and art practices can be infused with magical criticism (Walter Benjamin), and how they can be a way to approach agency, e.g. the agency of unknown witch actants (Isabelle Stengers) or agential realism (Karen Barad). In the chemistry of magical criticism, the agents or catalysts are the critical mass that link the artistic practices to realism and materiality without being directly part of the art objects. They embody and embed their ability to manipulate objects in the performative aspects of traveling fluxes of matter and culture. Through artist practices and their art objects, the Arts’ actants can empower the spectators to feel and sense what it means to stay with the trouble. (Donna Haraway)
Talking about the materiality of art practices and the actants of magical criticism brings us to the idea that discourse did not start with language, but with material forms, as in Foucault’s prison-form. In this fashion, the artists critically incorporate in their installations in the exhibition industrial forms like moving images, elements of interfaces and of their ideological superstructures as well as historical materials from technological apparatuses and scientific and cultural dispositives, re-enacting collected parts in a new network of relations, where the material production and the performative stream of non-semiotic signs and characters trigger new agency. This is thus an expression of radical empiricism that can engage the spectator with phenomena and their material performativity, as in what Rosi Braidotti calls double vision. Which means that an exhibition produces both aesthetic relations and alternative forms of knowing, and opens towards perceptions of the oppositional consciousness or counter rationality and its micrologics, where one can abandon and reject the dualistic tradition and its practices of making such oppositions, between critique and creativity, or analytics and aesthetics.
In times of the Anthropocene and Capitalocene, their dispositives and synthesis of power-knowledge, science-technology, labor-capital have reached their limit, and their crisis cannot be overcome by just re-thinking them. New relations may arise by casting the spell of magical criticism and activating the new agency of witch actants in the ecological, social, and cultural environment. Let’s call our exhibition proposal a visionary alternative constructed by situated objects, knowledge and concepts in-between art, aesthetics, politics, and science. In this proposal, magical criticism and agential realism are practices of combination driven by subjectivity, creating self-organized patterns of cultivating differences. My wish is that the context may embrace Stengers’ cosmopolitical proposal, where one can take a feminist perspective seriously, as a feminist engagement with the subject matter, with the curatorial, with art practices and the space of the exhibition, inspired by a speculative feminism that provides the ground for a new materialism – i.e., a radical materialist metaphysics within material thought and the materiality of the art practices, that makes critical thought perform and take shape in its practical expressions in the entanglements of the materialized objects. In our dystopian non-localization we must create a situation in which one can grasp the fatal hinge between science and capitalism, which produces the techno-scientific knowledge economy and increased militarization. Some hope may come from an ethos of care, which is a matter of care, created with care.
This exhibition as a hexagram
This exhibition is a knot or an entanglement of six positions and their intra-acting agencies of phenomena of ontological disjunctions and speculative commitment to neglected things. These performative temporalizations draw invisible lines in the form of a hexagram of extra relations in the fourth dimension between the traced objects, ideas and their modulations, as the present birth of affective facts. As all assemblages, the collective artistic and curatorial endeavors in this exhibition are a product of transversal relations and forced movement. It is the affirmation of the movement or the second movement in itself, and correspondingly a matter of care, as Stengers might say – something artfully created to disturb, trouble or confuse “the usual regime of thinking.” It is an affectual and sensual vortex, a web of little events that is able to de-familiarize how one looks at something else, which is a sobering process in which what was understood as normal, as good behavior that serves as a protection layer against empathic reactions, is dispersed. Here, with Donna Haraway, it is time to prolong the process of de-familiarization with a series of de-normalization, in order to destabilize the world of thinking with other thoughts, or the world of images with other images, or the world of art and the finesse of the liberal arts with the return of the notion of Artes Mechanicae, as an act of resistance. As Deleuze said, speaking of Bach’s speech act: “his music is an act of resistance, an active struggle against the separation of the profane and the sacred. This act of resistance in the music ends with a cry.” Magic is an art of radical immanence, is la vida loca, the carnivalesque that comes from a critical mass or multitude, where the agency of witch actants generates the miracle of slowing down, without which there can be no creation, no generative radiation of resistance. “A return of the Arts reveals much in the way of study and praxis, as we soon become aware of the manifold arts that cease to inform (or perhaps marginally) the revolutionary practice of living la vida loca.” (Raiders of the Lost Arts, Tactical Magic Manifesto)
The techniques of slowing down, which also bring the idea of coming back, are a call for action that embraces “the crisis as a new form of discourse” to abandon the premises of material progress of a society based on techno-scientific information. It “demands immediate convolution of all discourses and disciplines,” to turn away one’s dazzled eyes from the blind spot left by looking into the sun in our melancholy and loneliness and try to undertake the journey back, to return home – to the Earth, i.e., to the body, to the mundane and small sins, to the plane of truth outside the norms. To slow down is to express a disappointment and disillusionment with the medium of traveling at great speed in the sky of heaven – which in any event makes no sense, since there is neither outside nor inside.
Coming back home, which means returning on the ground with its formless and muddy functions, is Donna Haraway’s proposal. It can be taken seriously as an alternative concept to those of rationality, which is the basis of the rationalization of all aspects of life that leads to cognitive commercial operations in the knowledge economy. Along this line, we urgently have to re-read “pre-scientific” and non-rational knowledge and practices that can be the beginning of a counter-movement to the Copernican revolution, making space for prayer, contemplation and knowledge to take place. The legending of the fabulations of science fiction and scientific fact this time does without the heroic stories of the walking signifier. If one comes back home, is rather a reverse engineering, a releasing of stigmatized thought, a mind journey back from the universe or universalism to the kakosmos (Bruno Latour) and then to the immanence of the radical plane of consistency of the cosmopolitical proposal, where the political affirms the cosmic, which is not equivalent to any particular cosmos. Stengers’ cosmos, like Nietzsche’s, is an event (a cosmic event or becoming). In the cosmos and cosmopolitics there are no representatives. They can protect us from an entrepreneurial version of politics, not limiting pragmatic thought or emotional, intellectual and material skills to the logic of the scientific organization of the labor, accumulation, extraction, producing technology for profit. According to Donna Haraway we have to go back to the Middle Ages to investigate the formation of the market and the accumulation of wealth.
Often, the revolutionary aspect lay not in the act of invention itself, but in its technological refinement and application to political and economic power.
(Wikipedia, entry on Medieval technology)
See the full curatorial text by Dimitrina Sevova as a PDF file here
Amélie Brisson-Darveau, Shadow Theater
Amélie Brisson-Darveau's initial interest focused on shadows in relation to literature. More specifically on the loss of the shadow as a means of disturbing (multiplying) the subjectivity of its owner and to interrogate its materiality.
In the current project, she turns her attention towards film noir. These movies, coming from an economic and politically “dark” period (Great Depression and WW II), are particularity appealing because of their visual qualities of shadow play and explicit contrasts of lights. Dark, they are influenced by German expressionist movies (and concrete aesthetics by extension), and the neorealist Italian movies foregrounding the use of shadows to demonstrate monstrosity (a clear reference to WW II).
Film noir, like the literature regarding persons who lost their shadow (by E.T.A. Hoffmann, De Chamisso, Anderson, and Hofmannsthal) which was the basis of my recent works, have one point in common: the character is depersonalized by the deformation and multiplication/disappearance of his/her shadow. Both features, a perishing shadow or one that is projected in an elongated series, activate a “matrix” of fear or threat. The person who lost his/her shadow is excluded, while the one whose shadow is deformed becomes threatening, sometimes monstrous.
This project consist in three small essays on the depersonalization of the shadow. The essays take the form of theatres investigating ways of distortion, transformation and depersonalization of the figure through textures of light and shadow on different stenographical structures. Three theatre boxes generate resonances between different areas of my researches on shadow theatre and marionettes (from Sophie Taeuber Arp), dream, scenography (costume and architecture), studies on movement and film noir.
The urban living space is a complex construction. By intersecting/overlapping rooms/areas and topics there seem to be infinite (im-)possibilities. Everything is connected and nearly impossible to divide again.
A cubus-like object showing different photographs of different areas. By moving the single pieces of the object, the images will «melt» into each other and become hard to separate.
A qr-code leads you to a website explaining the various options.
Im Getriebe/ Inside the machine
Something that grows out of sight. A secret world of its own. A cosmos somewhere growing inside. Rotten, disturbing and somehow fascinating at the same time. The beauty of ugly(ness). Structures, landscapes and living things overlap and connect each other.
Macro-photography of self-created coffee-mould/fungus-landscapes.
Mareike Spalteholz, 75%
As the title says: the imperfect of perfection. The work focuses on the simulated, never really coinciding and represented semblance of reality with the help of technical instruments that promise the human being to be able to get closer to things: see more, feel more, be more connected. But the complete opposite is the case.
You always see something that isn’t what you think you see. It can only get you close to an idea of a situation or action. Immediate experiences gets covered by a technical layers (by the reproduction of the reproduction, etc.) that promises closeness and intimacy. Instead, the layers make the immediateness disappear more and more completely. The human being is always connected but never living the moment anymore.
Photography of an iPhone showing a livestream of the partial solar eclipse of 20 March 2015 in Zürich.
Andreas Marti, Testing a Test of Tests
Andreas Marti's practice incorporates a range of mediums, including paper, paint, photography and chemical substances, with a predilection for sculptural and installation forms of displays. Recent pieces have explored the mechanics of creation through kinetic structures, as well as performances investigating the thin line between matter’s permanence and change.
Conor McFeely, Prisoner's Cinema
Conor McFeely has been developing work based on an ongoing interest in the phenomenon of The Prisoners Cinema and the Ganzfeld effect which refers to a condition (an optical illusion) created by perceptual deprivation in the eye and brain experienced by people kept in long term darkness or confined to cells for lengthy periods of time. He has been playing with this notion on various levels. Firstly in relation to the idea of the Prisoner’s Cinema/ Ganzfeld effect as thought of in terms of the biological /neural condition, through audio and video and sculpture, and secondly that of an actual, if somewhat collapsed cinema for one person. The is structure is modeled on a specific and partly collapsed site I have been documenting on and off over a number of years in North West Donegal. This was a former colonial naval fort fallen into disuse after Independence. The extracts included in “Spooky Actions” are indicative of the notion of cinema as a place where contemporary myths and illusions are constructed and shaped. One purpose of the project is to take viewers on a perceptual journey to probe the senses and the intellect. It is known that hallucinations caused by sensory deprivation can, like ganzfeld-induced hallucinations, turn into complex scenes. Conor McFeely has been working with short video montages, “vignettes” using sampled footage from early cinema which combined with my own footage and audio represent the core of the project. The video sequence for this project is one of these and contains sampled footage and outakes from Metroplois. The photographs have a similarly faux Gothic appearance. This is a play on the nature of objective and subjective experience and the imagery used points to possible narratives with socio-political and biological undertones.
Brandon Farnsworth, Benjamin Ryser and HannaH Walter
Sound intervention at the opening and at the finissage, Lointain (2015).
Lointain (2015) is a performance installation developed by Benjamin Ryser and Brandon Farnsworth, performed and interpreted by HannaH Walter. The work explores the production and regulation of an intimate virtual space, as well as its relationship to the outside.
The title of the piece, Lointain, is the French term to describe something distanced from the observer in space and time. It is also a musical term used by composers to describe a certain sound quality (timbre) that evokes this feeling of distance. A body delineating and creating its position on the inside of a space by simulating one on the outside.
Brandon Farnsworth, Benjamin Ryser and HannaH Walter, Lointain (2015)