October 8 @ Dokkhuset.
Does the technology of our present era hold true to the promise of fulfilling the fundamental humanist ideal, which the founders of the modern age once set out with the intent to create a new sovereign class of citizens — a society made up of self-determined, truly just and equal individuals?
And what role can art play in all of this?
Concept by Angela D. Schmitt.
Alex Adriaansens, Angelica D. Shmitt, Michel F. van Dartel, Oron Catts, Chris Salter, Henrik Menné, Herwig Weiser, Jose Manuel Berenguer, Andy Gracie, Michiko Nitta, Annina Rüst.
Progress of science and technology is regarded as a guarantor of a widely distributed social wealth which serves to maintain the needs and requirements of modern, division-of-labour based, “man”. And still a modernist narrative persists according to which the liberty and autonomy of the individual go hand in hand with high technology and the global interconnectedness of our societies. So how does this optimistic view relate to the catastrophic scenarios we seem to be faced with almost every day in this cataclysmic age of ours?
Today, enormous environmental problems, climate change, famines, pandemics, war and international terrorism, to name but a few of the seemingly endless list of calamities, threaten not just the lives of people but also the very planet itself. At the same time, the limits of the growth dynamics of individual economic systems become clearly recognizable, being thrown into stark relief against an increasing exploitation of natural and human resources. The threat of a destabilization of the global financial system, which appears to be linked to this process, becomes more and more pronounced. A systemic collapse, one might even argue, holds not only the potential to shake asunder our libertarian democratic societies, but would also endanger the prevailing peace in large sections of the globe.
In Aldous Huxley’s vision of a “Brave New World”, as outlined in his dystopian novel of 1937, the author projected the model of a society, where the communication of values, such like stability, liberty and peace ensured a lasting psychological and mental indoctrination. Beyond that, people were already being physically manipulated at the fetal stage, combined with an imprinting of the toddlers in line with the requirements of the castes they would ultimately be expected to belong to. A common characteristic of all these castes in the book was the conditioning of sexual urge and the administration of a drug called Soma, ensuring that the members of this society lost any need or interest to seriously scrutinize their particular world order. The government of that world was provided by so-called controllers, who were venerated by the people of that society as veritable idols.
Less than a century later, viewing our own world against the kind of background created by Huxley, we may well wonder to what extent science, technology and media are capable of creating and developing approaches and techniques that would engender just such a scenario — or create a more desirable type of future.
Does the technology of our present era hold true to the promise of fulfilling the fundamental humanist ideals, which the founders of the modern age once set out with the intent to create a new sovereign class of citizens — a society made up of self-determined, truly just and equal individuals?
And what role can art play in all of this?
Looking at today´s artistic production, there hardly exists a common practice, or a unified understanding of contemporary Art. During the last decennia artists have expanded their activities into all domains of society, sometimes approaching a point of near-vaporizing as any material, even social life itself can nowadays be the subject of art.
How can we understand the approaches, ideas and options offered by contemporary artistic practices, reflecting and shaping our technological culture?
The distinctions between the arts and the sciences have become blurred again. While the natural sciences are opening themselves up to Humanities-related questions, the „laboratory“ as a scientific model has been remodelled by artists as the place for interdisciplinary research, experimentation and the production of works of art.
Artists are today working with the complexity of life and its interelationsships with technological systems. They are researching and questioning the ‘life of forms’ as well as the ‘forms of life’ and its intrinsic conditions.
It is within this spectrum that Meta.Morf Conference is bringing together artists, designers, theorists and scientists from different backgrounds to present concepts, ideas and projects that are engaging and reflecting our contemporary conditions within their personal artistic practices.
Angelica D. Schmitt
Angelica D. Schmitt studied Art History, Audio Visual Media and Philosophy. Beside her artistic work, she is a theorist, researcher and author on contemporary media art practices focussed on the impact of digitalization. In the early nineties she started her theoretical research by questioning if interactivity can be understood as an aesthetical quality that is addressing the adaptation of traditional art theory to digital conditions.
Angelica Schmitt has been collaborating with Two Suns Media Development in Berlin for whom she authored the development of processing software for intelligent environments. She participated in several media art projects, conferences and festivals in Europe and China. Currently she is working on her interactive Art-project, a multi-user-environment, where she is transfering the notion of „Interface“ into the epistemological field. In this project she undertakes an extrapolation of western thinking with regard to technological developments and global conditions. She translates the relationship between traditional concepts of perception and a mediated reality into the form of a critical stocktaking research.
With V2_ publishing ( among others), she has written Do You Understand Chinese Media-Art? in 2007s Interact or Die!.
Michel F. van Dartel (PhD)
MichelvanDartel (1976, NL) is curator and project manager at V2_, Institute for the Unstable Media. As a curator he coordinates the events series Test_Lab – a demonstration and discussion platform for artistic research and development – and organizes various other national and international events on electronic art.
As project manager he mediates between artists and developers in artistic productions. Prior to his current appointments, he worked as a cognitive scientist at Maastricht University, where he investigated knowledge representation in robot models. Michel holds an MSc in Cognitive Psychology and a PhD in Artificial Intelligence. He also is a skateboard veteran, founding member of music group The Rose Frustrates, and DJ.