Spekulatives Design – Körper des digitalen Geistes

Eva Leonhard und Lisa Käsdorf

with text by Dr. Betti Marenko

as part of MCBW 2018 and supported by Bayern Design

 

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Speculative Design. The body of the digital mind

 

 

A central tenet of techno-utopianism, the desire of living outside and eventually beyond the body’s own finitude, lures us with its promise of immortality – a techno-alchemical version of the elixir of eternal life.
Cinematic imagination shows this desire as a dark and doomed one, the counter-natural, ennui-rising, vampiresque harbinger of an abject deterioration of society – cue a caste of immortals presiding over the world (from Transcendence to the current Netflix series Altered Carbon).
Can this well-rehearsed scenario be imagined otherwise?
What if future humans could successfully transcend their earthbound limitations by accessing full neuro-cognitive uploading? Leaving aside the implications of who would be entitled to the procedure and at which cost – not just for those who can afford it but, critically, for the rest of humanity – it is easy to see how persuasive the idea may be: digital optimization is the future.
A consciousness that becomes entirely digital gives us two conceptual paths to consider.
Either the body is obsolete – and total digitalization signals the absorption of body matter into a flow of codes, bits and algorithmic sequencing – the computational equivalent of the Cartesian body-mind split, with bodies turned into downgraded, disposable, replaceable ‘sleeves’ whose materiality becomes terminally second-rate.
Or else, what appears to be a cognitive externalization must be understood instead as the co-evolution of human minds with techno-digital machines. Here the human body-mind assemblage becomes machine becomes intelligence – whether this intelligence is deemed ‘artificial’ or ‘natural’, it no longer matters.
Maybe it never mattered.
The real challenge is to be able to speculate on this scenario of possible (present?) human-machine co-evolution without necessarily swerving to embrace the theocratic narrative of the singularity – the idea that a super-intelligence will emerge (or for some is emerging already) from the exponentially growing recursive process of
automatic machine learning.
Co-evolution means something else. As French philosopher and mechanologist Gilbert Simondon said exactly 60 years ago, we humans are always already among machines. Likewise, there are no machines without humans. Both evolve. Indeed, they co-evolve, to the point that the boundary between technology and humanity is vague, uncertain, slippery. That is why Simondon also wrote, enigmatically, and rather splendidly: “The robot does not exist”. 1
One day, humanity will wonder why decades were spent feeding irrational fears of AI when there is no artificial intelligence as such, but only one intelligence constantly evolving, mutating, incubating its own difference.
Brain uploading, then, is the tangible expression of this metamorphosis of intelligence which is already happening in a milieu that is at once machinic and corporeal, human and non-human, synthetic and organic. With each search, each click, each update, our cognitive capacities are already uploaded, encoded, some may say ‘evolved’ – in the whirring of a silicon-carbon merger.
Whether humans are conscious of this process or not, perhaps no longer matters either. Evolution is just another word for the manifold hybridizations moulding us and pushing us to the edge of tomorrow. Some may call it intelligence. Just don’t call it robot. 

Betti Marenko 2018

 

1. Gilbert Simondon. 2017. On the mode of existence of technical objects. Minneapolis: Univocal p. 16

 

German translation of text: Spekulatives-Design_deutsch

Contract: wren_Vetrag

 

 

Spekulatives Design – Körper des digitalen Geistes

Eva Leonhard und Lisa Käsdorf

with text by Dr. Betti Marenko

as part of MCBW 2018 and supported by Bayern Design

 

 

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Opening:  Thursday 8th of March, 7 – 10 pm
8.03. – 22.03.2018
 
A central tenet of techno-utopianism, the desire of living outside and eventually beyond the body’s own finitude, lures us with its promise of immortality – a techno-alchemical version of the elixir of eternal life. Betti Marenko
With its latest exhibition, “Spekulatives Design – Körper des digitalen Geistes,” GiG Munich is excited to be participating in Munich Creative Business Week for the first time. Supported by Bayern Design two young local designers, Eva Leonhard and Lisa Käsdorf, will be presenting new interactive work, which addresses the ontological, epistemic and ethical implications of the digitalisation of the body.
 
Head of Design at Central St. Martins, London, Dr. Betti Marenko, has written a text especially for the exhibition and this will be included as part of the work on show.

Robin Mason

Constellation : Konstellation, 2.02 – 2.03.2018

 

_MG_9050Robin Mason, Constellation : Konstellation, 2018, installation view. Image courtesy of Johannes Wende.

 

_MG_9044Robin Mason, Constellation : Konstellation, 2018, installation view. Image courtesy of Johannes Wende.

 

4Robin Mason, Over the Border, 2017, velvet robe, acrylic on wood, 38 x 300 cm

 

9Robin Mason, Collection, 2018, acrylic on paper, approx. 650 x 320 cm

 

10Robin Mason, Collection, 2018, acrylic on paper, approx. 650 x 320 cm

 

3 (2)Robin Mason, Threshold, 2017, acrylic on paper, 175 x 240 cm (detail)

 

13Robin Mason, Threshold, 2017, acrylic on paper, 175 x 240 cm

 

14Robin Mason, Black Forest Lake, 2017, acrylic on paper, four wineglasses, 65 x 42 x 15 cm

 

15Robin Mason, After Elsenheimer, 2018, acrylic on wood, acrylic on paper mirror, 40 x 30 cm and Constellation, 2017, acrylic on wood, 30 cm in diameter

 

17Robin Mason, After Elsenheimer, 2018, acrylic on wood, acrylic on paper mirror, 40 x 30 cm and Constellation, 2017, acrylic on wood, 30 cm in diameter

 

19Robin Mason, Constellation, 2017, acrylic on wood, 30 cm in diameter

Robin Mason

Constellation : Konstellation, 2.02 – 2.03.2018

 

5Robin Mason, Constellation : Konstellation, 2018, installation view

 

6Robin Mason, Constellation : Konstellation, 2018, installation view

 

_MG_9017Robin Mason, Collection, acrylic on paper, approx. 650 x 320 cm. Photo courtesy of Johannes Wende.

 

_MG_9034Robin Mason, Threshold, 2017, acrylic on paper, 175 x 240 cm and Black Forest Lake, 2017, acrylic on paper, four wineglasses, 65 x 42 x 15 cm. Photo courtesy of Johannes Wende.

 

4 (2)Robin Mason, Constellation : Konstellation, 2018, installation view

 

3 (1)Robin Mason, Constellation : Konstellation, 2018, installation view

 

2 (1)Robin Mason, Constellation : Konstellation, 2018, installation view

 

As so often with Robin Mason’s work, what first strikes the unaware visitor is its sheer exuberance. The busy installation of works on paper, drawings, paintings and sculpture that is made specifically for GiG Munich, is no different. We enter to a riot of colour, where vibrant oranges, acid yellows, baby pinks and sky blues all vie for our attention. Where there is no colour, a mass of lines takes over, forming waves and swirly patterns – dots and dashes cover any spare surface. Anthropomorphic forms rise up from the ground and grow through and between other forms, twisting around open books or vignettes that give us little views to somewhere else, tree covered landscapes, doorways, windows, more flowers and plants. Pierced by arrows or covered by cloth these forms have an erotic language of their own, some phallic, some clearly female in their appearance. Just when it seems we are able to find some familiar ground, the scale shifts suddenly. Large forms become small and things far away, close by. We find the night sky, reduced in its vastness, low down on the floor, its image only visible from behind and in a mirror.

The work’s exuberance is combined with so many references that it is easy to lose track. Some of these, like those to kitschy Bavarian souvenirs or to the Isenheim Alterpiece, would be familiar to a German audience, others are known to the artist only. Speaking to Mason one hears stories of earlier trips to Germany, of towns visited because of a book once read, of the disappointment of finding the Black Forest, not black but green, and of glasses, all four from a set, that belonged to his parents. The direct reference for the show is the 1609 painting Flight to Egypt by Adam Elsheimer, considered to be the first accurate depiction of the night sky in the Renaissance period.

Hovering above the exhibition is what could be seen as the eye of God and this is perhaps our entry point into the work. For God here, despite the numerous references to North European Christianity, is a Dionysian God, presiding over a world of the will to power, a world of forces and affects, and of the various powers that make up Life. That libidinal drives, both positive and negative, are at work in Mason’s practice is a fact acknowledged by other commentators, who noted that the pleasure apparent in Mason’s paintings tends to give way to feelings of anxiety and dread. I would say that in this exhibition, we enter a sphere in which each element casts influence on another, again positive and negative.   But the trick that Mason conveys so well is of affirmation. As Spinoza, Nietzsche and Deleuze have shown, to affirm brings joy and joy brings us closer to God. In this way, the “constellation” of the title stands for as much the night sky as for the crown of stars, the Corona Borealis, which Dionysus gifted Ariadne and tossed into the heavens.

Magdalena Wisniowska 2018

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Robin Mason

Constellation : Konstellation, 2.02.2018

 

Constellation front

 

Eröffnung: Freitag 2. Februar, 18- 21 Uhr

Ausstellungsdauer: 2. Februar – 2. März 2018

Öffnungszeiten: Dienstag – Donnerstag, 15 – 18 Uhr

Bitte nach Vereinbarung unter contact@gig-munich.com

Finissage: Freitag 2. März 2018, 19 – 21 Uhr

 


 

GiG is delighted to be the first gallery in Munich to present the work of British painter, Robin Mason.

Robin Mason (br. 1958, Porthcawl, Wales) is best known for his transcriptive work, with unyielding obsession centred on a few key art historical pieces, most notably by Böcklin and Grünewald. Over the course of his long career he continually revisited these works, spurred on by the intensity of his first encounter with them. His painting practice can be understood as a response to the conflicting impulses he discovered when meditating on their allure, a secret place where religion is bound with erotic iconographic symbols, and pleasure with anxiety and dread. In his own paintings, so exuberant in their attention to detail and graphic design, the humour and charm of the imagery is kept in check by the darkness of their references. Stylistically, his paintings owe as much to Carol Durham as to Magritte.

For his show at GiG Munich Robin Mason has produced a new body of work. In his painting installation Constellation : Konstellation, he seeks to reclaim the fear and excitement of his 1968 childhood trip across Germany. The motive for this particular journey into past experiences is the night sky with its constellation of stars, first accurately depicted in 1609 by Adam Elsheimer in his painting, Flight to Egypt.

Lou Jaworski

 “Nothing” work list

 

fullsizeoutput_1c5cLou Jaworski, Hyper Figure standing, 2017, ferrite magnet, dimensions variable

 

fullsizeoutput_1c5dLou Jaworski, Hyper Figure lying, 2017, ferrite magnet, dimensions variable

 

fullsizeoutput_1c5eLou Jaworski, Untitled, 2017, iron meteorite, brass pencil. 14 x 0,8 x 0,8 cm

 

fullsizeoutput_1c5fLou Jaworski, Untitled, 2017, iron meteorite, brass pencil. 14 x 0,8 x 0,8 cm (detail)

 

fullsizeoutput_1c60Lou Jaworski, Untitled, 2017, sewing needle, gold 7 cm

 

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Lou Jaworski, Presence (silent version) 2017, vinyl 12 inch, edition of 2+1 AP

 

All images courtesy of the artist.

Lou Jaworski

“Nothing” exhibition text

 

The work Lou Jaworski shows at GiG Munich operates in a context, which could be understood in Speculative Realist terms. The “Nothing” of the exhibition title refers not so much to the sparse, almost minimal quality of the work, nor to the commonplace understanding of nihilism as the questioning of the worth of existence, but rather to the definition given by Ray Brassier. He presents nothing as a consequence of the realist conviction that there is a reality independent from us, oblivious to the values and meanings we ascribe to it. In Jaworski’s work, “nothing” is taken as a speculative opportunity, to show thinking has other interests than those circling ceaselessly around man.

For the exhibition Jaworski presents a number of small objects, all of which refer to the otherworldly – to something outside the bounds of human experience. The human hand is absent from the magnet sculpture, which has formed from its own accord. A pencil has filling made of meteorite dust, first formed together with our solar system, well before the beginning of man. These objects act as indexes for the non-relational, in that they contain elements, which we, as the thinking human subject, cannot experience. Quentin Meillassoux would describe these as “arche-fossils,” in that they contain traces, not of past life forms, but of a time prior to the emergence of life.

As such, the work welds the same power the arche-fossil has, in that it questions the kind of correlationist thinking characteristic of critical philosophy, where reality is considered never in-itself, but always in relation to us. To begin thinking reality in-itself Meillassoux proposes the principle of absolute contingency, meaning, the arbitrary and radically unpredictable of transformation of things from one moment to the next. Likewise, all the objects in the exhibition feature this radical sense of transformation. What is ever slightly so wondrous about Jaworski’s work is that one does not know where it might lead. Beyond the human, yes, but also beyond what can be expected. The gleaming structure of a display unit is disrupted by spilt water; a pencil contains traces of the early universe; gold can be found in the eye of a needle. Contingency is approaching an object and not knowing where it might take you.

Magdalena Wisniowska 2017