Internal Logic

 

“At Kelly Richardson’s show ‘Legion’ at the NGCA in Sunderland we are presented with a number of major landscape works. Very quickly we become aware that these worlds operate under their own internal logic. For example in works such as ‘Exiles of the Shattered Star’ (2006) meteors fall from the sky like rain. In ‘The Erudition’ (2010) we are presented with a lunar-like landscape; across the terrain holographic trees flicker into and out of life. In this piece time seems to be elastic, the landscape is primordial (as it is elsewhere in the show) but the trees specifically suggest an unrealised future. Is there no such thing as a ‘real’ tree in this world’ Is it impossible to grow here’ If artists are generous in their visions then this is where the facade of Godlikeness will fade. It is the space that they leave for us where we can begin to add our own readings of what is going on. The strength of Richardson’s work is that the reasoning is left up to us….”

“Richardson continues these ideas in her major new commission ‘Mariner 9’ (2012) currently on display at Whitley Bay’s historic Spanish City Dome. This stunning 12 metre-long panoramic installation, depicts a dark vision of Mars. Here we find the landscape littered with the detritus, or more like, the dying, prostate bodies of previous explorer craft, twitching in their last moments of life. Presumably the current probe, ‘Curiosity’ will join this ‘elephants’ graveyard’ of human exploration. Again there is no reason given for the demise of these machines; it is up to us to decide if it was a Martian fight-back or a failed attempted at colonisation of the red planet. In a sense these attempted explorations, the desire to extend human knowledge (and therefore power), are Godlike attempts to capture information – to become all-knowing. But as Kelly suggests in this work, we are not gods; we are human, weak, full of hubris. But here, where the facade and the attempt to control our world falls away, it leaves a space for the unknown or unplanned to emerge.”

Text: James Smith, Mariner 9 and Legion by Kelly Richardson, This Is Tomorrow.

Pic: Kelly Richardson Mariner 9 

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Dead Immensity

Deeply Artificial Trees from artBoffin on Vimeo.

“Twenty million years ago Antarctica was beginning to freeze. We’ve investigated, thought and built speculations. What we believe happened was about like this.

“Something came down out of space, a ship. We saw it there in the blue ice, a thing like a submarine without a conning tower or directive vanes. 280 feet long and 45 feet in diameter at its thickest.

“Eh, Van Wall? Space? Yes, but I’ll explain that better later.” McReady’s steady voice went on.

“It came down from space, driven and lifted by forces men haven’t discovered yet, and somehow perhaps something went wrong then it tangled with Earth’s magnetic field. It came south here, out of control probably, circling the magnetic pole. That’s a savage country there, but when Antarctica was still freezing it must have been a thousand times more savage. There must have been blizzard snow, as well as drift, new snow falling as the continent glaciated. The swirl there must have been particularly bad, the wind hurling a solid blanket of white over the lip of that now buried mountain.

“The ship struck solid granite head-on, and cracked up. Not every one of the passengers in it was killed, but the ship must have been ruined, her driving mechanism locked. It tangled with Earth’s field, Norris believes. No thing made by intelligent beings can tangle with the dead immensity of a planet’s natural forces and survive.

“One of its passengers stepped out.”

Text, John W. Campbell, Who Goes There?

Video: Deeply Artificial Trees, Vimeo. “areben.com This artwork represents what it would be like for an AI to watch Bob Ross on LSD (once someone invents digital drugs). It shows some of the unreasonable effectiveness and strange inner workings of deep learning systems. The unique characteristics of the human voice are learned and generated as well as hallucinations of a system trying to find images which are not there.”

Targeting Jupiter’s Icy Moon

“Targeting Jupiter’s icy moon, Europa, this expansive sculpture exhibition offers an unprecedented view into Tom Sachs’ extraordinary artistic output and advances his quest to find extraterrestrial life with bricolaged sculptures. The exhibition will fill YBCA with everything his astronauts need to successfully complete their voyage—including the Mobile Quarantine Facility, Mission Control, the Apollo-era Landing Excursion Module (LEM), and special equipment for conducting scientific experiments—immersing the audience in a universe of sculpture occupying the entire downstairs galleries in addition to YBCA’s public spaces. Space Program: Europa will feature live activations of the Europa flight plan by Sachs’ astronauts during the opening and closing weekends. In these demonstrations, the astronauts will showcase the rituals and procedures of their mission, including the cultural export of chanoyu, the ancient art of the tea ceremony.

“Tom Sachs (b. 1966, New York) is a New York–based sculptor known for his work inspired by icons of modernism and design. Using modest studio materials, Sachs creates parallel universes incorporating semi-functional sculpture, sometimes deployed by the artist and his studio assistants for interactive projects, as in Nutsy’s (2001-3) and Space Program (2007 and 2012). YBCA, San Francisco

Terratic Animism

“Terratic Animism is a project focusing on relationships between animation, animism, technology and how these influence our relationship to our surroundings. The work combines performance with video recordings of explorations of past-Utopian infrastructures in USA, combined with photography and virtual renderings of landscapes. The work was developed with support from MASS MoCA Asset for Artist program and the Danish Arts Council.”

Jakob Kudsk Steensen
Terratic Animism, 2016
Costume, spotlights, mylar, wood and video
Duration, 13min07sec
Format: 4K and 2K versions available.

Transizion

“Science is a way of thinking about reality that takes its objectivity for granted. Fiction is a way of describing reality that assumes the subjectivity of experience—for every fiction, a different way of seeing things, a different reality. The two words together contradict each other. A thing cannot be both “science” and “fiction” at the same time, any more than it can be both “reality” and “fiction.”

“We don’t talk about “reality fiction”; we talk about “realistic fiction,” literature that seems real even though we know it is fictional. But despite numerous attempts to change the name, we do talk about “science fiction.” I suspect the name evokes the central paradox of the genre; science fiction pretends to take the objectivity of the world it describes for granted, yet clearly does not describe the objective world as we know it to be. It is “scientific,” but clearly unrealistic.

“[Darko] Suvin’s “Cognitive estrangement” is the “factual reporting of fictions.” For Suvin, this has the significant effect of separating or “estranging” us from our usual assumptions about reality. “Estrangement” is Suvin’s version of Bertold Brecht’s “Verfremdung,” usually translated as “alienation.” Brecht was talking about describing familiar things as if they were unfamiliar; not quite logically, Suvin borrows the phrase to comment on how science fiction describes unfamiliar things as if they were familiar. But for Suvin the final effect is the same; by Brechtian distancing or by the unfamiliarity of science fictional worlds, we are estranged from our assumptions about reality and forced to question them.”

Text: Perry Nodelman, The Cognitive Estrangement of Darko Suvin, Children’s Literature Association Quarterly Volume 5, Number 4, Winter 1981.

Video: Transizion, Suna Celik [2013].

The Flow

The Flow (short version) from MRK on Vimeo.

“The Flow looks at the supervening layers of reality that we can observe, from quarks to nucleons to atoms and beyond. The deeper we go into the foundations of reality the more it loses its form, eventually becoming a pure mathematical conception. Layer upon layer the flow builds new codes that create new codes, each version computing a new, more complex state based on the previous one.”