blank projects: Machine Worries, Machine Hearts - 4 Oct 2012 to 27 Oct 2012
Pedro Gómez-Egaña, The Tristan Chord, 2012 (2008)
MACHINE WORRIES, MACHINE HEARTS
Pedro Gómez-Egaña (Co/De), Donna Kukama (SA), Cameron MacLeod (Ca/No), Toril Johannessen (No), James Webb (SA), Phillip Raiford Johnson (UK/SA),Magnhild Øen Nordahl (Se/No), curated by Anthea Buys
04/10/2012 - 27/10/2012
Machine Worries, Machine Hearts is a group exhibition about the possibilities of human-machine empathy. Featuring works by artists from Norway, Sweden, Colombia, South Africa, Canada and the United Kingdom, the exhibition is inspired by an ancient Chinese story.
In the fourth century B.C.E., the Chinese philosopher Zhuangzi, wrote a fable of a traveling scholar who encountered a farmer struggling to retrieve water from a well to irrigate his crops. The farmer’s toils were exacerbated by his refusal to use a simple mechanical process to extract the water. He explained his position to the scholar as follows: “I heard my teacher say that where there are machines, there are bound to be machine worries; where there are machine worries there are bound to be machine hearts. With a machine heart in your breast you’ve destroyed what was pure and simple… It’s not that I don’t know about your machine. I would be ashamed to use it!”
The farmer in this story is wary of the ways in which machines might corrupt some essentially human quality in him. This anxiety, and the territory of human-machine relations more broadly, is well-explored in science fiction and cybernetics, and also in recent exhibitions. However, in this exhibition, we take the phrases "machine worries" and "machine hearts" at face value and imagine them as real emotional states or ways of feeling. What are “machine worries”, or what might it be like for a machine to “worry”? Can we imagine our way into the “hearts” of machines?
The suggestion of machines possessing emotions is tethered to much larger questions concerning signification and communication, the mechanisms of feeling, and the idea of 'being' as a uniquely human quality. In this exhibition, different works imply processes or states such as demise, competition, confusion, expression, antagonism and affection in ways that narrow the gap between human and machine subjectivity.
Machine Worries, Machine Hearts is generously supported by the Office for Contemporary Art in Norway, the Contemporary Art Development Trust in South Africa, and blank projects.
Curated by Anthea Buys
Pedro Gómez-Egaña (b.1976, Colombia) lives and works in Oslo and Copenhagen, and has trained as a composer and visual artist at Goldsmiths College, the Bergen National Academy of Arts, and Norwegian Artistic Research Fellowship Programme.Gómez-Egaña's practice varies from sculpture to video, phonography, and site specific works that include a focus on motion and temporality. In some of his works this interest is manifest in intricate stagings where audiences can experience the transformation of sculptural bodies (Swimming Sideways). At the same time, his work is motivated by the importance of time in cultural definitions of disaster, anxiety, and catastrophe whilst actively resisting the dynamics of shock found in media culture. www.pedrogomezegana.com
James Webb (b. 1975, South Africa) has been working on large-scale installations in galleries and museums as well as unannounced interventions in public spaces since 2001. His work questions the nature of belief in our contemporary world, often using exoticism, displacement and humour to achieve these aims. He has participated in exhibitions including “This Is Now 2,” L’Appartment22 (Rabat), “Delusions Of Grandeur,” Unit B (Texas) and the 9th Biennale d’Art Contemporain de Lyon. He exhibited ONE DAY, ALL OF THIS WILL BE YOURS at blank projects in 2010, and UNTITLED in 2006. www.theotherjameswebb.com
Magnhild Øen Nordahl (b.1985, Norway) is based in Stockholm, where she is enrolled for the Masters programme at the Royal Swedish Academy of Fine Arts in Stockholm. Working primarily in sculpture, her practice draws on forms found in mining architecture in far northern Norway, as well as other forms derived from industrial and architectural structures. Recent exhibitions include Spatial Dispacements: The space in between, Tin Sheds Gallery (Biennale of Sydney-Affiliate Program), The Armory Show Annex, ACE Hotel, New York (both 2012), and a solo exhibition, Statics, at NO.5, Bergen Kunsthall (2011). www.magnhildnordahl.com
Toril Johannessen (b.1978, Norway) lives and works in Bergen, Norway. Her work explores the interstices of science and culture, and recent works focus specifically on historical relationships between physics and economics. Her work "Extraordinary Popular Delusions" was shown on dOCUMENTA 13, and other recent exhibitions include group exhibitions at Witte de With, Rotterdam (2011), the Kunsthalle Wien, Vienna (2011), and the Kunsthall Oslo and Bergen Art Museum (2010). www.toriljohannessen.no
Cameron MacLeod (b.1975, Canada) works across disciplines, creating critical works that interrogate the cultural boundaries of technology and the relationship of these to functionality, recreation, critical thought and invention. He is a founding member of the artist collective and gallery Platform in Stockholm, and he completed an Masters of Fine Art (Art in the Public Realm) at Konstfack University of Art, Craft and Design in Stockholm in 2009). www.cameronmacleod.net.
Phillip Raiford Johnson (b. 1986, South Africa) lives and works in London, where he is completing his Masters in Fine Art at Goldsmiths University. Johnson's work combines strong sculptural and graphic forms with time-based media, producing work that is strongly narrative- and event-based. He was a founding curator of the independent project space Cloak & Dagger in Johannesburg, South Africa, and has exhibited in museums and public space in Johannesburg, Cape Town and London.
Donna Kukama (b. 1981, South Africa) is a multimedia artist working in performance, video, text, and sound installations. She completed her postgraduate studies at the Ecole Cantonale d’art du Valais in Sierre (Switzerland) in 2008, under MAPS (Masters of Art in the Public Sphere). Recent exhibitions include the solo exhibition "Becoming Animal" at the Goethe-Institut, Johannesburg, and Dada South? At the Iziko South African National Gallery (2010). www.donnakukama.com
Anthea Buys is the director of the Contemporary Art Development Trust, South Africa, and a research associate at the University of Johannesburg's Visual Identities in Art and Design Research Centre. She began working on this exhibition while on a research residency at the Hordaland Kunstsenter in Bergen, Norway, in January 2012.
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