On November 24-27 I was invited to participate to the conference “Die, and become! Art and Science as Conjectured Possible”, held in Gdańsk, Poland, at Łaźnia Centre for Contemporary Art. The conference was part of an exhibition, all the events were curated by Dmitry Bulatov and coordinated by Jolanta Woszczenko. My introducing keynote was entitled “The ambiguous magnificence. Life and art between evolution and creation”.
The artists in exhibition were James Auger and Jimmy Loizeau, Dmitry ::vtol:: Morozov, Louise-Philippe Demers, Where Dogs Run: Olga Inozemtseva, Natalia Grekhova and Alexey Korzukhin, Thomas Feuerstein, Heather Dewey-Hagborg, Pedro Lopes, and Verena Friedrich.
From the introduction to all the events:
“Modern science’s attempts both to understand and overcome a whole series of laws of nature make us remember Goethe’s famous maxim, “Stirb und Werde” – die and be renewed, cease and become. Or, to put that in layman’s terms, it assumes an effort to acquire a “postbiological personology” (that is, a phenomenologically deep interpenetration of the living and the non-living, the artificial and the natural, etc.). As we know, the desire to reach it is part of all modern culture. But if this is the case, then science, as a means of making inquiries into and drawing universal conclusions about our world, apparently, pertains not only to mankind, but to the entire sphere of mankind’s prospective becoming. In that situation the spread of next-generation technologies that embody the inevitability of postbiological types of transformation create enormous possibilities for manipulating this space. The boundaries between the biological and a-biological are disappearing, a multitude of identities are being created, and our bodies are acquiring the characteristics of a constantly drifting hybrid. Emerging are new limitations on human freedom and, correspondingly, the necessity for its reevaluation. Standard traditional discourse regarding that which we perceive and what stands behind these perceptions, the relationship of consciousness to the world around us, is becoming more polemicized because the emergence of new technologies creates possibilities to construct this world on a physical level.
Modern science and the world that has come into being with its help – this is the challenge for technological art. It is apparent that the current perspectives for human existence are in many respects connected with the question of what role art and philosophy are capable of playing in the conceptualization of the created technological world and axiological orienting in this world. Each time we contemplate the latest work of art, we inevitably must ask ourselves a question about its ontological qualities in relation to the nature of the technological. Does the given concrete work of art contribute to technologically approving conditional subordination and manipulation, or does it at first affirm the version of dehumanizing reality that is unfolding before our eyes, and then subtly abolish this law, offering the viewer a more complex permutation of rules? Such a practice bears witness to the abilities of the artist – and, in the end, the viewer himself – not simply to endow technological space with cognitive or aesthetic content, but, above all, with existential one. In this manner, by demonstrating the logic of the creation of new technological forms and new identities, art articulates the primary task of the individual living in the age of new technologies: the construction of a living future (that is, a future that endows us with freedom), and not a dead, mechanized future that is being built without our participation.”
An excerpt of my presentation will be published in the proceedings, on January 2017.
Here some text:
Internet of Things implies a deep transformation in the way to manage information, in particular in design. Design is intrinsically relational: it puts in relation objects and devices among themselves, objects and devices with the environment where they are placed into and objects and devices with the people who use them. Design gives objects relation-oriented meanings and tasks: stylistic, operational, symbolic, aesthetic, functional, communicative, economic, ergonomic… However, Internet of Things requires to expand the relational dimension of design to incorporate data transit and exchange, feedback states, organizational, hierarchical and propaedeutical issues of information.
Internet of Things marks the transition from mediascape to infoscape, expanding the usual idea of design to a design more focused on processes, centered on data exchange among objects, tools and devices. It is a design of information flows, a transmedia design suitable for contemporary reality pervaded by Big Data, by information streams and Artificial Intelligence forms: an Infoscape Design.1
Infoscape Design makes functionally working together objects, devices, tools, control and feedback systems. Infoscape Design does not consider objects and devices as single and separate, but as mutually and operationally interfaced entities. Infoscape Design integrates all functions in a stream, focusing on relationships, on information sharing. This implies moving from the perspective of creating and managing sensory objects to creating and managing data streams, to finalizing information processes which are accessible by the senses only in a mediated way. This implies managing the timeline of the events, the critical issues and the data streams. More than a soloist activity, as design is often intended, Infoscape Design resembles the direction of an orchestra.
Let’s come back to the previous picture. The process outlined in this graph will not stop. Internet of Things and of Everything could become the most pervasive and effective control system of the territory ever evolved – in this case invented – by a species, since a further step will be the interconnection of natural environment. For all animal species, therefore for humans too, the inspection and control of territory are primary tasks. Internet of Things and of Everything will interconnect the artificial and natural environments pervading them with data flows and making them intimately interrelated. There are already applications which go this way: for monitoring earthquakes, weather, fires, vulcans, climate change, forests, animals’ migrations, endangered species… The control of the environment will be increasingly pervasive and sophisticated through the collaboration of digital, optical, bio-, robo- and nano- technologies. The Internet of Things and of Everything will put in opposition the legitimacy of the environment inspection with the defence of privacy.
1 See the presentation “Dal mediascape all’infoscape” (From Mediascape to Infoscape) I had at the conference “Immaginare il Futuro” (Imagine the Future), Pordenone Design Week, 15 March 2016.