Riesgo País

Exhibition Texts

These texts were made to the CryptoArg’s IRL exhibition Riesgo País presented in Newton Gallery, New York, during the NFT.NYC week in July 2022.

To know more about the exhibition, click here.

To visit Fantástico Riesgo País, the digital edition on SuperRare Space, click here.

Riesgo País

In the land of risk, those who have nothing strive to get something. Everything is suffered greatly and enjoyed intensely because nothing is guaranteed. From a physical memory of scarcity, a monumental and fragmented image is built with pieces of what is available at the moment.

There can also be found many ghosts fed with fear, hate, and grief. There is a lot of romance too. However, behind all these narratives, fictions, and realities, an economic skeleton that sustains them and gives them shape is always present.

This exhibition ventures into a relationship with reality, between its fictionalized construction and the material conditions that bring it about. A circuit that imposes itself as reality is produced in the journalistic discourses on finance, in the repetition of words in economic narratives. Creating in an unstable context, with the privilege of living in other narratives, we have the possibility to reflect on this burden imposed by the media.

We start by exploring an economic index that is broadcasted in Argentinian news alongside the weather. It does not have an obvious meaning for most people but suggests that a crisis can be triggered at any minute. In the story that connects the artworks, we can find this message latently emerging from their symbolic fields.

The pieces presented tune into a profoundly poetic sense. The opportunity to continue to exist beyond the impossible is inscribed in the resulting lyric. A feeling hangs on a delicate balance, on the verge of the broken, with the aim of losing its form to inhabit the ruin of the ruin of the ruin.

Merlina Rañi, 2022.

Germinal Creatures

Astrosuka, Basseado, Candie, Joaquina Salgado, Kaswez, K0ch&NadArt, Luran, mardeformas, Sofja, VXN.

Somewhere, a world succumbs constantly. It collapses, ending in another that begins to emerge. We do not quite know what role destruction has in this cycle or whether violence is necessary at the end of things. Still, it is true that drama is often a way to produce meaning and that meaning is capable of generating value. While new economic narratives are being constructed, in the worlds that are both being born and dying, new forms of life emerge where they were not supposed to. 

Artificial and yet wild, totally unsuspected and deformed, these germinal creatures are the specimens of an abandoned laboratory. Diverse in origin, order, and logic, capable of thriving in the exoticism of time and space or of being in the fleetingness of an instant, they survive in the slightest possibility and exist beyond thought. 

What kind of organism will ignite the next spark? What can we become by surviving?

Merlina Rañi, 2022.

Curation: Merlina Rañi
Creative Direction: VXN (Victoria Campobello), The Internet Office, Facundo Suasnabar
Installation Design: Faktor, The Internet Office, VXN.
Management and Production: CryptoArg
Graphic design: Estudio Hummus
Sponsor: MOCA and Infinite Objects.

Riesgo País

Textos de exposición

Estos Textos fueron producidos para la exposición física Riesgo País de CryptoArg, presentada en julio de 2022, en Newton Gallery, New York, en el marco de la semana de NFT.NYC.

Para saber más sobre la muestra, ver Riesgo País en curaduría.

Para ver el relato creado para el Space de CryptoArg en SuperRare, ver acá.

RIESGO PAÍS

En la tierra del riesgo el que no tiene nada se afana por conseguirlo, todo se sufre y se disfruta –según corresponda– con intensidad, porque nada está garantizado. Existe una memoria física de la escasez, y desde esa premisa se construye una imagen monumental y fragmentada, con los pedazos de lo disponible, con lo que hay en el momento.

También hay muchos fantasmas que viven del temor, el odio y la pena, y muchísimo romance. Aunque detrás de todas esas narrativas, ficciones o realidades, siempre hay un esqueleto económico que las sostiene y que a su vez les da forma.

Esta exposición se aventura en esa relación entre la realidad, su construcción ficcionada y las cuestiones materiales que la propician. En el discurso de un periodismo financiado, en la repetición de sus palabras y de sus narrativas económicas, se produce un circuito que se impone como realidad. Desde un contexto de producción inestable, y con el privilegio de cambiar de perspectiva, surge la posibilidad de reflexionar sobre esa imposición.

Partimos de la idea de explorar un índice económico que es difundido en los medios argentinos junto con el clima y que para la mayor parte de la gente no significa nada muy concreto, pero da a entender que la crisis puede dispararse en cualquier minuto. Con la intención de ver en la trama de las obras, el reflejo de este mensaje de fondo en su aspecto simbólico y sensible. 

Las obras presentadas, sintonizan en un profundo sentido poético, y en su lírica se inscribe la oportunidad de seguir existiendo más allá de lo imposible. En un equilibrio muy delicado, al borde de lo roto, con la finalidad de perder la forma para lograr habitar la ruina de la ruina de la ruina.

Merlina Rañi, 2022.

Criaturas Germinales

Astrosuka, Basseado, Candie, Joaquina Salgado, Kaswez, K0ch&NadArt, Luran, mardeformas, Sofja, VXN.

Constantemente en algún lugar, un mundo sucumbe, colapsa y se acaba en otro que empieza a surgir. No sabemos bien cuál es el rol de la destrucción dentro de este ciclo, si acaso es necesaria la violencia en el fin de las cosas, pero es cierto que el drama es una forma conocida para producir sentido y que el sentido es capaz de generar valor. Mientras se construyen nuevas narrativas económicas, entre los mundos que nacen y mueren, surgen nuevas formas de vida dónde no se suponía. 

Artificiales y a su vez silvestres, totalmente insospechadas y deformes, estas criaturas germinales son especímenes en un laboratorio abandonado. Diversos en su origen, orden y lógica, capaces de prosperar en lo éxotico del tiempo y del espacio, o de ser plenamente en la fugacidad del instante, sobreviven en la mínima posibilidad y existen más allá del pensamiento. 

¿Qué tipo de organismo encenderá la próxima chispa? ¿En qué podemos transformarnos al sobrevivir?

Merlina Rañi, 2022.

Curaduría: Merlina Rañi
Dirección Creativa: VXN (Victoria Campobello), The Internet Office, Facundo Suasnabar
Diseño de Instalación: Faktor, The Internet Office, VXN.
Diseño Gráfico: Estudio Hummus
Producción y Gestión: CryptoArg
Apoyo: MoCA y Infinite Objects

From Optical Ilusion to Simulation

This text was produced to accompany a drop exhibition by Eduardo Pla at Aura Art, a selection of works (between the 80’s and 2000) made between Espacio Pla and Aura Art to generate the first release of NFT’s by the multimedia artist.

From optical ilusion to simulation

Eduardo Pla was an artist with a very broad trajectory, which makes him an interesting case to understand media and digital art in Argentina. With 40 years of career, he went through different scenarios that -from the general to the particular- were key to this specialty in art. From his early years he experimented in film, he devoted to cinema, he portrayed the underground scene of Buenos Aires at the end of the 60´s, he worked as theatre director; he lived and grew as an artist at a time when acceleration and change were manifested in a convulsive political period and in the exponential advances of technology.

During the 1980´s he worked as a designer and art director in Milan. When digital tools began to take root in design, he was part of the first group of artists with access to the equipment and the technical knowledge necessary to experiment with those new technologies. Since then, he became interested in virtuality, in the creation of a non-space, the possibility of simulating, in working with the idea of space and volume, of inhabiting that new way of representing virtuality -as a field of what is possible- with forms, depth and symbols to build an imaginary stemming from the potentiality and the limitations of technology.

Virtuality also became a plastic space to explore artistic concerns that were present since his initial works: the possibility of displacing symbols and relationships in representation, of recontextualizing, of creating a world within another. A world governed by subjectivity, by fantasy and, above all, by the ideal.

The selection of works in this exhibition represents that search through time. Although the basis of the work has shifted from illusion to simulation or its medium from exposure to calculation, there persists an intention to give space to fantasy from visuality, as a level of existence, as a reality close to the tangible.

Eduardo Pla was an artist dedicated to building a symbolic field on virtually, to creating from representation something that today we can incorporate as experience, and at least discuss as apprehensive reality. At the same time, his constant exploration of new tools built an eclectic body of work with playful and experimental nature.

This short tour through his work allows us to discover some factors that influenced the construction of a digital aesthetic, and that today offer us clues to understand its origin and interpret the new phenomena that are emerging in its evolution.

Merlina Rañi, 2021.

Cache Tragedy

This essay text was produced for Julian Brangold‘s series of pieces called Cache Tragedy, as part of a featuring on SuperRare. It was published on August 25 (2021), as a presentation of the NFT’s of the series.

THE TRAGEDY OF ORDER

Chaos at the Center of the Scale

Time is, amongst other things, a matter of perspective. The possibility of understanding it as a duration or in a projected line, of where it is coming from and where it is going, that which is happening in the present moment and henceforth, is hard to interpret.

Now, in this series of works by Julian Brangold, the line traced between a remote tradition like art and the present becomes quite clear, something that manifests through the discourse of the image, in the worked materialities or in the material exercise. Greek sculpture appears as a symbol of tradition but also as a symbol of humanism, or even as a symbol of the human as the center of the universe. Nevertheless, it is not possible to relate the image of these sculptures to a particular narrative: the material exercise empties the figure of its historical content to question its structural and formal aspects.

To the incompleteness of the sculpture in a situation of ruin, the lack of information produced by the digitalization of the image and its volume is added: the ruin is duplicated in the process of defective scanning. Despite this, for all its lack of detail and gradations, something is transmitted, and that which is missing is also part of the image’s discourse. It can be seen as incomplete because it has been digested, first by time, and after, by its digitalization.

Maybe we can suspect that in one image we see the figure of Artemisa, or in another the representation of Apollo, but is what we perceive when we see a Greek sculpture? Does the myth behind the image persist in these so widely spread images? Or are they more of an aesthetic and ideological modelization of the concept of the human? What persists in these models, besides their temporal erosion, of having been replicated imperfectly, digested technologically, scanned?

Six _ Julian Brangold, 2021.

The image of the human crumbles without the possibility nor desire of an established model of universal humanity, leaving almost all human specimens outside of it. There exists a questioning at the root of the concept of the human, a desacralization of the human’s standardized values that does not necessarily imply their opposites but instead a need to overcome them, in the sense that they cannot be fulfilled, but also in a lack of representation that supposes an ideal that is as beautiful as it is virtual.

In Julian’s work, we see disassembled images that are in movement, that cannot be anchored to a particular instant or place, that symbolize ubiquity, fragmentation, decomposition while maintaining their accord with the classical in the tragedy of the broken.

We could risk inferring that what persists is just that, the tragedy or the catastrophe as an inflection point that gives space for creation and for the phenomenon. When we trace a perspective and prospective line over art (perhaps as a graphic gesture of humanity), there exists a past on which we build, on which we project, and it is no longer possible to think of chaos as an origin, because chaos is so far away that it is hard to imagine it stripped of its negative connotations. Maybe what was once chaos, tinted by a long tradition of tragedy, is turned into catastrophe. We are preceded by a large number of failures and successes from which we ask questions, and maybe one of the strongest ones is about our own nature and the paradox of building such an excluding category to define ourselves. The concept of the human falls apart; today it is possible to see its supremacist matrix hidden behind its altruistic premises.

From the tension of order over chaos and the harmony that emerges from that tension, something persists but changes its balance. And in these mutating times of short spans, chaos is arranged at the center of the scale,[1] and catastrophe appears as a counterposition to order in a dialectic that relates them intimately until they are melded in some of their features.

Maybe it becomes necessary today to speak of a tragedy of order.


Scan the World. The Fundamentally Broken Episteme

Like how it is believed that a photo can steal a soul, there is a certain fascination and mistrust in the idea of scanning the whole world that has emerged in the last few years with the advancement of scanning devices and photogrammetry. The feeling that the image is captured in a little box, even though it is not well-founded, appears.

At the same time, there is a general intention––of anthropological tendency––to generate an archive that documents the existence of everything. Or simply, the idea that nothing is lost. But the fact is that something is always lost, and it seems like the voracity of this intention is a participant in the root of this incompleteness.

As Chronos ate his children to prevent his fateful destiny, humanity digests its products, transforms them into files, and tries to store everything. In the specific case of scanning the world (be it in the Scan The World initiative or in the Epic Games project), the formal axis is placed in the encoding volume, while the intention is to preserve and democratize access and to generate a digital double of everything that has ever been built to be able to order it into categories that respond to a particular episteme, to a way of organizing the known to encompass it. But what happens with these files, what can we do with all that has been digitally digested, how can we process it, use it, incorporate it? The volume of information that implies “the world” becomes astronomical and overwhelming.

In his artworks, Julian works with scans of Greco-Roman sculptures, with a simulation of their volumes that corresponds to their formal aspects, while relating this artistic tradition (the bond with the material, the socio-political context of a moment belonging to the ideal human figure) to the modelization itself of 3D language, which basically problematizes how to represent the third dimension in a second one.

These files of public ownership are digitally manipulated, broken in the gesture of their own subjectivity, of their perspective as an individual of their time, with the intention of expanding the category and encompassing the complexity of the human today, because the problem with categories is that nothing and no one fits completely into them as they are formulated into strict conventions, molded within the ideology of a particular system.

Today we find ourselves at an apparently critical point to overcome a modern idiosyncrasy, in the revision of all of the concepts that for a very long time were influencing and indisputable but that today look deformed and insufficient.

So, in his implementation, Julian takes the scans of these sculptures and disarms them to obtain his components, to encounter the nutrients of what has been digitally captured, to survey that which keeps being replicated. And in this emotional bond that emerges from this aesthetics, nostalgia appears as a discursive resource for what is nothing more than romance.

The fantasy of controlling and ordering through category and modelization is diluted and gives us back chaos, an ocean of data where it is essential to learn how to swim.


Techno Tekné

There is an axis of extreme importance throughout these works that puts itself in relation to gradients of degradation. For one thing, a series of purely digital resources are presented, tools through which it is possible to create the perfect gradient or a serialized form of multiplication that would be very hard to achieve otherwise. These resources that characterize digital language are used to decompose what is established: the codified canon of the sculpture’s figures.

Like a factor of incidence in posterity, the presence of grids and other states of the digital model also add to the intention of a decomposition that is established between model and modelization. Through this working of the formal and structural aspect of the sculptures, several links to what these forms project are proposed: links with the greek imaginary and the values it denotes, but also with the different ways in which they were incorporated and utilized throughout history for the construction of the human ideals of aesthetics, harmony, and beauty.

With such a graphical notion of the projection generated from these sculptures, it becomes inevitable to wonder about what art is projecting today, how we are modeling an image of an incipient future. If the characters of the original sculptures were shown through a strength over the materials, in the softness of the form constructed through a hard component, in the materialization of an ideal, of deities and heroes, in the technical advancement that presupposes a playing with gravity to sustain in static gesture a moving body; today, the axis is in an ingenuity, in the revealing of the matrix, in the decomposition of a holistic program and the renovated reconnection of its parts, which, as they are dualities, are recomposed through complexity. But overall, the sculpture’s character is found in the virtuality of the act of projecting.

The texture work and cartoon illustration aesthetics are material resources that qualify their digital character, they soften it to build a bridge with artistic tradition, as if the modification of the facial expressions in certain cases builds a step through a contemplative and parsimonious gaze in order to imprint a power and control that depersonifies the entities.

In this relationship between gradients and degradation, a dynamic of equilibrium is played out between the grotesque and the monstrous, the beautiful and the human, that is represented as much in the elements previously mentioned as in the color palettes that oscillate between the delicate and the aggressive. From each of these aspects, the image seems to transmit a tension with something that is constantly calibrating itself to reach the center of the scale and thus perhaps go back to touch ground zero––or to find a primal chaos. But this still holds a retrospective character.

And in this act of referencing and relating, a base is established on which the ruins of modernity follow a line in which there is always something that comes before the previous one, a Creatio ex ruina[2] logic.

Merlina Rañi, 2021.


[1] Paul Klee, Theory of Modern Art, Cactus, Bs. As., 2007, page 55.

[2] A modification of the latin expressions Creatio ex nihilo (“out of nothing”) or Creatio ex materia (from matter) to establish a system in the origin of creation and existence It alludes to the question of where things come from or where the tale begins. 


Ejercicios de interpretación II: Ficción informática

Este texto fue producido en el marco de una muestra de Azul De Monte y Mateo Amaral, presentada en Espacio Pla del 12 de mayo al 2 de julio de 2016.

Sobre la muestra

Ejercicios de interpretación fue una curaduría desarrollada en dos módulos, que reflexionó entorno a conceptos como la teoría de la información y  complejidad, con el objetivo de desentrañar la poética de la pieza digital. Ficción informática, representó el segundo módulo y abordó el trabajo de dos artistas que producen desde la animación y el lenguaje pictórico.

Ejercicio curatorial

Texto de exposición

Ejercicios de interpretación es un trabajo curatorial en dos módulos, que busca indagar caminos y herramientas para abarcar manifestaciones contemporáneas en Arte digital. En el módulo II, se presentan trabajos de Azul De Monte y Mateo Amaral, dos artistas que se vinculan desde una poética establecida en el diálogo entre la composición digital y la pictórica. 

Sus obras digitales se desarrollan mediante softwares de animación, conjuntos de programas que operan bajo una interfaz con el propósito de ofrecer una herramienta intuitiva para la producción digital, diseñados originalmente para simular técnicas plásticas y que a su vez están ligados por tradición, a la construcción de narrativas (cine, video-games, cartoon, etc.). La relación inevitable entre herramienta y poética, genera en estos dos casos, procesos de trabajo en función de ficciones que se nutren de descubrimientos científicos, reflexiones ontológicas y teorías personales, pero que están pautadas por una lógica informática.

Mateo Amaral propone una serie en la que indaga sobre la conciencia de las plantas, para construir desde su propio imaginario algún acercamiento al tema. Su observación parte de la única conciencia que él conoce, la humana, para detectar la diferencia sustancial entre el organismo de su especie y el de las plantas, la fotosíntesis. En la base de este proceso encuentra las claves para su construcción narrativa: los elementos básicos que las plantas consumen y sintetizan, las moléculas de carbono, los azúcares que generan, los fotones que activan su proceso, enmarcan un tipo de metabolismo que él compara con un lenguaje de programación bajo, directo al hardware, más cercano al lenguaje abstracto del universo que el nuestro, libre de filtros conceptuales o racionales.

Mientras Zoom In, nos introduce capa por capa en esta estructura molecular, la serie Vegetal nos acerca a la línea sensible de esta narrativa, y en su conjunto construyen el panorama general de una ficción, situada en la abstracción del silencio y la eternidad universal.

La narrativa en las obras de Azul De Monte, se ubica en los nuevos descubrimientos sobre el modelo de universo y su incidencia sobre nuestra noción de cultura y humanidad. Inspirada en la búsqueda del Bosón de Higgs, una partícula subatómica determinante para la construcción del modelo estándar de física de partículas,  De Monte hace sus propias preguntas, mezclando la información dura con lo que ésta le dispara al nivel de la fantasía: ¿qué es lo que percibiríamos si fuésemos capaces de observar desde un único plano cenital, todo el tiempo colapsado en un mismo punto? 

A partir de esta pregunta y en el lenguaje de sus bases teóricas, surge en las obras la noción del fin material de la cultura humana dada en el seno del colapso, tal vez producto de un orden aleatorio de la física (como propone la teoría del Multiverso) donde lo que realmente permanece es información abstracta,  en la que para encontrarnos deberíamos recurrir a una especie de arqueología de la información.

La serie completa se desarrolla en una estética sintética y pop, de planos y colores vibrantes que oculta la estructura encriptada de información y conocimientos sobre los que trata, con la intención de llegar a conocer ese lugar donde se pierde el borde de la dicotomía, al que los nuevos descubrimientos apuntan.

En una línea que va de lo plástico a lo digital, encontramos que en el lenguaje de la narrativa, prevalece la semántica de los signos que las obras presentan y ésta es una clave fundamental para entender y abarcar su naturaleza.  Sin embargo influenciadas por la lógica digital, por el lenguaje oculto bajo la interfaz, acaban por generar un llamado al código subyacente de su funcionalidad. Es así como la comunicación entre disciplinas que caracteriza a estas obras, formula desde la narrativa misma una lógica que deja entrever el tramado interno que posibilita la ejecución de las herramientas utilizadas, abriendo el juego de su lenguaje a las reglas de una ficción informática.

Derrumbe

Este texto fue producido para una muestra de Juan Sorrentino, presentada del 21 de octubre al 17 de noviembre de 2016 en Acéfala Galería.

Sobre Derrumbe

Fue una exposición individual de Juan Sorrentino con la curaduría de Merlina Rañi y Cristian Espinoza, que implicó una residencia de 6 semanas del artista en la galería, en la cuál se fueron produciendo experimentos que dieron por resultado dos instalaciones: la construcción de un muro sonoro (Derrumbe) y su devenir en polvo (Polvareda).

Ejercicio curatorial

Texto de exposición

Dos muros, tejidos por alambre, propagan la resonancia en un doble fondo de superficie y profundidad matérica. Éstos, ahora tejidos en unidad, constituyen un relato, que como un borde polariza lo visible, divide lo que es posible contar de lo que no.

Su origen está en la materialización de una reflexión interna durante el proceso artístico, en el que Sorrentino se somete a la exigencia de la materia y su resistencia, en un gesto monolítico y escultórico que se sucede en instancias: la superficie plástica, la materia cruda, el sonido como acción telúrica.

Ahora un frente mudo oculta lo que por desconocido se presenta monstruoso, la transformación gradual que nos habita, en constante comunicación con el inconsciente. Bajo varias capas de superficie un sismo plástico actúa sobre la materia, quizás atente contra ella y llegue a la desintegración, conquistando finalmente la fluidez del medio. Por otro lado, la posibilidad de que el muro no exista o deje de existir, un espacio mental donde esta limitación no tiene lugar, donde se presenta como acción imaginaria: nunca hubo un territorio definido, el muro es una ilusión o esquizofrenia que se concreta. Donde el muro es polvo, no forma ni limita y los signos flotan.

La Faz de la Tierra

La faz de la tierra fue una exposición de obras de Eduardo Pla exhibida entre mayo y diciembre del 2018, en Espacio Pla, donde se presentó un reboot de la video-instalación Videomundo Virtual, a partir de una convocatoria internacional sobre la Globalización y la distancia entre dos momentos de la historia: 1995 y 2018.

Texto de sala

La carrera de Eduardo Pla comenzó con la experimentación audiovisual. Desde muy joven, dado en parte a las circunstancias de una escena artística en auge y en parte a una tradición familiar que lo vinculaba a la tecnología, tuvo un acceso especial a los medios cinematográficos. Entre 1968 y 1978 produjo un largometraje, cortos, piezas en formatos experimentales e incluso una obra de teatro, en los cuales retrataba el espíritu y problemáticas de la época.

A partir de su residencia fuera del país en plena dictadura, abandona el lenguaje de la narrativa y se encuentra con medios de producción de un enfoque más técnico, relacionados al movimiento de Computer Graphics, algo que si bien no era inaccesible, todavía cargaba con su naturaleza de laboratorio. Esa nueva forma de concebir y proyectar imágenes, lo enfrentó con las estructuras de una virtualidad que prometía consolidarse prontamente. 

En un momento en el que empezaba a aplicarse el uso de herramientas digitales con fines industriales y comerciales, y a su vez surgía la filosofía y cultura cyberpunk, Pla se forma como Director de arte y se dedica por completo a explorar ese espacio virtual que ofrecía la posibilidad de prescindir de la materia. Es entonces que se gestan los dos ejes más fuertes en su obra: la posibilidad de habitar un espacio virtual y la figura simbólica de la esfera.

Sin profundizar en la exploración estética y formal que desarrolló en el resto de su carrera y del significado espiritual de la esfera en sí (que ya han sido motivo de otras retrospectivas), el enfoque de La faz de la Tierra apunta a la convergencia del concepto de virtualidad y la figura de la esfera, que resulta en un imago inminente para ese entonces: el de una cosmovisión mediada por la imagen técnica.

Algunos años más tarde durante la década del 90, la ciberutopía de Internet y los programas de la Globalización, se instalan como dos grandes paradigmas y originan una serie de imaginarios que a partir del 2000 entre crisis empiezan a consolidarse, y que hoy ya nos resultan cotidianos.

Esta selección de obras tiene la intención de suscitar una reflexión entorno a la incidencia de los escenarios y programas mencionados en la psique humana y en la subjetividad social, a través de un pequeño recorrido por esos distintos estadíos de transformación en sus obras, que culmina en el ejercicio de rearmar y replantear la instalación Videomundo Virtual.

Ejercicio curatorial

La respuesta de los dioses

Texto producido para la exposición La respuesta de los dioses de Diego Alberti en Laboratorio (Festival) presentada por Espacio Pla, del 22 de agosto al 12 de septiembre de 2018.

Sobre La respuesta de los dioses de Diego Alberti

La obra consiste en un mural realizado a modo de telar artesanal de leds programados.

Es de noche y todo está oscuro.

Un telar de semiconductores expresa un algoritmo, continuamente. Un jeroglífico que se imprime en la retina, luego implica un proceso de fototransducción. Tal vez nunca se repite, la velocidad hace que lo único y lo repetido pierdan sus contornos.

En un balance entre súper producción e inhibición de hormonas, el sujeto que recibe el pulso de información, sigue con su mundana vida. Y aunque por fuera mantiene la rutina, su sistema nervioso de vez en cuando entra en crisis.

En su esquizofrenia (para nada notoria externamente), el algoritmo imprime la siguiente fantasía:

Un hallazgo arqueológico arroja indicios de que los conocimientos de las antiguas civilizaciones y los más recientes logros de la nanotecnología, comparten una raíz común.

Gracias a los nuevos instrumentos de observación, pudieron detectarse vestigios de circuitos en los muros de una sala subterránea perteneciente a una antigua civilización perdida, que data del año 3000 a.c., en el actual territorio de Taiwán. A través de un minucioso análisis químico, pudo constatarse que los materiales empleados poseen propiedades conductivas. Extraños objetos fueron hallados en el recinto. Se ha demostrado que poseen propiedades muy similares a las de componentes electrónicos como diodos e incluso transistores.

Mientras los científicos se preguntan cómo puede haber tenido lugar un desarrollo tecnológico de esta índole en la antigüedad, un equipo compuesto por arqueólogos y técnicos informáticos formula que el increíble sistema hallado en la sala, podría tratarse de un telar de información, y los más audaces se atreven a sospechar vínculos con extraterrestres.

Una serie de imágenes que refuerza el relato; fin aparente de la fantasía.

Más que un jeroglífico es su estructura la que se imprime otra vez: el mensaje es una forma sin secreto y a la vez indescifrable.

La información sigue corriendo frente a las retinas del sujeto. Una absurda visualización de procesos infinitesimales le da espesor a esta mitología del millón en la que basa todo su afán de interpretación.

En un estado de compromiso con la real realidad, se pregunta : ¿cuál es el mensaje de todas las pantallas? ¿Existe un patrón detrás de la imagen representada que se comunica con el inconsciente? ¿O solo se trata de una montaña de datos que se acumulan y se seguirán acumulando mientras dure la energía?

Two computers playing Pong

This text proposes a reflection based on the installation Two computers playing Pong by Diego Alberti, exhibited in the Artificially Intelligent at the Victoria & Albert Museum from a collaboration between the festival + CODE and the british museum, within the framework of Digital Design Weekend 2018 in London. The text is part of the printed publication.

About Two computers playing Pong

The installation consists of a system composed of two computers of identical capacities, arranged to compete against each other through a system of servos that drive their joysticks.

Two computers playing Pong _ Diego Alberti

Two computers play Pong. Their computing power considerably surpasses the requirements for this old video game (the first to achieve commercial success). By the time the first ball is played, the match has already been defined; within this abstract dimension, it is nothing but a linear equation: the angle at which the ball will bounce is equal to the angle at which it originally hit. Everything else is a simulation, a projection through time and space. Different possibilities having been analyzed, there is always one answer, and what could be a potentially infinite match is limited to the available memory capacity.

The scope that this artistic gesture entails might be deemed absurd. It is hard not to consider this situation ludicrous; yet it constitutes in itself the possibility of competing against each other. This otherness, embodied by machines, gives way to the dilemma of a game in which there are no winners nor anything to win.   

On the one hand, Two computers playing Pong presents us with a way of analyzing the nature of a computer. Besides encompassing notions such as autonomy, learning, intelligence or conscience (which indicate complexity), this computer-art installation uses an extremely simplified system to trigger the formulation of questions. In the first place, it shows what a computer can do when only a minimum of its potential is in use; all of this with the aim of gathering characteristic behavior and poetic patterns.

On the other hand, this piece represents the moment in which disregarding the interfaces changes the attribution of meaning and its interpretation. To clearly go through this aspect, it is necessary to look back in time…

In the film WarGames (John Badham, 1983), a computer that controls the military system of the United States, revolts, indirectly betraying its own creator and therefore proving that wars have no winners. The protagonist must teach the computer to lose, and finally realizes the only way to do so is by making it compete against itself.

One of the main characteristics of this film is that it portrays a moment in which the implementation of cybernetics for its original purpose (war industry and military strategy) connects and bonds with the following expansion it experimented among the commercial and home industries. However, it also focuses on another breaking point: the moment in which a computer is given power and control over key decisions, in the case of this film leading to World War III.

With cybernetics becoming increasingly popular, a new connection between human logic and IT comes into being; one that encourages us to question the way in which we perceive the world and form our conscience. Even in one of the dialogues the programmer addresses the General of military operations to ask him to think like a human and not like a machine.

The programmer probably appeals to a specific human trait: the benefit of the doubt; that is to say, the fact that the General’s conscience might be masked under logic (associated to the computer), without him being aware of it.   

Just as in WarGames, this game is not meant for humans, but rather IT techniques that compete and gain internal feedback, generate loops, define a good or bad match, and even create unexpected moves. The game takes place within the virtual capacity of fast and accurate calculations, and such tested and serialised capabilities now serve the most paradoxical way of leisure.

The game is a technical loop without time or space. Its only meaning is that of competing per se. There is no room for doubt; just the execution of a previously solved calculation. Computers are not able to discern between leisure and work, the material and the virtual world, nor game and reality. This lack of differentiation calls for a new way of reasoning which introduces new notions related to binarism, conscience, aesthetic and art.  

The relationship between two computers and the idea of being left out of the game lead to questions about human nature: to what extent do we act freely? What are the similarities and differences between our semiotic programming and a computer’s? Yet when adapting these matters to the scope of complex systems and more sophisticated relationships within IT and human logic, it is important to analyse the masks overpowering human conscience and how they affect our interpretation capability.  

In the end, in spite of affiliations and fears, the relationship between humans and technology has changed in some kind of symbiotic process, and, as in the case of Two computers playing Pong, we are still unaware of the information flow or game that is at stake between machines and what we still call us.

There will come soft rains

Collective exhibition in Mario Kreuzberg Gallery (Berlin, Germany)

Elisa Balmaceda, Barbara Marcel, Tomoyuki Ueno

26.11.16 – 14.12.16

In the Fifties, Ray Bradbury published “The Martian Chronicles”, a series of short stories which, influenced by the brand new atomic bomb, show the arrival of the human race to Mars in the context of a Planet Earth in the middle of a nuclear war. By that time, Bradbury made use of exoticism to tackle the social and political problems that he faced as a human being. He wrote beyond his time and beyond his own planet, in an effort to reflect upon the direction in which the future of mankind going.

This kind of exercise is what defines an exote: the person who manages to go back to him or herself after having been through the diverse, a concept elaborated by Segalen in his Essay On Exoticism. He made other observations during that very early stage of globalisation, in which he considered that the exotic tension of the world decreases, in a slow movement into the realm of the tepid, a sort of sociological death, given that the diverse is the source of all energy.

Nowadays, in a situation of advanced globalisation (and just about to colonize Mars, according to Bradbury’s Martian Chronicles), the field of arts and aesthetics is also a medium for the global dynamics, a kind of manifesto and reflection in which the exotic still functions as a mechanism for otherness, through which it is possible to recognize what is your own. In the work of Balmaceda, Marcel, and Ueno, the exotic can be found in an enclosed and near space, indicating that the boundaries that used to demarcate systems, cultures, and distances, are also going through a phase of deterritorialization, immateriality, and fluidity, which are characteristics of these times. Traveling to Mars through images transmitted in real time, represents a smaller potential for diversity than the possibility of having access to places within our own planet of even our own regions that, hidden behind massive amounts of disinformation, still keep their mysteries to themselves.

Balmaceda shows a part of an ongoing project that revolves around the idea of Invisible Architectures. Developed during a residency in the Atacama desert, this work focuses on the study of an enormous crater of unknown origin. Halfway between popular myths and the new scientific discoveries about this phenomenon, she carries out a poetic action in which, using a mirror-like material, reflects the sky and shows the crossing of horizontal and vertical axes, and at the same time creating the illusion of containing water. This is the driest place in the world, the best place in the planet to watch the sky, and an area of ruthless mining activities, and these facts are clues that, through this action, resonate like an echo inside the void of the crater.

The work of Marcel consists of a work in process from his recent residency in the Amazon forest, which started with the research of the photographic record from the Dahlem-Berlin Botanical Garden about a particular plant species called Victoria Amazonica. After traveling to Manaus for the first time, a series of discoveries made Marcel question her own knowledge about the Amazon, and immerse herself in a work of video recording, which brings to light a new sense of scale and unsuspected relations: from the organization of insects to the organization of humans; from the Amazonian imagery as a tropical dreamland to pirate activities; and even the fact that this ecosystem owes its fertility to the tons of phosphorus that travel all the way from the Sahara desert across the Atlantic.

Ueno has an extensive body of work dedicated to the idea or imaginary borders, in which the artificial factor is conceptually intertwined with the organic functions. Doors of Perception is a sculptural exercise, where he works on the possibility of representing the presence and absence of a door at the same time. In the context of the exhibition, it represents the impossibility of conceiving a closed system, and the conceptual nature of the boundaries and borders, that only make sense inside the structures of human thought.

There will come soft rains is the kind of prediction about a near future, in which tepidity turns into something slightly apocalyptic. The Bradbury story, the Sara Teasdale poem quoted in that story, and the exhibition where these works are shown, all share the same title, and also certain concerns that remain relevant throughout history. They work as letters for the future, which, soaked in their own present, wonder and grope for what’s yet to come. 

text by Merlina Rañi

translation by Gustavo A. Roselinsky