Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin / Spector Books, ISBN: 978-3959050937, English, 388 pages, 2016, Germany
Co-curators Stephanie Hankey, Marek Tuszynski and Anselm Franke investigate and oppose the accumulation of data in this catalogue of the exhibition “Nervous Systems” at the Haus der Kulturen der Welt in Berlin. The “countless sensors” we increasingly have around us have inspired the title of the publication (because they form a primary nervous system) and also inform the exhibition subtitle: “quantified life and the social question”. They introduce the main concept: the constant tracking we, as citizens, are under is leading to new forms of measurement and prediction, with, as the curator states, the consequence that the need “to anticipate and pre-empt becomes the guiding cultural logic”. Being in the middle of this abusive power and social logic can be conflictive, drawing on strategies that involve both the very private and the very public spheres simultaneously. If “subjectivity itself occurs in a data-processing environment” then the call for “nervousness”, as a proactive resistance to quantifications and elaborations of the self, can be an effective and socially relevant way of contrasting the propaganda of a sanitised digitally induced “smart” dimension. Finally, the selected texts are clearly reinforcing both the exhibition concept and this analysis, but in a way that is influential rather than merely supportive. They offer further deconstructions of statistical worship, in favour of a more structured and dynamic resistance.
Nervous Systems Interviews: Marek Tuszynski and Stephanie Hankey on The White Room
Eggsistential Angst is a work by Neil Mendoza, defined by the artist as “an investigation into balance and survival as an egg and a pendulum weave a never-ending dance”. In the installation, a large, metal pendulum hangs with its constant and growing swing. When the momentum reaches a power such as to transform the oscillation in a complete rotation, a reaction wheel (one of those also used for driving a satellite’s movement) on the end of the pendulum becomes active. Driven by a servomotor, this wheel reverses the direction of the rocking motion, causing the complete rotation of the pendulum in the opposite direction. This continuous and seemingly harmless movement occurs near an egg, placed on a slim and slender pedestal, which elegantly dodges all the pendulum swings with gracious but snappy shifts. Engines, Arduino boards and two additional “stepper” motors ensure perfect interaction between the two elements. If in the “Pala di Brera” by Piero della Francesca, the egg hangs from the sky as a symbol of protection and fertility, in this work the egg (literally) reverses its position; it has always been a sign of birth, protection and life, but the egg in “Eggsistential Angst” is a symbol of vulnerability, constantly threatened by the unfolding beats of the pendulum, like a slow and ineffable countdown from which it is difficult to escape. Chiara Ciociola
Neil Mendoza – Eggsistential Angst
CD – 12k
This is the fourth full-length album in ten years for the Australians Kane Ikin and Paul Fiocco, aka Solo Andata, an experimental combo that now returns to 12K after a first experience on Hefty Records and recent release on Desire Path Recordings. The two albums in the middle were for the New York-based label Seaworthy, with the head honcho Taylor Deupree, in 2008, and their namesake Solo Andata the following year. The border zone where the duo moves is that of a refined post-rock, quiet and contemplative, a stylistic context here marked with near-broken acoustic instruments on which to experiment with cheap microphones and any other equipment to be modified in order to create unconventional sounds. They embrace a certain raw and innocent sound quality, often disregarded in much of the current over-produced music. In the Lens takes this spirit and in some way also reassembles the fragments, annexing old recordings, samples and dusty arrangements. The result is a clean sweep of all conceptual superstructure, highlighting its ethereal passages and melodies, suspended between folk and jazz, with carefully studied lullabies and piano iterations, in sequences that have a strong narrative structure. Ikin and Fiocco are skilled at unravelling the sonic continuum and in the thirteen tracks more environmental sequences, acoustic and electronic evolutions, beat and frequencies, improvisational cuts and parts subject to heavy manipulations come to the fore. However, in their collaborations the two musicians have always privileged loosely structured and pre-arranged sessions.
Solo Andata – In The Lens