Monday, March 10, 2014

Neuroscientist Stephen Whitmarsh on I am A Curator and Neuroscience

Reflections on IACC: expectations and neuroscience
Per and I have been engaged in a dialogue about the differences and parallels between art and science for many years, and in so doing have always been conscious of our own limited perspectives. I am not an artist, and Per is not a scientist and this often results in wonderful moments of mutual confusion. Increasingly, these conversations have deepened my appreciation of his artistic vision, and it is a great pleasure to take the opportunity now to reflect on I Am A Curator (IAAC).
During our conversations about this project it became clear to the both of us that expectations provide a relevant point of departure for our reflections on both art and science. Expectations are ephemeral thoughts: they are always present; informing, shaping and determining our minds while at the same time remaining mostly unconscious. During the process of creating IAAC, however, expectations (of himself, the artists, the audience and the art-world) showed themselves clearly to Per, and had to be confronted head-on. I have come to understand that the outcome of these confrontations has shaped Per’s artistic practice greatly over the next ten years. In fact, the more I have been thinking about IAAC, the more I seem to understand him and his artistic vision.

The predicting Brain

Expectations (or rather: predictions) are currently a very important and influential topic in cognitive neuroscience. This has certainly not always been the case and it is only recently that the importance of expectations has been appreciated in neuroscience. To understand what I mean, we have to go back several decades to when the brain was understood according to the then contemporary cultural metaphor of the computer (after the prevailing metaphor of telephone switch-board). The primacy of the computer metaphor started in the fifties and gradually gained more and more influence until it peaked in the 70’s and 80’s.This co-occurred   with the interest in artificial intelligence in the 90’s. From this cognitivist view, every complex function (such as perception, memory and action) was understood as a succession of many simpler processing steps, with each step informing the next.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

I am a Curator - 10 years later

by Per Hüttner

Background and Introduction
In 2003 I was commissioned by Chisenhale Gallery in London to create a project that developed the experimental exhibition practice that I had been engaged in during the preceding years. The outcome was I am a Curator (IAAC), a complex project that offered a different interface for the audience both to interact with artwork and exhibition. The project was a collective effort in every sense of the word and involved a large number of creators. At least 150 individuals contributed in different ways to the project. During the six weeks that it was open to the public, IAAC offered 30 individuals and groups the opportunity to investigate the work of 57 artists and if they so wished to, create a presentation or exhibition at the end of the day. Together we ensured that the project could sustain and develop its core problematics in a dynamic way.

IAAC had a distinct structure, yet lacked a clearly formulated hypothesis. This meant that countless interesting and inspiring issues surfaced while we were working in the gallery. Many issues have only become clear during the following decade of reflection. This text explores central issues that the project provoked at the time and describes how IAAC has played an important role in challenging (and changing) our outlook on artwork and exhibitions.

This text is based on notes and discussions in conjunction with an event that commemorated the ten-years anniversary of IAAC that took place at David Roberts Art Foundation in London on October 29, 2013.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

The Universitas Project

In January of 1972, The Museum of Modern Art hosted "The Universitas Project," a two-day conference sponsored by the Museum's International Council and the Institute for Architecture and Urban Studies. The distinguished participants, from a wide range of scholarly and artistic disciplines, including Jean Baudrillard, Umberto Eco, Gyorgy Kepes, Octavio Paz, Anatol Rapoport, Meyer Schapiro, Carl Schorske and Jivan Tabibian, among many others, engaged in a multidisciplinary debate on the future of design and design institutions in the postindustrial era.

The project, conceived and directed by the noted architect and designer Emilio Ambasz, then Curator of Design at the Museum, was originally described as "a critical and prospective inquiry into the relation of man to the natural and the sociocultural environment...specifically planned to explore the possibility of establishing in the United States a new type of institution centered around the task of evaluating and designing the man-made milieu." This important volume publishes in their entirety the various components of the conference: the working papers that set the terms of the debate; the essays submitted by the invitees; the proceedings of the symposia responding to the papers; and the postscripts provided by the participants after the event. It makes this chapter in the intellectual history of the Museum, addressing issues and ideas still relevant today, available for the first time to scholars, the architecture and design community and the general public.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Robert Grenier. Attention/ Seven Narratives.

Back in the 80s, when I did my studies of linguistics at Odessa University, the ideas of Noam Chomsky were rather strong. He believed that language was something we were born with, its structures or grammar already there, inside any child's mind. I have to admit that my own experiences provided numerous examples justifying his approach. I had no difficulties learning a foreign language as long as I thought I knew it already, it was just a new costume I could borrow , a new palette of sounds and rhythms, allowed to co-exist with the ones I was accustomed to. Later on, while working as an interpreter, I met some kids speaking what their parents called bird language. One boy ( usually it is children with hyperactivity, attention deficit disorder, autistic traits, they are all very late talkers) had a word "tölkö" for cow (ko in Swedish, korova in Russian). No guidance from the outside world passing through, he created his own words and word patterns, having no resemblance whatsoever to anything existent in real languages. Tibetan it was, I thought, but only the sound of course, it was no xenolinguistic case. He had a need to represent the world as any other kid of his age by means accessible to him. For communication he used different methods- he could drag his mother by the hand towards objects and people, point at things, etc.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Dumb as individuals, intelligent as a collective...

As promised in the previous post I am coming back to Insect Media by Jussi Parikka. Discovered on twitter under the planning stage of a hauntological sound project , the book feels like a revelation - media as contractions of forces into resonating milieus! I can actually visualise twitter users cutting into information flowing through the smooth digital space and dropping the chunks of it on the timeline. As I am going to record on tape- the process physically demonstrating the workings of disjunctive synthesis or taking sonic events out of the continuum of the room tone - the results of whatever it is going to be will get a linear presentation, the process itself replicating the original recording or inscription of traumatic energies, to borrow from psychoanalysis, in the body of the house, haunting it whenever a play-back is activated.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Jussi Parikka, "Insect Media"

An award-winning book by Jussi Parikka "Insect Media" is said to be a rigorous interdisciplinary and theoretical research into media world, bringing a new understanding of it. Are we behaving like ants or bees on the net? My copy is on its way. So far I was reading in the author's blog- interesting thoughts on Flusser, Negarestani and he doesn't forget D&G.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Illuminations - Walter Benjamin with introduction by Hannah Arendt

Illuminations is a selection of studies on contemporary art and culture by one of the most original, critical and analytical minds of last century. It includes Benjamin's two amazing texts on Kafka, a very interesting text on Baudelaire and Proust (both of whom he translated), but also essays on Leskov and on Brecht's Epic Theater.

Hannah Arendt selected the essays for this volume and prefaces them with a substantial and well informed introduction that presents Benjamin's personality and intellectual development, as well as his work and his life in dark times.

The literary-philosophical works of Walter Benjamin (1892-1940) remain essential reading in the post-war era, though only since his death had Benjamin achieved the fame and critical currency outside his native Germany . Now he is widely held to have possessed one of the most acute and original minds of the Central European culture decimated by the Nazis.

Illuminations contains also contains the highly interesting 'Theses on the Philosophy of History'.