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curating
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Image: Roman Kirschner, 'Roots'


Process as Paradigm -
Art in development, flux and change



Laboral Centro de Arte y Creatión Industrial, Gíjon, Spain
23 April - 27 September 2010

Curated by Dr. Susanne Jaschko and Lucas Evers


Concept

At present, we, the globalised society, are challenged by a series of processes that seemingly got out of our control. On-going conflicts in various parts of the world, the sudden melt-down of world economy and the thread of climate change, only to name the big headlines, are valid proofs that we are deeply involved in social, ecologic and economic processes which are of such complexity that we have become aware of our limitations to master them -- if at all in their entirety. After WW2, Europe and other industrialised societies went through a phase of recovery and stabilisation, slowly regaining confidence in predictability and continuity. Having arrived in the 21st century, this misguided belief has given way to the understanding that we still lack knowledge and means to design and control developments of greater scale.

In the light of this, it is understandable that innovative contemporary art does no longer hold on to the safe properties of the final object, the ultimate manifestation of a creative process, but moves to the uncertain territory of unpredictability and successive live generation of form.

This movement is also driven by the major shift from an industrial culture based on the concept of the final product to a post-industrial, networked culture built on the concept of global trade and production systems and distributed service industries.

The exhibition Process as Paradigm shows that processes indeed have become one of the major paradigms and creative strategies in contemporary art and design. The exhibition and accompanying programmes confront us with art that is in continuous flux and execution, that has a life of its own, that grows, changes and decays.

The processes are designed by artists with very different approaches and artistic practices. What unites them though is their common interest in the complexity, the temporal aspect, the interdependence and the self-organisation of processes. As artists they deal with these matters almost on a scientific level, which makes their artworks become experiments and prototypes rather than controllable systems. In this regard, all works investigate the vague terrain between preprogramming and autonomy, between determinism and free will, thus delivering surprising insights into the nature of non-teleological processes and the limits and limitations of art.

Performative in nature and progressing in different speeds the presented processes reject standard practices of art perception. Instead the works demand for persistent, perpetual or repeated observation.

The exhibition Process as Paradigm centres on four types of process-based art, which are closely interrelated because of the hybrid nature of most processual artworks.

The first group of works comprises natural, biological or organic processes. These works are either based on processes as they in occur nature or they are built on systems, which have a relevant organic/natural component. Since James Watson we know much more about the genetic constitution of life, but the question remains how much to we really understand about Watson's discoveries and how we should take this limited knowledge into consideration when defining rules and law governing society.
In any case we have become much more aware of the fact that the evolution of life and environmental processes are much more complex than ever before thought and that the Newtonian machine-metaphor is not sufficient anymore to describe this reality. The accelerated distribution of computed and networked knowledge has led to the fact that scientific knowledge has popularised and reached beyond its peers. Artists are starting to see their agency within a world which is increasingly designed to suit our needs and in doing so they engage in works that build on and response to knowledge from the natural sciences and life sciences.

The second group of works is an exploration of automated processes. Cybernetic systems and generative art investigate the qualities of machine-based processes and the influence their surroundings have on them. Here the shift from the mechanical to the digital age has led artists to set their thoughts towards the process than any end result or product. Inspired by computational processes’ potential for infinite and autonomous generation of art work defined only by a given system of rules, these artists explore the medium of program code to generate form and behaviour. Relations between the design of computational processes and the nature of organic processes are apparent since self-organisation, evolution, and randomness are key features of coded processes too. In addition, the dependence of any processing machine on energy has motivated artists to artistically investigate the relations between the machine and nature and its energy resources.

The third group of projects is about the processes of humans in political, social, economic, technological and natural environments. These projects are concerned with the complex processes traversed in the socio- or bio-political realm.

Here are reflections on the people’s relation to the world, and in particular to the local situation in Gijòn. This category of works might seem to leave the teleological behind, but that is not the case at all. Artists research our human system parameters: our memes, our agencies, our social economics, our psycho geography and what makes us act and interact in sometimes rudimentary and sometimes complex manners.

The fourth group of works comprises visualisations and live documentations of economic or social live processes. Here the artists do not initiate or create a process but have chosen to take on the role of the observer and interpreter. Before the visitors’ eyes unfold panoptic works which feature and illustrate the complex interrelations between human agents and the world. The human being is thus portrayed in his ambivalent role as on the one hand controller/designer of the world and menial participant on the other hand.


Participating artists

Jelte van Abbema, Boredomresearch, Ralf Bäcker, Gregory Chatonsky, Adrian Cuervo, Ursula Damm, Driessens & Verstappen, Peter Flemming , Isabelle Jenniches, Roman Kirschner, Allison Kudla, Luna Maurer, Marta de Menezes, Henrik Menné, Manu Luksch and Mukul Patel, Aymeric Mansoux/ Marloes de Valk, Leo Peschta, Julius Popp, Casey Reas, RYBN.ORG, Antoine Schmitt, Ralf Schreiber, Warren Sack, Jan Peter Sonntag.


Publications

Laboral produced a bilingual (Spanish/English) exhibition catalogue and a reader comprising extracts from the weblog and essays. Read a review here


Workshop

The Laboral programme of Process as Paradigm includes a 2-week workshop in collaboration with Medialab Prado Madrid. The workshop is designed to enable the development and production of prototypes along the thematic lines of the exhibition. The workshop will be documented and featured in the exhibition. The resulting prototypes will be shown together with other materials of reference e.g. texts, catalogues and images.
Link to call for projects/workshop participants, deadline February 22, 2010


Academic teaching

Curator Susanne Jaschko will be teaching at the virtual campus of the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya in February 2010. The course ‘innovación en arte y cultura digital’ will discuss process as a new paradigm within art and culture and before the background of the up-coming exhibition.

In May 2010, Susanne Jaschko will teach a course on media art and theory at the Bauhaus University in Weimar, Germany. The seminar focuses on ‚process’ as one paradigm of media art and introduces it as a valid perspective on the present. Relevant theories on interactivity and performativity will be consulted for precise definitions of ‘process’ and ‘processuality’, so are natural sciences and systems theory. Historic and contemporary media art and its genres such as bio art, generative art, and collaborative net-based art will be studied with regard to inherent processual qualities and possibilities of presentation, documentation and archiving. The seminar is loosely linked to the exhibition ‘Process is Paradigm’ at Laboral, Gijòn, Spain. The findings of the seminar are to be published as papers on the project’s weblog.


Exhibition design

The exhibition design for the show at Laboral has been developed by Madrid based architects Kawamura-Ganjavian Kawamura-Ganjavian. The exhibition space at Laboral is a big hall with two levels stretching over 1500 sqm.