Like A Second Nature

There no longer exists a single aspect of our lives in which technical devices or processes do not play a dominant role. In just about everything we do, we employ modern technology, are enveloped and even permeated by it as if by a second nature that we have created on our own and for ourselves. At ever shorter intervals, this ongoing technological development institutes a new set of facts & circumstances, and has long since established itself as one of the prime determinants of our social, scientific, economic and political reality. We are constantly creating new tools, new materials and new media. In going about this, we usually use as our model that very same nature we are endeavoring to comprehend, control and ultimately upgrade. But even if it’s merely a means to an end, this process of investigating flora and fauna also yields incidental benefits, opening up new findings and insights into life on The Blue Planet. And scientists aren’t the only ones at work weaving this web of development; artists as well seek and discover cognitive and emotional approaches and interpretations to thereby satisfy humankind’s longing to not entirely lose contact with our origins.

Fourth Exhibition Staged by Volkswagen Automobil Forum Unter den Linden and Ars Electronica Linz

This fourth exhibition staged jointly by Volkswagen Automobil Forum Unter den Linden and Ars Electronica Linz scrutinizes the determinative elements in this process’ past, present and future—those factors that enable us to become cognizant of what is natural and artificial in everyday life, to experience those two and differentiate between them. Artistic works, perspectives and positions selected from the media art network of the Prix Ars Electronica, the world’s most prestigious and highest endowed prize honoring excellence in media art, underscore the tremendous relevance of investigating this issue and likewise shed light on its multifarious effects on everyday life.

Unconventional Configurations and New Types of Artists

Each of 15 works of art uniquely manifests various approaches and associations. This show illustrates the wide array of roles artists assume, of themes their concepts and configurations encompass, of unconventional ways they choose to relate their narratives. What also becomes evident over the course of this encounter is a new type of artist, one characterized by a high level of substantive competence—which is to say artistic, scientific and sociopolitical capacities—and, with respect to art’s role, one who keeps the big picture in mind. This applies to Agnes Meyer-Brandis and her ironic take on science and how scientists see themselves, as well as to Willem van Weeghel and his playful dealings with perception and self-perception. Observations of nature served Yasuhiro Suzuki, Akira Nakayasu and Alistair McClymont as sources of inspiration for their aesthetically demanding, highly expressive works having to do with robotic plants, blinking leaves and artificially generated tornados. The Brazilian duo Cantoni/Crescenti, on the other hand, sets up an elaborate configuration of light patterns, shadows and reflections as a means of shifting the installation visitors themselves and their reactions and observations into the focal point of attention.