“Reset Modernity!” at ZKM

To conclude the GLOBALE, the Reset Modernity! exhibition, curated by Bruno Latour, Martin Guinard-Terrin, Christophe Leclercq & Donato Ricci, is being opened. Throughout six different procedures, visitors will have the opportunity to experiment  with  “resetting  modernity”, dealing with some stakes that the Moderns are facing at a time of deep ecological mutation.

 

Territorial Agency, Museum of Oil  © Territorial Agency

Territorial Agency, Museum of Oil © Territorial Agency

 

Regarding the exhibition, Bruno Latour‘s introductory text asks the visitor: what do you do when you are disoriented? For instance, when the digital compass of your mobile phone goes wild? You reset it. You might be in a state  of mild panic because you lost your bearings, but still you have  to  take  your time and follow the instructions to calibrate the compass and let it reset. The procedure depends on the situation and on the device, but you always have to stay calm and carefully follow instructions if you want the compass to regain  its ability to be sensitive to the signals sent by the arrays of satellites dispersed  in the sky way above your head.


 

Practical information

“Reset Modernity! “
April 16 – August 21, 2016
ZKM | Center for Art and Media Karlsruhe
Lorenzstraße 19
76135 Karlsruhe
Germany

 


The exhibition suggest you to do something similar: resetting a few of  the instruments that allow you to register some of the confusing signals sent by the epoch. Except what we are trying to recalibrate is nothing as simple as a compass, but is the most obscure principle of projection allowing us to map  out the world, namely   Modernity. What we are convinced of is that Modernity was a way to differentiate past  and future, North and South, up and down, progress and regress, rich and    poor, radical and conservative. However, such a compass, especially at a time  of ecological crisis, is spinning wildly without offering much bearing. This is the time for a reset. Let’s pause for a while, follow a procedure and search for different sensors that could allow us to recalibrate our detectors, our instruments, to feel anew where we are and where we might wish to go.

 

Leviathan, 2012  © Lucien Castaing-Taylor and Véréna Paravel

Leviathan, 2012 © Lucien Castaing-Taylor and Véréna Paravel

 

Unfortunately, after you have done the reset you will not easily find your way since we cannot offer you a metric as straightforward as  longitude  and  latitude. We have no vast array of satellites to send you signals and triangulate  your position! Time to look for some other sort of ground, to invent some base- line, some groundline. As the saying goes, it might be time to “touch base”. A reset is never just a question of pushing a button and waiting for the effect.  It always depends on a procedure. Each section has therefore been organised like a procedure, where the viewer can move through the museum, compare  the various art works, test and criticize the curator’s propositions.

 

Operating theatre, remotely controlled surgery, Modena, Italy 2006  © Armin Linke

Operating theatre, remotely controlled surgery, Modena, Italy 2006 © Armin Linke

Adrian Walker, artist, drawing from a specimen in a laboratory in the Departement of Anatomy at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, 1992 © Jeff Wall

Adrian Walker, artist, drawing from a specimen in a laboratory in the Departement of Anatomy at the University of British Columbia © Jeff Wall

 

The first procedure deals with relocating the global. Everything today is supposed to be global, except that in practice no one has ever had a truly global view. You always see locally, from a situated place, through specific instruments. Powers of Ten, by Charles and Ray Eames, is the  archetype  of  the global, unsituated and “godlike” scientific vision of  the  world. The  installation Wall  of  Science  by Peter Galison contrasts with this representation by providing a more realistic vision. It documents a series of experiments where science cannot be understood as coming from   nowhere. Superpowers of Ten by Andrés Jaque / Office for Political Innovation will be performed on opening day.

 

Superpowers of Ten, Jumex Museum © Office for Political Innovation, Andres Jaque

Superpowers of Ten, Jumex Museum © Office for Political Innovation, Andrés Jaque

Superpowers of Ten, Lisbon 2013 © Office for Political Innovation, Andres Jaque

Superpowers of Ten, Lisbon 2013 © Office for Political Innovation, Andres Jaque

 

This is followed by a second procedure, which proposes to be either without  the world or within it. It deals with this very peculiar way in which the Moderns believe that they apprehend their surroundings: the rigid division between  subject and object. Jeff Wall’s piece carefully stages an observer gazing at a situation from a single point of view and separated from his object of study. Véréna Paravel and Lucien Castaing-Taylor, in their movie Leviathan offer a multi-sensorial experience, which is not centred on the human perspective.

 

Robert Bresson, The Trial of Joan of Arc  © Robert Bresson

Robert Bresson, The Trial of Joan of Arc © Robert Bresson

 

The third procedure addresses the notion of the sublime in the Anthropocene. One of the strange things about the ecological mutation is that there is no  outside anymore: everything that was out, in the  environment, in nature, is now back in, and it weighs on our shoulders. In such a context it is difficult to   feel the 18th century version of the sublime. Humans have grown too big and their souls have shrunk too small! Suddenly they feel responsible for everything just at the time when they have become part of a geological force over which they have no control. In this regard Fabien Giraud’s use of radioactive paper taken from the Fukushima forest highlights this perverse entanglement  between a tsunami, a nuclear explosion, and a contaminated territory.

 

Pierre Huyghe, Nymphéas Transplant (14-18) © Photo: Ola Rindal. VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2016

Pierre Huyghe, Nymphéas Transplant (14-18) © Photo: Ola Rindal. VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2016

 

Likewise, the fourth procedure directs our attention to a new way of occupying a territory. How could the Moderns absorb the discovery of limits at the time of the Anthropocene without falling back on the notion of borders and identities? This theme is especially relevant in the works of the collective of architects Folder who interrogate the limits of the Italian nation state as it is challenged. Pierre Huyghe’s work Nymphéas Trans- plant (14-18), explores a parcel of a tenuous territory, an ecosystem contained within a fragile  membrane.

 

Folder. Italian Limes, 2014–2016  © Photo: Delfino Sisto Legnani

Folder. Italian
Limes, 2014–2016 © Photo: Delfino Sisto Legnani

 

The fifth procedure addresses the notions of politics and religion. Jean-Michel Frodon and Agnès Devictor curate a list of movie excerpts interrogating the crossing between political and religious speech, while Lorenza Mondada and  her collaborators address the reactions of the public to Obama’s speech in Charleston. This procedure explores the possibility of being secular in a new sense. The sixth one deals with a shift in perception from technology as object to technology as project. As an example, Thomas Thwaites in The Toaster Project recomposes one by one the operations necessary to create a daily object.

 

Tout monument est une quarantaine (Minamisōma – Fukushima District – Japan) © Fabien Giraud

Tout monument est une quarantaine (Minamisōma – Fukushima District – Japan) © Fabien Giraud


 

News source: ZKM
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