Futures of our Past

galerie weisser elefant, Berlin

19.05.2019 – 22.06.2019

The project wants to speak about the ideas of objects, processes, communication models, perceptions of reality that were invented by humans but with time gained its own life.

Artists
Taavi Suisalu
Marcelina Wellmer
The Glad Scientist
Michael Ebert

Guests
Dana Moser
Steffen Neupert
Mateusz Peringer

Curator
Andrzej Raszyk

The futures our society strove to construct, develop and sustain, now are buried in Earth orbit, lay on the oceans’ floor, imperceptibly surround us in the cities, or take storage space on our hard drives. What was once carefully designed with an aim to make our lives better, today is corroded by glitches, errors, overlays, is “unleashed and has mind on its own”.

 

Reflecting on the futurology of the past by discovering and analyzing human creations gives us a possibility to slow down and see what became out of, once called, our aspirations. Archaeology of our futures gives us an opportunity to pick up, what we have left. To observe and understand its present interactions. It might be an impulse to adjust the way in which we imagine our unfolding past.

The exhibition “Futures of our Past” is part of the exhibition series “Exhibitions for a Speculative Audience” at Galerie Weisser Elefant. The series was developed by an interdisciplinary board of trustees consisting of curators, media and cultural scientists as well as artists from the independent scene. Based on the works of intellectual figures from the philosophical wave of speculative realism, which places an open view of reality at the forefront of its contemplation rather than merely adopting an anthropocentric worldview, the board of trustees developed questions from its various perspectives on alternative realities, ways of being and approaches to processes, matters and existences. The series aims to illustrate the collective dialogue of interdisciplinary strategies in artistic research, the investigation of artistic processes, and curation.

The terrain of the Speculative is conceived as an artistic field of research whereby, on the one hand, the interdependence of the construction of reality and thought can be investigated and, on the other, questions on the relationships between aesthetics, art and politics can be developed and addressed in a prototypical way.

Project realized with the kind support of the District Cultural Fund, the Exhibition Compensation Fund and the Municipal Gallery Exhibition Fund of the Senate Department for Culture and Europe. The art work of Taavi Suisalu was developed within the framework of EMAP / EMARE and co-funded by Creative Europe with additional production support by Cultural Endowment of Estonia and Outset Estonia. Exhibitions for a Speculative Audience. Project lead: Sebastian Häger. Graphic design: Carsten Nicolai

Taavi Suisalu

Distant Self-Portrait

Visitor activated real-time algorithmic animation based on a photograph taken by the artist via a weather satellite, 2016

Part of the series Landscapes and Portraits

Landscapes and Portraits is an archive of cosmic field-recordings and distant photographs which have been collected from the outer layers of technological sphere. These signals have been recorded by the artist from a dozen satellites in orbit which have due to malfunctioning exhausted their practical or scientific value and therefore have been turned off. Due to favorable glitches in their systems these machines have sprung back to operational mode broadcasting information of an unpredictable and improvised nature.

Satellites were initially launched for political and military use but have since also become devices for scientific, communication and leisure purposes becoming part of our extended neural networks and altering our perception of space, time and landscape. These devices can be seen as lonesome galactic cowboys playing the cosmic blues but also as utopian feats of technology and structures of power that resist gravity by freefalling for decades.

In this series landscapes and portraits are interwoven. The landscape becomes a portrait, a distant selfie, a cosmic reflection which holds the photographer and the portrait of himself as the smallest unit of an image centered on the photograph.

Études in Black
Sound composition based on signals recorded from malfunctioning satellites, pressed onto a vinyl, played back on a modified record player whose speed is dependent on the position of those satellites over the horizon around the exhibition space, 2016

Part of the series Landscapes and Portraits

Landscapes and Portraits is an archive of cosmic field-recordings and distant photographs which have been collected from the outer layers of technological sphere. These signals have been recorded by the artist from a dozen satellites in orbit which have due to malfunctioning exhausted their practical or scientific value and therefore have been turned off. Due to favorable glitches in their systems these machines have sprung back to operational mode broadcasting information of an unpredictable and improvised nature.

Satellites were initially launched for political and military use but have since also become devices for scientific, communication and leisure purposes becoming part of our extended neural networks and altering our perception of space, time and landscape. These devices can be seen as lonesome galactic cowboys playing the cosmic blues but also as utopian feats of technology and structures of power that resist gravity by freefalling for decades.

Waiting for the Light
Plants in Wardian cases connected to Internet via mobile broadband with public static IPs, growth lights via fiber optic side glow cable triggered by and plant rotation speed controlled by the activity of bots toward the specific plant, 2018

Waiting for the Light departs from the fact that most of intercontinental communication relies heavily on the submarine fiber optic cables. This network carries threads of light as thin as tenth of human hair while being as existential to technological societies as the sun is for the plants. We are hanging by a thread while the artificial sun rays plunge through the oceans and light up our faces via bright screens.

Waiting for the light introduces baits into these networks and lures in threads of light from different parts of the globe. The Wardian cases function as miniature closed ecosystems and also as islands in the network between things – the Internet. Any device connected to this network becomes a target for automated processes – bots – whose motives are mostly unknown. Each plant then becomes an object of interest to these robots whose communicative acts, streams of light, once passed the floors of oceans, are lit back into our environment as bursts of growth light, giving them an agenda they are unaware of.

Marcelina Wellmer

Oops
(As the Earth began to crumble and all was lost…) 

Hard drives, Microphones, Speakers, Arduino, Tree,
2011-2019

Marcelina Wellmer’s work “Oops!” plays with the melange of out-dated technologies, internet errors and a real nature cast – a dead, dry tree.

Oops!..what happened to the nature, what happened to the once so brilliant, new technology? Tech leftovers attacked the debris’s of nature – a hybrid monster from the future is sending greetings to our now.

The obscure realm of the generative noise revealed to our never-ending efforts to keep the tech (or ourselves) “up to date”. The hard disks perform their turns in the endless loop of self-reference and self-errors.

“Oops!” is testament of the once modern technology and the once vivid nature; the heritage: incomprehensible, irrelevant noise moving through the cosmic space

The end is the beginning
Two b/w photographs on baryt paper, 50x75cm, 2019

Who we will be if we don’t look back? A vision: futuristic society. A new concept of diversity and inclusion based on a deep alliance of all living organisms; a new arrangement of community and affiliation. Do we ever need to talk about history?

Sometimes it would be easier if the past had no future, if everything would be bright, new and unstinting all-time long.

This thought accompanied me when I strolled on the last meters of the Californian beach finishing at the Mexico border fence.

Michael Ebert

Fade
Video shot with: Sony HVC 4000, partly damaged Sony Video Mixer, 2019

Maze Craze, Atari and a tank with a Robo-fish. In the movie Fade, Michael Ebert dives in into the life of a solitary protagonist who comes back home, wet from head to toes. He holds in his hand a video camera – the model popular in the late 70s used in semi-professional environments.

Once you will sit in the screening space long enough you will notice that the character comes home wet very often. The loops in his life repeat, but watching him closely you will see small differences. These moments are the courageous spaces of breaking the attachment.

This loop based story we can see from two perspectives. One, an eye following the movement of the character through the space. The Protagonist occasionally becomes almost transparent, ghost-like, which is a Result of the use of this old Technology.

Second, thanks to a passive, programmed installation with 4 cameras in the middle of the room, rotating and documenting the passing time. One of these 4 Cameras begins to create analogue errors, resulting in a cascade of images in which the space dissolves.

Can not let go, for the old technology enthusiast, becomes an obsession. The same as the game Maze Craze – which is based on looking for a way out of the maze.

Michael Ebert – Script & Video, Sound Design, Post-production
Steffen Neupert – Script & Protagonist

With many Thanks for Support to Rocco Voigt and Jörn Rädisch from HB55, and to Axel Ebert, Thomas Monses and Valerie Leray. Inside Shots at “Margarine” from the HB55.

Michael Ebert

Fade
Video shot with: Sony HVC 4000, partly damaged Sony Video Mixer, 2019

Maze Craze, Atari and a tank with a Robo-fish. In the movie Fade, Michael Ebert dives in into the life of a solitary protagonist who comes back home, wet from head to toes. He holds in his hand a video camera – the model popular in the late 70s used in semi-professional environments.

Once you will sit in the screening space long enough you will notice that the character comes home wet very often. The loops in his life repeat, but watching him closely you will see small differences. These moments are the courageous spaces of breaking the attachment.

This loop based story we can see from two perspectives. One, an eye following the movement of the character through the space. The Protagonist occasionally becomes almost transparent, ghost-like, which is a Result of the use of this old Technology.

Second, thanks to a passive, programmed installation with 4 cameras in the middle of the room, rotating and documenting the passing time. One of these 4 Cameras begins to create analogue errors, resulting in a cascade of images in which the space dissolves.

Can not let go, for the old technology enthusiast, becomes an obsession. The same as the game Maze Craze – which is based on looking for a way out of the maze.

Michael Ebert – Script & Video, Sound Design, Post-production
Steffen Neupert – Script & Protagonist

With many Thanks for Support to Rocco Voigt and Jörn Rädisch from HB55, and to Axel Ebert, Thomas Monses and Valerie Leray. Inside Shots at “Margarine” from the HB55.

The Glad Scientist

Justin Time
VR experience, Wall Drawings, Texts, Clocks, 2019

Justin Time is a poetic virtual reality installation personifying the concept of time. Based on research in quantum field theories and their implication on the human experience, it allows a transport to a multiplicity of realities and questions the underpinnings of existence as an identified self.

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