Yuko Hasegawa


New Sensorium

Exiting Failures of Modernization

Venue : ZKM



Organization : ZKM Karlsruhe

Artists :
Tarek Atoui, Rohini Devasher, Valia Fetisov/Nicolay Spesivtsev/Dzina Zhuk, Lin Ke, Tara Kelton, Nile Koetting, Mirai Moriyama, Magdi Mostafa, Kohei Nawa, Daito Manabe (Rhizomatiks Research)/Yusuke Tomoto (Rhizomatiks Research)/2bit Ishii (buffer Renaiss), Bruce Quek, Raqs Media Collective, Sputniko!, Shiro Takatani, Maria Taniguchi, Guan Xiao

New Sensorium- Exiting Failures of Modernization features the work of mostly non-Western Asian artists -- taking the classical definition of "Asian": the Eurasian continent, minus Europe -- and focuses on the new sensory realms, indications of the new consciousness derived from globalization and digital technologies. In doing so, the exhibition hopes to indicate transitions in process, smoke out issues presented, suggest new alternative paths forward, and to suggest new escape paths from, new corrections to the failures of modernization, utilizing their discoveries.
The sense of sensorium means, of course, not only sensory inputs, but also the accompanying cognition to re-evaluate our changing conditions, and the acuity and sensibility to smell both crisis and new paths while in the midst of verifying how we humans perceive the world, as a means of vitally engaging this moment of transitional cohabitation between our virtual and actual lives.

Western modernization's accelerated hyperplasia of human affordance, generated from an anthropocentric subject/object dualist understanding of the world, increasingly squeezes all our planetary co-inhabitants. The dualism which gave birth to it is, as Bruno Lator and others have pointed out, not actually a functioning ideology, but rather a technical method of classification. Now with our new-found informational environment, advances of digital data creation and distribution technologies, the relationships between the material, information, and our physicality are ripe for review.

Just as the term Asian does not reflect a single culture or race, but rather a non-European tradition in Eurasia, New Sensorium offers a logos essentially distinct from the European model in that the work relies on intuitive ways that phenomena are handled, holistically integrating thought and action without ever needing to bifurcate into subject/object. The advantages are evident in, for example, the interpretation, visualization, and materialization of mega data. Here, the discovery and the decision of mediality (what can function as a communications medium) are processed as a whole physicality, including emotions, and relationships among mutually dependent environments.

Lin Ke's Download Rain presents the hydro-meteorological activity of the planet as a single portrait, as today's weather. Kohei Nawa replaces pixels with other physical material. Each with their own sense of materiality and mediality, and "newness".
This coherence of knowledge and body in visceral and material expressions of understanding and interpreting data and information, and the talent for mobilizing all of the senses of the viewer, is not just about sophisiticated infographic design, but quite unique and innovative. With this generation of "asian" artists, cybernetics are applied not only to the informational but also to the corporeal. They indicate another subject next topic: the unification of human and non-human regimes.

Skepticism of Western modernization's worldview, which bisects mainly, subject and object, human and material, is born from an attempt to understand the human and non-human at the same level. The new materialism and actor theory trend of thought is an attempt to adjust the balance between human and other surrounding world environment. In this exhibition the position taken is speculative realism.

If we examine closer the philosophical background of New Sensorium we readily find the primitivism of sensing spirituality in all things. And from this primitivism derives the new horizon of materialism and mentalism. Artists deal with technology and information organically and emotionally, resulting in an emotional experiential engagement with viewers. It's about understanding that design impacts people on conscious and sensual levels. Here, "affect" and "affordance" are utilized more actively as strategic concepts, and made into artwork/products. One alternative sensory realm is explored by overlapping innovative suggestions or visions on robots, insects, or genes: leaving the subject, re-capturing the environment-object, information, and surrounding oneself with a different perspective, to give life to, or to bring the potentials out of the new subject-object, human-object relationship.

Additionally, many "digital native" artists born since the advent of the personal computer in the 1980s have lived their lives within the unstable and dynamic situation of connecting and disconnecting pre-modern or traditional cultural memory and the "contemporary" in the context of the ideological shifts towards capitalism and urbanization of Asia in these 20 years.
They utilize digital media as a tool to create new living environments to retain their sanity. Digital space is where they thrive and collaborate on survival methods for political, social, and environmental crises in their actual surroundings. Sensation, sensibility, and perception, born in such a process, in a sense, potentially have productive, critical, poetic power, different from similar solutions born in actual space.

New sensorium is an exhibition presenting the work of 15 artists sensing the way forward, exploring exit strategies from the dark confusion at the precipices of dualist modernization. It is a step towards a new ecosystem, of media and material, directed to another future, another body--a renewed sensing of the organism. And the artists, presenting a mix including new work, ceaselessly appeal to the visitor's senses.
The exhibition focuses primarily on 4 thematic suggestions:
1) New ecologies (or eco systems) under (or in) the post-internet condition.
2) New mediality and materiality in the IN-form / UN-form infosphere
3) Alternative futures
4) Experiments in oganics (or organic experiments)

”New Sensorium- Exiting Failures of Modernization” Yuko Hasegawa (Excerpt from the catalog)