»Very soon a new kind of living being will emerge from artificial intelligence: Cyborgs that will be 10,000 times more intelligent than we are. Our life form will appear to them as evolved as the plant world appears to us« the blurb for the German edition of James Lovelock’s latest book ›Novacene‹ (2020) reads. I am fascinated by the way machines, nature, and mankind interact and how the much-invoked age of the Anthropocene is ultimately little more than a continuous-flow heater. We are just sitting on an old planet that could crumble one day.
Some 3.4 billion years ago, the process of photosynthesis allowed the first unicellular organisms to transform light into energy. The next evolutionary step was the discovery of fire. Then the Industrial Revolution began in the 18th century. Stored solar energy was converted into physical energy by burning carbon. »We are now entering the third phase in which we—and our cyborg successors—convert sunlight directly into information«, Lovelock says. Then hyperintelligence will spread throughout the entire universe.
My work also deals with these kinds of thought processes: plants, objects, stones become one with machines. I consider the machines that I create to be living organisms—some of them I call ›Artificial Stupidity‹. My intention with the series of the same name (since 2016) is to admit failures and to reclaim non-intelligence for the field of robotics. These machines are not capable of doing what they were meant to do. They are not called upon to make the world a better place. Instead of being poised for efficiency and success, they reflect human actions and teach viewers humour and different ways of looking at things. They are the prototype of an idea. Or, to use a recurring term in Donna Haraway’s work: they are philosophical, poetic, motor »critters«, little »creatures«, so to speak. Doesn’t a non-functioning, artificial bot have the right to inhabit our world as well?
Two of my works will be on view during Berlin Art Week 2020. The first is in the ›Down to Earth‹ exhibition at Gropius Bau, an edible table over 70 metres long entitled ›Into the Wild‹, a social sculpture. I am also involved in ›A Handful of Dust‹, a project developed in collaboration with Viron Erol Vert together with curators Pauline Doutreluingne and Petra Poelzl. In the middle of the cemetery at Lilienthalstrasse 7 in Neukölln is the so-called Ehrenhalle (a structure built in 1938); I am showing one of my ›Artificial Stupidity‹ critters there, namely ›Buchsbäume‹, in the middle of a newly-created installation. These critters are supposed to draw boundaries—but they can’t.