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Machinevision: Field Research in the Spaces of Imaging Technologies at ZKM
Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources, Hannover/ Germany: Visualization of the seismic measurement of the sediment layers on the seabed. Video still, 2012 © Daniel Neumann. Photo: Daniel Neumann.

KARLSRUHE.- The exhibition gives insight into the current practice of the total measuring of the word by way of electronic sensor technology. The data generated by these means have long-since ceased serving purely scientific knowledge. They constitute the basis of numerous decisions in medicine, industry and politics, in the military and police, and have far-reaching consequences for the individual and society. In the form of artistic, filmic essays and photographs MACHINEVISION presents the results of a three-year field research in laboratories and institutions in which measuring and visualization technologies are developed and tested that, while almost having entirely been passed over unnoticed by the pubic have changed our world.

MACHINEVISION is a collaborative project in the departments of “media art – photography” and “exhibition design and scenography” at the HfG Karlsruhe with the ZKM.

Today, countless camera eyes and sensors are directed at the world. They measure landmass and oceans beds, the surfaces of plants and animal bodies as well as the quality of the atmospheres. By way of elaborate computing processes, the so-called measurement data are translated into images perceptible to the human eye or are else transformed directly into the automated control of machines.

“The objective was to explore the most recent photographic or graphic image methods in the locations in which they are developed and applied. The documentation in various formats – film, photography, drawing and writing – should be an aid to grasping the kinds of changes that these new techniques have brought about in our society. The hope was to be able to observe the emergence of aesthetics, as disseminating industrially or commercially, and before integration into the vocabulary of the arts.” (Prof. Armin Linke, HfG Karlsruhe)

The students document the devices, spaces, persons, scientific models and technical terms on-site that interact in the process of production and analysis of sensor data. They observe research scientists, developers and users when measuring the most diverse of objects: in the recording of the earth’s atmosphere, the borders of coastal nations, the procedures in the brain, the structure of corpses and the spatial position of the udders of dairy cows. Of what is the atmosphere composed, what course does the continental shelf run, what happens physically when we make a decision, what brought about the death of the individual, and how can a milking robot find teats?

MACHINEVISION exhibits cutting-edge measuring, visualization and automation technologies in the context of their emergence. The exhibition thus documents an area of culture subject to such rapid transformation; and that the knowledge about these concepts, devices and processes is irretrievably lost, almost without exception, in the shortest possible time.

“Prophetic texts about respective technologies – whether on television, computer or Internet – in which, as Hans Magnus Enzensberger once remarked, either the «entrails of the technological civilization» the decline of culture or the arrival of an earthly paradise may be read, have lost their power of attraction. They have been replaced by detailed studies of concrete situations, which refrained from conceiving of machines and technical processes in artificial isolation from one another, but rather in their interconnection within the world, such as the economy, law, politics, and industry, but also with art and literature.” (Margit Rosen, curator, ZKM)

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Machinevision: Field Research in the Spaces of Imaging Technologies at ZKM

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