Frankfurter Kunstverein reopens with "How to Make a Paradise: Seduction and Dependence in Generated Worlds"

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Frankfurter Kunstverein reopens with "How to Make a Paradise: Seduction and Dependence in Generated Worlds"
Jakob Kudsk Steensen, 2016. Photographer: Norbert Miguletz © Frankfurter Kunstverein. Courtesy: the artist

FRANKFURT.- Under the exhibition title “How to Make a Paradise” Frankfurter Kunstverein has invited nine artists and collectives to present a broad spectrum of artistic projects dealing with the human desire for digital escapism, and the aspiration to expand human capabilities with technology. Curated by Mattis Kuhn with the support of Franziska Nori, the exhibition includes multimedia installations, digital films and VR experiences.

The works of Jakob Kudsk Steensen; artist duo Fleuryfontaine, consisting of Galdric Fleury and Antoine Fontaine; as well as the collective Keiken + George Jasper Stone focus on individual experience in virtual worlds. All describe a feeling of loneliness in their work through varying stylistic perspectives.

Keiken + George Jasper Stone's spatial installation "Feel My Metaverse" focuses on the artificiality of physicality in today's self-optimization and do-it-yourself culture. The digital image worlds take place in future environments, in which users can acquire a body online, with which they can move through the substitute world in complete isolation. The longing for the real, for touch, for connectedness determine the thinking and feeling of the actors as an unfulfillable desire.

The theme of isolation is also the central aspect of the work "I would prefer not to" by the artist duo Fleuryfontaine. This is about the real existing young man Ael, who has been living as "Hikikomori" for 13 years, which is a person, that almost completely disappeared out of society and the public living space into the seclusion of private spaces. In the course of the work, a how-to video, we experience Ael's chosen limited world of his individual perspective. We see through his movement, we experience what he experiences and we hear what he says.

“How to Make a Paradise” offers an individual area for each artistic work where the digital world is expanded and intensified within analog space. The nine works exemplify current artistic productions that succeed in anticipating emerging ruptures, both for the individual and on a political, collective level.

Paradises evokes notions of fulfilment and longing. Longing for that which is far off, for beauty, for an effortless existence. Digital gadgets are accessible anytime, anywhere. They promise expansion of our comfort zone. They whisk us away from the here and now. They take us into worlds whose surface appearance is adaptable to our wishes. Playful, user-friendly and with a soft-toned voice, they help us effortlessly through everyday life.

Retreat into digital paradises and controllable worlds is one pole, constant optimization of the physical is the other. However, the subliminal inherent themes in almost all of the works are isolation and doom scenarios. The desire for control through digital instruments and applications continually filters through. The longing for comfortable, iridescent worlds can be traced through the exhibition. The omnipresence of digital images asserting their own reality through flawless surface appearance reinforces the desire for individual self-optimization. We reflect ourselves in the digital plane. We continue to optimise our skills, our self and our individual world. In our individual paradise we yearn for seduction and the experience of closeness without intimacy, of excitement without consequence. With a digital body as an artificial manifestation of our staged self, we move through the matrix of the digital world in search of recognition and self-assurance through likes from online communities.

A second focus of the exhibition is the use and effects of artificial intelligence. So that digital assistants can respond to a clap of the hands or a swipe of a finger, the globe is spanned by a powerful infrastructure of satellites, underground cables, databases and server farms operated by a handful of global corporations. These services use energy, raw materials and underpaid labor; but provide quick access that satisfies our immediate desires. Artificial intelligence, robotics and virtual reality promise an alternative, extended experience of the world without analog burdens. Solutions optimised by technology are seemingly free of human error.

Lauren Lee McCarthy; Kate Crawford & Vladan Joler; the collective Tega Brain; Julian Oliver & Bengt Sjölén; as well as Julien Prévieux, all problematize vastly different aspects surrounding A.I. in our society. Elisabeth Caravella and Jaakko Pallasvuo employ the recognisable aesthetic evident in online tutorials to explore the possibilities of artistic expression using technical materials.

The exhibition has selected nine positions that represent a relevant spectrum of current themes and forms of expression. The materials and methods used to create all the works presented include screen castings, programming code, software applications, Instagram filters and graphics programs. The image carriers are screens and smart glasses that provide access to extended artificial worlds in which visitors can temporarily lose themselves. Simultaneously they are also mirrors; two-dimensional surfaces that reflect an image of ourselves in the act of viewing for us to find.

Participating Artists: Tega Brain, Julian Oliver & Bengt Sjölén, Elisabeth Caravella, Kate Crawford & Vladan Joler, Fleuryfontaine, Keiken + George Jasper Stone, Jakob Kudsk Steensen, Lauren Lee McCarthy, Jaakko Pallasvuo, Julien Prévieux

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