1948 Unbound

1948 Unbound

Haus der Kulturen der Welt (HKW)

© Torsten Blume and Christian Lueger.

November 9, 2017
1948 Unbound
Unleashing the technical present
November 30–December 2, 2017
Haus der Kulturen der Welt (HKW)
John-Foster-Dulles-Allee 10
10557 Berlin

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With the beginning of the atomic, digital, and petrochemical era, the year 1948 marks a turning point in the history of Earth, as the planet is transformed into a space of technical operations. The smallest building blocks—molecules, genes, bits of information—are worked upon and manipulated, unleashing a cascading dynamic of global-scale systems. From the rubble left behind by the fury of two World Wars, new technopolitical formations and dreams of universalisms emerge—Cybernetics, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the introduction of the transistor, the Great Stalin Plan for the Transformation of Nature. Based on five of these blocks, Switches, Seeds, Hydrocarbons, Tokens, and Chance— more than 40 scientists, theoreticians, practitioners, and artists investigate the path dependencies that have both empowered and disempowered ever since 1948 and jointly develop scenarios beyond the technospheric entanglement.

Switches: Discursive installation
Thursday, November 30, 7pm

The unleashing of the technosphere is the result of activating and operating numerous tiny Switches. With the advent of the point-contact transistor, Claude Shannon’s information theory, and cybernetics, the year 1948 represents the material and theoretical starting point for a universal language of 0 and 1. From then on, the digital makes up the foundational cultural technique of a present saturated with circuits and electronics. Contributions from theory and art oscillate between diagnostic and speculative accounts of the bit’s role in configuring new space-time coordinates, as a pulse generator for the evolution of systems, and as an unreckoned mechanism for control seemingly always just out of reach.
With Morehshin Allahyari, Marie-Luise Angerer, Elie Ayache, Anna Echterhölter, Thomas Feuerstein, Alexander R. Galloway, Johnny Golding, Orit Halpern, Giuseppe Longo, Gerald Nestler, Julian Oliver, Sophia Roosth, Sarah Sharma, Felix Stalder, Ubermorgen.com

Seeds: Presentations, talks, performance
Friday, December 1, 3pm

The technological dissolution of the difference between internal and external conditions of life is manifest in the ways Seeds are handled. Largescale agronomic projects such as Trofim Lysenko’s anti-genetic experiments, the Great Stalin Plan for the Transformation of Nature, and the beginnings of the “Green Revolution” bear witness to a new attitude toward engineering, in both heredity and environments. At the same time, molecular biology provides fundamental ways to recombine the building blocks of life. A series of conversations explores the practices and ideologies behind the collapse of modification and mutation. A subsequent performance of micro-processions conjures historical and current moments of the agroindustrial technosphere.
With Luis Campos, knowbotiq, Sophia Roosth, Alexander Tarakhovsky, and others

Hydrocarbons: Cinematographic multichannel installation
Friday, December 1, 7:30pm

Hydrocarbons plunges into the decadence of the oil era. Scenes from the feature film The Wages of Fear (1953), a variety of research materials, and the sounds of oil form a multichannel installation which will explore the speculative cultural genre termed “Pétro Noir.” The film sequences open up perspectives on the molecular basis of the geopolitical-industrial complex of petrochemistry, as well as on mobility, consumption, waste, and adventure. Which technical apparatuses, forms of media, and cultural techniques promote the unbinding of the hydrocarbon man?
With Dieter Hiller, Bernd Hopfengärtner, Alexander Ilitschewski, Alexander Klose, Stephanie LeMenager, Jens Soentgen, Benjamin Steininger, Kathryn Yusoff, and others

Tokens: Presentations, talks, performance
Saturday, December 2, 3pm

With the establishment of universal standards for industrial goods, credit systems, and human rights around 1948, the world is transformed into a technocratic space of transactions. Orchestrated by the material and virtual circulation of Tokens—universal currencies, data, and bodies— economic infrastructures and legal mechanisms emerge and begin to regulate a global society. Within a visual-discursive scenery, theoretical and artistic contributions contour the technical standards of an infinitely circulating present.
With Anil Bawa-Cavia, Benjamin Bratton, Anna Echterhölter, Victoria Ivanova, Oscar Guardiola-Rivera, Gerald Nestler, Patricia Reed, Vera Tollmann & Boaz Levin

Chance: Visual performative experiment
Saturday, December 2, 7:30pm

Around 1948, chance becomes operative when game theory, simulations, and scenario planning are used for algorithmic selection strategies. It is a time that denotes the shift into thinking in probabilities. During this time, think tanks such as The Research and Development (RAND) Corporation publish their book of operations, A Million Random Digits (1947–55) which became a catalyst for this shift, providing a list of automatically generated random numbers, along with a manual for their use. It bridges, in essence, ancient ritualistic prediction techniques and the neuroadaptive futures of what came to be known as “machine learning.” Chance is a visual-performative experiment in which contingency itself becomes technology.
With Josh Berson, Benjamin Bratton, Seth Bullock, Katrina Burch aka Yoneda Lemma, Luis Campos, Elena Esposito, Alexander R. Galloway, Oscar Guardiola-Rivera, Orit Halpern, Giuseppe Longo, Nahum, Tea Palmelund, Sascha Pohflepp, Helena Shomar, Alexander Tarakhovsky, Inigo Wilkins, Kathryn Yusoff

Concept and realization by Katrin Klingan, Christoph Rosol, Nick Houde, and Janek Müller in collaboration with Gerald Nestler (Switches), Benjamin Steininger & Alexander Klose (Hydrocarbons), Victoria Ivanova & Patricia Reed (Tokens), and Sascha Pohflepp (Chance).

Technosphere (2015-19) collaborates with the publishing platform and online journal continent. toward experimental communication of project outputs. The latest continent. issue “Extending the dialogue about the technosphere” will be released in the form of a video installation during the event.

A project of Technosphere (2015-19) in the context of 100 Years of Now, which is supported by the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media due to a ruling of the German Bundestag. 

knowbotiq’s performance is supported by Pro Helvetia, the Swiss Arts Council.

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Haus der Kulturen der Welt (HKW)
November 9, 2017

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