Hanmi Gallery is pleased to announce the 24th interim exhibition ‘Techne’ by five international artists whose work is concerned with technology, society and values. It is often suggested that current technologies are mainly concerned with efficiency, speed, information and communication but how are these developments affecting our daily lives? To what extent is our current technological apparatus laying future civilizational foundations? Where do we stand regarding technology?
‘’What human beings are and will become is decided in the shape of our tools no less than in the action of state men and political movements’’ Andrew Feenberg, Transforming Techonology.
This exhibition is loosely based on the writings of Professor Andrew Feenberg who throughout his life has developed a Critical Theory of Technology. His approach to technology is based on the arguable idea that the current Western sociotechnical system is impregnated with biased interests that undermine democracies. He sustains that the design and implementation of new technologies respond to utterly controlled and biased processes. In his opinion, since technology emerges as a value charged cultural product that influences and mediates most of our personal and professional activities, it is essential to put technology under critical scope in order to understand what sort of society we are living in.
Techne aims to be a platform from which to re-evaluate our relation with technology by questioning the foremost grounds of our current sociotechnical system. Taking different perspectives and using different media, the artists presented in this exhibition extensively enquire about the impacts of technology on our current society. Ian Brown and Simon Morse critically engage with such matters like the unseen impacts of technology on our daily lives and the repercussions of technological advancements over the environment. Helen Benigson reflects on the cybernetic world, a reality on its own, when investigating the negotiations between femininity, body, identity and fantasy. Jemima Brown examines social media websites such as Facebook to reflect on the global anxiety to create an appealing and sealable image of oneself. The very concept of technology is put into question by Pablo A. Padilla who suggests that technology is an integral part of human beings, that it is there within us. For him, technology is inextricably connected to our innate curiosity that ultimately leads us to unveil the hidden aspects of reality. Each of the artists tackles issues around the noticed and unnoticed changes that society is irremediably undergoing to the extent of transforming the very basis of our existence.
Techne proposes some food for thought for interested audience. This exhibition encourages audiences to critically engage with the works and the ideas presented. Since technology is exponentially becoming a central pillar that mediates most of our activities, we see in this exhibition an interesting platform from where to address such relevant contemporary issues.
The interdisciplinary body of work of Helen Benigson includes performance, video installations, printmaking, text, sound, music and collaborating. Her video pieces are in fact a surreal journey through highly coloured and saturated sort of hallucinations that investigate concepts such as identity, femininity, body and fantasy in the cyberspace. Her landscapes often juxtapose images taken from the Internet such as war games and online poker saloons, recorded images and other static images like flowers, lollypops and sushi. This eclectic imagery is often mixed with MTV-like pop-rap songs taking the viewer into a sort of sexy-pink baroque style apocalypse. Her work underlines the blurred distinction between reality, fantasy and identity when drowned into the cyber-world.
Ian Brown’s practice is concerned with investigations into the advancements of technology –testing the progression and optimism associated with these developments against the problems of our everyday usage of them. Using performative and installation based video works, computer generated photography prints and web based artworks, his work relates to how these advancements are often at odds with how we are able to, or wish to, utilize and interact with them. Some of his works often bring together fictional and non-fictional accounts of natural and technological disasters.
The work of Jemima Brown includes sculpture, installation, video, painting and drawing. Her heavy customized sculptures navigate between the animate and the inanimate. She is interested in the act of self-creation to the extent that over the years she created Dolly, an avatar of herself, exploring the possibilities of it taking life of its own to ultimately become her collaborator in the authorship of artwork. Brown’s sculptures are personal, suggestive and plausible manifestations of the self’s identity. By customizing, sizing and resizing her sculptures, Jemima Brown has developed a rich imagery of materials, textures and appearances. Her visual translation of a virtual social structure in the Facebook drawings’ series is an attempt to investigate the collective hysteria to create an artificial, but believable, identity of ourselves.
The sculptural objects of Simon Morse find themselves on the edge between utility and inscrutability. Silently hanging on the walls, they are a reminder of our dependence on machines and our often incapability to grasp their real function. As we get used to them we tend to overlook them but at the same time we are always expecting them to fulfill whatever function they are programmed to perform. His work investigates the way the technological apparatus is structured and the potential limiting effects of this on thought, communication and problem solving. Some of his pieces also questions if we have reached a situation where we are unable to solve the problems created by technology.
Pablo A Padilla’s body of work is concerned with sensory distortion. Always working on site-specific basis, he understands environments as malleable entities subject to be redefined. In his opinion, space and sound are different sides of the same coin, if one of them is distorted the psychological and physiological perception of a given environment irremediably changes. By disfiguring spaces, he places the audience in an awkward position that leads to a total reconsideration of the intervened space. For him environments are not just spaces but potential entities in which to inscribe narratives and visual stories.
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