Opening reception : Wednesday, 10 July, 6-8 PM
“‘What is truth?’ said jesting Pilate, but would not stay for an answer.” - F. Bacon
The concept of truth is a central subject of philosophy, and its definition has proved elusive for thousands of years. In a time of universal deceit, various forms of propaganda and political truth-bending or outright condemnation of truth, it has become imperative to examine our relationship with it. What is it and what is its role? Why do we pursue knowledge of it, and claim to espouse it?
“To say of what is, that it is, or of what is not, that it is not, is true.” - Aristotle
Our language operates in modes of inquiry and assertion, under the assumption that each statement is true. This makes it frighteningly simple to take advantage of the gullible. Enter doubt, the defense mechanism against malicious misinformation. Tellingly, children do not know how to doubt until confronted with the violent destruction of trust caused by demonstrable falsity. Until that moment, a child presumes everything she is told to be true. Certainly it is difficult to imagine how a child could survive if it were otherwise.
“In order to seek truth, it is necessary once in the course of our life, to doubt, as far as possible, of all things.” - R. Descartes
Unlike the subjective moral properties (good, bad, etc.), we like to believe that truth is objective, and that it corresponds with the actual state of affairs in the world. Before the information age, the only source of truth was authority, whether spiritual, scholastic, or governing - one and the same for most of human history. Even publicly accessible libraries and archives are mediated by cultural self-selection and oftentimes authority of the state, especially under a totalitarian regime. With the dawn of the information age came accessibility to knowledge, and with that accessibility doubt has engulfed humanity. It could be said that doubt is the herald of inquiry and thus the harbinger of truth. Without doubt, no progress towards truth can be made. So let us doubt for just a moment the notion of truth itself. To believe something is ipso factobelieving it to be true. Each work in this exhibition is a provocation to self-examination. The spectator is invited to doubt their belief system by inquiring into their own process of belief formation.
“Truth that has been merely learned is like an artificial limb, a false tooth, a waxen nose; at best, like a nose made out of another's flesh; it adheres to us only because it is put on." - A. Schopenhauer
AES+F’s work from the “Islamic Project” series represents a vision of the West’s future through the prism of colonization by Islamic culture. The work is a type of psychoanalysis, presenting an apparent untruth that corresponds or strengthens an existing belief, thereby stimulating the sensation of cognitive dissonance. In contrast, the conceptual work of Imre Bak is a study in meaning - the deconstruction of an image is a demonstration of the fragility of meaning in representation.
Theo Triantafyllidis’s 3-channel piece “Seamless” is a simulation of an environment inhabited by animals and machines with no discernible difference in behavior, suggesting a post-human world where technology, unencumbered by its human creators, negotiates its place among greater nature. The VR work by Timur Si-Qin, “New Peace”, is a meditation on New Age propaganda, a ritual of indoctrination into a faith that is both secular and mystical. Similarly, the work of Simon Denny juxtaposes the language of tech advertising to the evangelism of spiritual and wellness propaganda. Across from “New Peace”, Morehshin Allahayari’s VR piece brings us into a dark spiritual world at the altar of an arcane god, guiding us through a primordial experience not unlike an ancient rite.
Provoking reflection on the global social network that most of humanity currently inhabits, both Signe Pierce and CrocodilePower exploit contemporary media structures in different ways, revealing our simulated sense of perpetual interconnectedness. Similarly, the work of Olia Lialina of the “Post Factual Series,” as well as that of Eva and Franco Mattes refer to contemporary internet mythology, informational logistics and belief formation in the mass-consciousness of humanity.
“What then is truth? A movable host of metaphors, metonymies, and anthropomorphisms: in short, a sum of human relations which have been poetically and rhetorically intensified, transferred, and embellished, and which, after long usage, seem to a people to be fixed, canonical, and binding.” - F. Nietzsche
The exhibitions includes works by AES+F, Morehshin Allahayari, Imre Bak, CrocodilePower, Simon Denny, Eva and Franco Mattes, Kosuth, Olia Lialina, Signe Pierce, Timur Si-Qin, Theo Triantafyllidis. “Quid est veritas” is organized by Anton Svyatsky.
VISIT & OPENING TIMES
472 Hackney Road | Unit 3, 1st Floor | London E2 9EQ | T +44 20 3302 6070
Thursday – Saturday | 12 pm – 6 pm