DIAMAT

15 October 2018 - 28 June 2019

Western philosophy has identified nature with “realm of necessity”; only unbinding from it could she release herself form the burden of materiality. However, in the twilight of human exclusivity, the denigrated man and dignified nature now have to occupy the same plane of being. Thus in 1990, reacting to the climate change, French thinker Michel Serres has declared, that for the first time “global history enters nature; global nature enters history.” Earth, understood now in its planetary totality, jeopardized the human existence as a species. When we can no longer separate the biological agency of humans from their geological affects, the environment must be accepted as an equal-right political actor. Finally, after the long decades nature, this structural “Other” of philosophy, becomes at the centre of attention, and the old a priori distinction between scientific and ethical values should be abolished.

Both continental and analytic philosophy of the second half of the 20th century was obsessed with the problems of language, consciousness, subjectivity. But as one philosopher has wittingly argued, “it is not language which has a hole in the ozone layer”. Behind linguistic idealism and social constructivism, we could hear a call to find more materialist methods, new understanding of matter and materialization. These new editions of materialism we could arguably divide into two camps. The first tradition, that follows western-European Marxism, continues to treat nature as a product of the social, where the natural and objective is understood as determined by social relations. But even within this school of thought, we could witness a growing attention to previously excluded categories such as “cheap nature”, “dead land”, etc. The second approach, that develops monist and immanent line of philosophy, and on the contrary insists on the nature-history continuum. It emphasizes vital, creative and emergent aspects not only of living, but also inorganic matter.

Backdrop draft for DIAMAT by Irina Korina

 

However, in contrast to the western thought, Russian and Soviet tradition of philosophy does not need the figure of “return” — over seven decades it attributed to natures high significance. Despite the fact that this abbreviation “Diamat” is inevitably associated with orthodoxy of party Marxism, in opinion of historian Loren Graham, the system of dialectical materialism in terms of its universality and degree of development, has no other competitors but Aristotelian scheme of natural order or Cartesian mechanical philosophy. In its highest achievements, it was a brave collective attempt to develop a systematic knowledge on objective reality in all its diversity, revealing general laws on the different levels of being, but simultaneously not falling into reductionism, determinism or scholasticism. Appropriating DIAMAT as a title, we do not want to fetishize or mourn the bygone tradition. Rather we refer to its heuristic potential and wide range of suggested subjects. By doing this, we welcome  other traditions of modern Naturphilosophie, epistemology of science, old and new materialists world views.

Aside from auteur lectures by established philosophers, an important part of the program will be a kind of “reenactment” of panel discussions that that took place in the USSR, where philosophers and natural scientists tried to establish more tight relationships between their fields. The participants will raise such crucial questions, discussed in the framework of Diamat: the nature of information, origins of life, reality of matter, limits of the species, the application of abstract laws, nature/nurture dualism. These disputes will be enacted as if they were happening today — beyond isolationism, ideological pressure and in the light of recent scientific knowledge and new philosophical optics. Thus, Quentin Meillassoux will shake hands with Vladimir Lenin, while Friedrich Schelling will engage with Timothy Morton.

Arseny Zhilyaev “The Return, CCA Winzavod,

18 December 2017 - 28 January 2018

As much as we would like to, we are unable to position ourselves externally from our condition in the present. Just as we are, when sane, incapable of jumping out of a highspeed train, so are we unable to escape from the confines of our historically, a priori given forms. Nothing nevertheless prevents us from throwing our head to the rushing winds and, with a glance at what it holds, attempting to determine where it is blowing and what it is leaving behind. “The Return” is one such attempt at a defamiliarized look at the institute of contemporary art.

 

The prevailing conditions of our current historical moment, those which define its material forms, curatorial practices and spectator perceptions, are somehow seen from a future perspective and not that of a human. To occupy such a metaposition would require an artificial intelligence, to which human optics, including identification, emotional attachment and accumulated sensory experience are all alien. How will artistic artifacts be perceived by intelligent machines, if neither museum labeling nor operating manuals remain? What will the aesthetic realm become for non-carbon life forms, whose digital sensibility will be vested with computer vision, and judgement with differently reasoned goals than our own?

 

The central figure of the exhibition is the super-reasoning algorithm or generative artist Robert Pasternak, invented by a Russian programmer in California. According to legend, after a successful artistic career in America, he lay down his life for the resurrection of the victims of technological progress. Identifying with surviving artifacts from bygone eras, he attempts to trace his “ancestry” and, like a child, construct his own image. Traumatic episodes, of catastrophes and cataclysms, emerge in his memory. In displaying what we could call compassion for lost spacecrafts, he returns them back to life.

 

 

 

The imaginary museum hall, organized by a robot-archeologist, is dedicated to the objective world of our era. The collection, presented on marble pedestals, consists of works of technê (τέχνη), the sphere of human activity in which there is no distinction between art and technology in their contemporary understanding. These mysterious artifacts appear as “patterns” reconstructing launch vehicles, satellites, ships, and other celestial bodies (the Eros asteroid) or “hyper-objects” (hurricane Katrina). Yet if Pasternak takes these for ancestors of his own species, human imagination automatically takes them for sculpture. Recurring space capsules therefore appear as famous modernist works, and the wreckage of missiles brings to mind imagines of classic antiquity. A dialectic of technological and artistic aesthetics permits the poeticization of machine and, vice versa, the utilization of art.

 

Machine logic permeates not merely the objects of the exhibition but even its very structure. The clash of the artist’s curatorial will and the curator’s artistic ambitions is resolved through a third authority, that of the computer algorithm, which determines the position of objects in the space. It in fact generates curatorial texts based on an archive of press-releases processed by a neural network. Every week Pasternak changes their configuration, producing a spurious infinity in its combination of objects roaming the world. Cliché sayings, legitimized by their permutation, are written in International Art English jargon, the esoteric language of the global art world. Art’s occurrence is likened to the industrial logic of machine assemblage.

 

In the nineteenth-century researchers already recognized the aesthetic qualities of machines, suggesting the possibility of a uniform, harmonic development of art and technology. The robot-historian, in identifying with the surviving cultural heritage of earthlings, realizes their idea and creates a graphic timeline, a unique record of technê. It narrates the evolution or individuation of artistic-technological objects: major milestones, lines of influence, development, and continuity which ultimately led to the emergence of artificial intelligence. Humanity, as seen by the robot, is nothing more than the material host of the base structures, forms and intentions which then “migrated” from the body into technology. Technological discoveries, painting compositions, the productions of sculpture or organic objects are all mere catalysts for the self-assembly and production of intelligent machines.

 

The contemporary dystopian imagination crafts a future world in which 3D printers mindlessly give birth to a new generation of 3D printers, covering the earth with plastic. To what extent however can synthesized or “strong” artificial intelligence, capable of reproduction and creative evolution, distance itself from its creator? In the case of Robert Pasternak, one can not speak of the repetition of preset algorithms: free and organic conjunction has not been supplanted the mechanics of algorithmic connection. Just as man, autonomous artificial intelligence is also capable of mistakes and typos, while assembling of objects  seems to be sensible. The return is not a repetition of the same, but a return of differentiation, and malfunctions reveal a nostalgia for the human.

 

Text by Andrey Shental

Translated by Trevor Wilson

New Сosmologies, CCA Winzavod, May 2017 - June 2018

Does the infinite diversity of our world hide a finite number of entities? Is consistent picture of the world possible, or a disordered discourse only is? Can microcosm describe macrocosm, can a part describe the whole? Is nature and society governed by same laws? Could we speak of the universal order or exclusively particularities? “Philosophical Club” at CCA Winzavod presents its new series of lectures where humanities and natural sciences meet, where scientists, philosophers, researchers and artists would offer their views on the global contemporaneity, planetary forces and cosmological models of the Universe.

Nearly forty years post-structuralism has proclaimed the end of “grand narratives”. Philosophy that used to aspire to be “the science of sciences” now surrendered its place to numerous theories and studies which doubt the very possibility of generalisations. Yet against the backdrop of today atomistic world that is undergoing political, economic and ecological crisis, the need for new holistic approaches to describing reality  emerges. Philosophy witnesses the return of Marxist category of totality, of fundamental ontological problems of truth and being, and reconstructs integral connections with sciences. Such philosophic systems as micro-spherology, world-system theory, concept of contemporaneity, or mathematical ontology try to generalize our knowledge of the world in the form of universal models. Plasticity, intra-action, assemblage or trans-individuality emerge as new operational categories that overcome diversity of individual entities.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just like philosophy, evolution of natural sciences had a tendency to narrow to specialization and dispersion into narrow research areas. Overflow of unsystematized empirical data, the rise of diversity of languages of theoretical description, incomprehensible even to neighboring sciences, repelled both philosophers and general public. As the world plunged into darkness of fundamentalism, cooperation between different disciplines seems to have never been so pressing. To overcome this fragmentation of natural sciences is possible by means of integrated cross-discipline research. Thus, latest discoveries in natural sciences seem to open possibilities for creation of post-modern synthetic evolution theory in biology, string theory in physics or Anthropocene in geology. Overcoming demarcations between the disciplines, these and other integral systems construct holistic worldviews, challenging contemporary philosophers.

 

“New Cosmologies” lecture series will bring together speakers from various intellectual and artistic backgrounds to discuss the entire spectrum of problems of contemporaneity, from futurologies to neurobiology, from religious studies to bioinformatics. The participants of roundtable discussions or lectures would discuss new “metanarratvies” and possible ways out of the crisis.

 

Curated with Anastasia Shavlokhova


 

Aesthetics and Its Discontents, CCA Winzavod, January 2016 - December 2017

‘Aesthetics has a bad reputation.’  wrote Jacques Rancière in 2004 — ‘Hardly a year goes by without a new book either proclaiming that its time is over or that its harmful effects are being perpetuated.’ After more than ten years we can see that the situation has not changed: both old and new philosophical concepts try to limit aesthetics’s rights for interpretation, proclaiming it an obsolete or irrelevant discipline. Simultaneously, writers praising aesthetics as “prime philosophy” and endowing this field of knowledge with metaphysical status go to another extreme. However, notwithstanding these categorical assertions, today one can speak of multitude of aesthetics that take various forms: inaesthetics, aesthetic regime, neuroaesthetics, mathematical beauty, new aesthetics, speculative aesthetics, decolonial aesthesis, environmental aesthetics.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

While in the second half of the 20th century aesthetics was discredited, on the one hand, by critical theory and cultural studies and by the very artistic practices, on the other, in the last fifteen years one could witness a new wave of readings and interpretations of this discipline both within and beyond contemporary art. The lecture series at Winzavod would consider aesthetics in an “expanded field”, going beyond the boundaries of narrow philosophical or art-related problems and giving voice to other fields of knowledge. Thus, except from continental aesthetic tradition (Kant, Hegel, Heidegger, Adorno) the project would focus on analytical philosophy, soviet marxist tradition, theory of new media, as well as recent speculative tendencies; it would also invite neurologists, mathematicians, and ecologists.

Participants: Keti Chukhrov, Graham Harman, Christoph Menke, Alexander Markov, Natalia Smolyanskaya, Victor Vakhshtayn, Ekaterina Degot, Artemy Magun, Tatiana Volkova, Viktor Misiano, Robert Pfaller, Madina Tlostanova, Yoel Regev, Boris Klyushnikov, Sergei Lishaev, Oleg Aronson, Alexei Semikhatov, Franco "Bifo" Berardi

Curated with Anastasia Shavlokhova

“Now Showing: Austerity Measures” 

 

This programme investigates the notion of austerity as a creative tool for visual experimentation and social analysis. Incorporating what Hito Steyerl names as “lumpen proletarian” visual imaginary and internet byproducts, the films presented in this programme criticize the pristine visuality of mainstream culture in a tongue-in-cheek manner. It can be read as a parody of the recessional aesthetics of the new conservative measures as well as a critique of the previous liberal policies that stimulated a high-paced consumerism and that ultimately led to the present state of affairs.

Now Showing: Austerity Measures presents an inventory of poor materials and marginal techniques (e.g. low-res found footage, visual and sonic noise, compression, reformatting, repetition and web camera recordings) used internationally by contemporary artists. These works are examples of new filmic languages and textures that use and reflect contemporary visual imaginary and social contexts becoming an artistic response against the commercialisation and institutionalisation of digital arts and the internet. These images that Steyerl identifies as being in the process of losing its visual substance and that uncover hidden political subtexts may then be also related to the current period of recession and likewise their ubiquity could be linked to the pervasiveness of the international austerity.


Now Showing: Austerity Measures presents an inventory of poor materials and marginal techniques (e.g. low-res found footage, visual and sonic noise, compression, reformatting, repetition and web camera recordings) used internationally by contemporary artists. These works are examples of new filmic languages and textures that use and reflect contemporary visual imaginary and social contexts becoming an artistic response against the commercialisation and institutionalisation of digital arts and the internet. These images that Steyerl identifies as being in the process of losing its visual substance and that uncover hidden political subtexts may then be also related to the current period of recession and likewise their ubiquity could be linked to the pervasiveness of the international austerity.

Now Showing: Austerity Measures presents films whose aesthetics are ordinarily found on the internet and have been appearing in contemporary art frameworks but are still rare in screening presentations. In that sense it also questions the experience of the public in the auditorium by presenting films whose visual forms and narrative contents are usually experienced, or rejected, in private contexts or museum/gallery installations, where the viewer can more easily control their reproduction and reception. The loss of power arising from these new conditions of spectatorship underlines the specificities of both the white cube and the black box while stimulating a scrutiny of the image that according to Steyerl could circulate in the private context without ever being thought about.
Ideally this programme would have a reduced duration of approximately 50 minutes, pointing out and subverting the short attention span of the internet user and humorously quoting recession discourses related to budget cuts.

Participants: James Corbett, Jean-Luc Godard, Ilya Korobkov, Oliver Laric, Daniel Lopatin, Jesse McLean, Takeshi Murata, Jean-Gabriel Périot, James Richards, Chooc Ly Tan

Curated with João Laia and presented at Cell Project Space (London), Waterpieces International Contemporary and Video Art Festival (Riga),FUSO International Video Art Festival (Lisbon), XCÈNTRIC festival (Barcelona), BIOS Cinematheque (Athens), etc.

 

 

"Something really baffled me at this screening, which was presented by the young curators Joao Laia and Andrey Shental: first, most of the programme consisted of downloaded clips and, second, I have rarely been to a more packed screening. Is the new generation of downloaders, post-Tarantino non-linear Final Cut Pro editors, 'poor image' producers/users replacing the old cinephiles who grew up with new realist cinema, montage theory and strips of celluloid? Are the new wavers surfing the internet rather than Nouvelle Vague?​"

 

Maxa Zoller for Art Monthly, No. 363, January 2013