peter_weibel: technē_revolution

From the Human Portfolio

Because the essence of technology is nothing technological, essential reflection upon technology and decisive confrontation with it must happen in a realm that is, on the one hand, akin to the essence of technology and, on the other, fundamentally different from it.
Such a realm is art.

Martin Heidegger, The Question Concerning Technology

Peter Weibel’s art and his theoretical works both refer to the time when the vision of an artist and the skill of a craftsman were not only appreciated in a similar way, but in fact shared the same name. The Greek notion of technē (τέχνη) sheds light on the meaning of art before aesthetics: just like a craftsman-inventor, the artist brought into existence that which was not, revealing some truth about that which already existed.

Today, art and craft are seen as opposites and until very recently that was also true of art and technology. As Peter Weibel pointed out, ‘for some reason nowadays artists are not free enough to say: ‘oh! I can take any complex object, and even an object of science can be art.’ However, technology still, like art, has the ability to reveal the truth about its creator and about the world in which it comes into presence. By bringing art and technology back together Peter Weibel has created a powerful tool for exploring and understanding the contemporary — a tool, which also became the object of his study.

Apart from a small a number of works included to provide a better idea of the artist’s career, most pieces in this exhibition form an extensive inquiry into media: from a series of photographic paradoxes, which highlight the limitations of our perception, to the complex interactive installations commenting on the relationship between humans and modern technology. But whether envisaged as a logical game, a rebel’s tool, or a cold machine splitting reality and human identity, media technology remains primarily a reflection of the human condition and a key to understanding the contemporary.

Like the exhibition, the catalogue consists of four parts, each devoted to a particular aspect of our relationship with media. Each aspect suggested a particular kind of inquiry and a different approach — however, the separation is to a certain extent arbitrary: works featured in different parts were all made in the same period from the late 1960s to the early 1980s.