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Materialidades e Objectualidades

About Beyond Matter – Digital Interpretable Objects in a Planetary Context
In partnership with Universidade Lusófona - Centro Universitário do Porto

Lívia Nolasco-Rózsás

University College London and ZKM | Karlsruhe





Digital objects are manifold and can manifest as a bug, a virus, a hardware component, a piece of code, a bunch of binary numbers, or a set of data. They are “objects that take shape on a screen or hide in the back end of a computer program, composed of data and metadata regulated by structures or schemas” (Hui, 2016, 1). Aside from the fact that they are composed of data, they may be works of art contextualized in an exhibition and thus made interpretable to their human observers. Bruno Latour described the curatorial aim of the exhibition Iconoclash (ZKM | Karlsruhe, 2002) as inviting visitors to become “friends of interpretable objects” (Latour, 2002, 17), a phrase he borrowed from Migel Tamen (2001). The exhibition included various digital and analog objects, some of which were works of art. Of course, that wasn’t the first instance when an exhibition emphasized the objecthood of artworks, and recently an object-oriented approach has re-appeared in ontology and in aesthetics. This has resulted in a “weird formalism” that implies that the beholder and artwork fuse into a third object (see Harman, 2020), regardless of the artwork’s medium.
This talk will analyze the digital objects and their planetary context through case studies provided by the international, collaborative, practice-based research project, “Beyond Matter. Cultural Heritage on the Verge of Virtual Reality”. Beyond Matter engaged with a contemporary shift in the production and mediation of visual art within institutional frameworks that is largely attributable to the rapid development and ubiquitous presence and use of computation and information technology, specifically augmented and virtual reality but also artificial intelligence.


© Musa paradisiaca, 2018, Cortesy of Galeria Municipal do Porto.

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    Spoken in English

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Author's bio text

Lívia Nolasco-Rózsás is a curator and art historian. She has curated exhibitions around themes such as the genealogy and social impact of planetary computation or electronic surveillance and democracy at institutions of contemporary and media art worldwide since 2006, including at ZKM | Center for Art and Media Karlsruhe, Chronus Art Center (Shanghai), Nam June Paik Art Center (Seoul), Tallinna Kunstihoone, and the Ludwig Museum Budapest. In 2019 Nolasco-Rózsás started her curatorial research into the “virtual condition” and she is the initiator and head of the international collaborative project Beyond Matter at ZKM | Karlsruhe, which brings together several institutions such as Centre Pompidou (Paris) and the Aalto University. 

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