EXTENSIONS VOL II - COSMOLOGY
Black Quantum Futurism, Lea Porsager, Marie Kølbæk Iversen
Ida Kvetny og Helene Nymann
Curated by Radar Contemporary
By cand.mag in art history Ida Schyum
How did it all begin, and what will the future look like? Cosmology deals with the past evolution of the universe to answer these exact questions. But humans cannot repeat the big explosions of the past to know for sure. Instead, we must dig up extragalactic fossils and put them together into never fully provable hypotheses, as a reminder of human’s the eternally limited knowledge.
From when Galileo Galilei discovered that we are not the center of the universe to Einstein's theory of relativity perceiving time and space as interdependent. The way we imagine the origin and structure of the universe is crucial to our self-perception and worldview, which is reflected further into science and art. Radar Contemporary is an exhibition platform for artists working with technology. Thus, they have created the exhibition Cosmologies to reflect on whether our digital present is changing our whole conception of the cosmos and how the technologies we use determine our knowledge of the universe.
Through intuition, shamanism, esotericism, decolonial tools, and mnemonic techniques, the artists in the exhibition present approaches to the universe, breaking with the Western traditions of science. Thus, they expand not only our narratives about the cosmos but our understanding of ourselves in relation to the rest of the universe.
Radar Contemporary is an artist-run exhibition platform for artists working in the intersection between technology and art. Radar Contemporary was founded by Ida Kvetny and Diana Velasco, and Cosmology is their second exhibition in the exhibition series Extensions, investigating technologies as extensions of the human.
In BQF’s video, a voice-over explains how they are a collective creating new ways to approach reality. They challenge the universalized and rationalized Western linear conception of time, as it frames our reality and controls our actions. Consequently, BQF insist on manipulating this temporality to create alternative futures.
Their central argument is based on the intertwined and plural temporalities in quantum physics as opposed to the linear conception of time. Western time is thus more unreal than the narratives about potential times from ancient African cosmologies. Therefore, BQF regards afrofuturistic science fiction as a speculative rethinking of the world rather than false fictions.
The sound of the video is accompanied by quantum physical visualizations and props from African cosmology. In between, film footage from residential areas in Philadelphia is shown, pointing to particular Afrofuturistic actions to free black people from the aftermath of colonialism and slavery.
Ida Kvetny has intuitively mediated her subconscious ideas of the future into a virtual universe and augmented sculptures. Here a half-human half-tree stands in an elevated position watching over a gloomy landscape as if it were Yggdrasil. Around the tree, women hang in contorted positions. Below, cyborgs are gesturing with tubes connected to them, and muscular metallic bodies dance on skin-like surfaces. The boundary between the biological and the virtual world is blurred.
In Greek mythology, Eos is the goddess of the dawn and daughter of the Titan Hyperion. Kvetny's work is inspired by Dan Simmons' science fiction novel Hyperion, which describes a future intergalactic reality. Herein, an assemblage of artificial intelligences has bred a diabolical figure controlling that mankind does not surpass their technological intelligence. Like a mythological tale about the consequences of humanity's hubris, Kvetny's work questions what digital dawn we are witnessing and how our bodies will adapt to the future.
What if the theosophist Helena P. Blavatsky gave birth to her successor Annie Besant, who then gave birth to Niels Bohr, and his testicles spat out Angela Merkel?
Visual artist Lea Porsager has devised this thought experiment entangling people into a web of births. Therefore, she had four people hypnotized into believing that they were born out of a hat as Blavatsky, Beasant, Bohr, and Merkel. They all have in common to have worked with atomic physics. Blavatsky, with an occult definition of the atom as an indivisible substance transferred between humans. Besant continued Blavatsky's thoughts into the definition of a permanent atom containing the energies of its past experiences reincarnated in new forms. Niels Bohr wrote an atomic model of the quantified energies in the atom, and Angela Merkel is a Ph.D. in the energy loss taking place when atoms are reorganized into new molecules.
In the work, Porsager has recorded the hypnotized people explaining how it feels to be in the bodies of others. Meanwhile, one can hear a spinning cat recalling the spinning motions that occur at both the atomic and astronomic levels. On top of that, the video shows hashtags such as #PUSSY and #MasturbatoryPowertool best seen through 3D glasses. The work thus points to unconventional feminist and esoteric tools to observe the cosmos with.
What happens when people encounter fright? Based on her own birth experience, which brought her in close contact with death, Marie Kølbæk Iversen explores fright in her work Star Messenger as a human condition and potential learning space. In the work, Kølbæk Iversen revisits her hallucinatory dream visions from the delivery room at Hvidovre Hospital and combines them with recordings from the Brorfelde Observatory. Inspired by shamanic practices understanding fright as a dangerous but extremely potent learning space, the work investigates the dynamics a look at fright beyond trauma can bring to light. Thus, Star Messenger is an extension of Kølbæk Iversen's research on fright as a transformative potential between non-industrialized and industrialized worlds.
The title of the work comes from Galileo Galilei's masterpiece Siderius Nuncius from 1610, which can be translated as Star Messenger. Herein, Galilei presented his discovery of Jupiter's four largest satellites, including the moon Io, which over two months — slowly but consistently — had conveyed its message to him: that the sun, and not the earth, is the center of the planets around us. With reference to this radical reshaping of how humanity understands itself in relation to the cosmos, Star Messenger asks what we know and how we know it.
In her work M. O. L., Helene Nymann illustrates how the ancient mnemotechnic Method of Loci works. At first, you use the memory of a well-known building and then you place icons associated with the things you want to remember inside the building's spaces. In Nymann's video, a bird guides us into her childhood home, where we in each room face different memory images. The route shows us the beauty of remembering as a counter-reaction to how we externalize information in our digital lives. Since memory is crucial for us to understand everything around us, Nymann shows us in her artworks alternative ways of remembering to see the world in differentiated ways.
One of Nymann's primary inspiration sources is astronomer and philosopher Giordano Bruno from the 16th century. He invented a method to remember information through complex memory wheels that connect knowledge in new ways. As a consequence of his new thought patterns, Bruno ended up like Copernicus being able to imagine how the earth was not the center of the universe and that several worlds were possible. These thoughts made him extremely controversial in his time, and he was burned at the stake as a result of these pagan realizations. Thus, by introducing us to various knowledge constellations, such as planets inspired by Kabbalistic astrology, Nymann emphasizes the similarity between mnemonic techniques and our imagination about the world.