Symposium: Technology Is History

When 28 Sep 2018
1:00PM - 6:00PM
Where Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
1071 5th Ave
New York, NY 10128
United States

This day-long symposium explores notions of the future through the lenses of technology, politics, and art, and culminates the Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Chinese Art Initiative, which aims to expand the discourse on contemporary Chinese art and supports the acquisition of commission based works by contemporary artists born in Greater China.

Yuk Hui, a contributor to the exhibition catalogue for One Hand Clapping, delivers the keynote presentation. Featured speakers include Dawn Chan, Ho Rui An, Reza Negarestani, and Gala Porras-Kim. The day will be punctuated with films by Jesse Lerner, Fabien Giraud & Raphaël Siboni, Francisco Camacho Herrera, and Liu Chuang, as well as performances featuring Samson Young, Gamelan Dharma Swara, and Qasim Naqvi. Co-organized by exhibition curator Xiaoyu Weng and Brian Kuan Wood, founding editor of e-flux journal, the symposium is followed by a reception and viewing of One Hand Clapping.

Program curatorial statement
Technology might seem to propel us into the future faster, but what happens when there is unfinished business and we end up with the past instead? How does that happen? When ghosts of ancient or recent history resurface alongside the rise of new technologies and then spread with them, we might start to ask whether new technical powers are forcing us to confront deeply seated contradictions and inequities previously assumed to be minor shortcomings in otherwise healthy day-to-day functions. With a sense of rising panic, we might also ask whether such newfound technical powers are actually those very contradictions themselves—an ancient barbarism in our history or cosmology installed into every technological innovation we think we create.

Perhaps elementary-school classmates you haven’t thought about for decades are trolling you on Facebook, asking you to deny a massacre of your ancestors you only learned about last week. Suddenly you remember everything, but the next stage of development becomes impossible. Plans get canceled; debts to history return, but it is as if they were just invented. It’s as if the harder you build, the harder you push forward, the wider you open up cracks in the ground to expose alien artifacts, hidden evidence, and suppressed history. Perhaps they were always there, but then what is it that brings them to the surface now? Especially in parts of the world where technology helps to transcend difficult or traumatic historical circumstances, the arrow of progress may in fact move in reverse. The resources needed to condense time, to accelerate development and production, may only be available from the past, from the writing and layering of history.

We know that the artworks and artifacts contained in museums, as well as museums themselves, belong to a specific technology of progressive time hardwired into Western institutions. But in addressing other parts of the world, the linear chronology that organizes artworks and archaeological findings into museum collections becomes increasingly a matter of cosmology—the arrangement not of parts of the world but of worlds themselves, with their own laws of time, gravity, and historical change. The philosopher Yuk Hui has proposed that matters typically dealt with through theology, anthropology, or philosophy are questions of technologies—a crafting of the universe, determining its form. In this sense, virtual worlds, hypothetical worlds, or real worlds become extensions of mind. What would such a cosmotechnics mean for art, its spaces, and its history? And how might we prepare ourselves to perceive it?

Image courtesy of the organizer(s).

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