DESTE's slaughterhouse in hydra explores the impact of technology on human imagination

DESTE's slaughterhouse in hydra explores the impact of technology on human imagination

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DESTE presents dream machines exhibition in hydra, greece

 

From June 20 to October 30, 2023, the DESTE Foundation’s Slaughterhouse in Hydra, Greece, presents Dream Machines, curated by Daniel Birnbaum and Massimiliano Gioni. The exhibition explores the impact of technology on human imagination, while presenting a diverse range of works, from Ulf Linde’s reinterpretation of Marcel Duchamp’s Coffee Mill (1911), which was described by André Breton as an infernal machine, to a selection of recent experiments exploring the virtual realm.

 

Installed in and around the cave-like space, the exhibition combines loans from the Dakis Joannou Collection with newly commissioned works. The show features historical figures such as Duchamp and Wilhelm Reich, significant contemporary practitioners, highly celebrated artists such as Jeff Koons, Pipilotti Rist, and Pamela Rosenkranz, as well as a large number of self-taught outsiders.

 

During the exhibition’s opening, another significant event also unfolded—the official handover ceremony of Jeff Koons’ Apollo Wind Spinner (2020-22) to the Municipality of Hydra. The work was first installed at the Slaughterhouse in 2022 for the exhibition Jeff Koons: Apollo, and will remain permanently installed on the island, becoming one of its new landmarks. 

DESTE's slaughterhouse in hydra explores the impact of technology on human imagination
Jeff Koons, Apollo Wind Spinner, 2020 – 2022 © Jeff Koons installation view, Dream Machines DESTE Foundation Project Space, Slaughterhouse, Hydra (June 20 – Oct. 30, 2023) | image by Pinelopi Gerasimou (head image: Urs Fischer, Chalk & Cheese, 2022 © Urs Fischer; courtesy of the artist and Sadie Coles HQ, London installation view, Dream Machines DESTE Foundation Project Space, Slaughterhouse, Hydra (June 20-Oct. 30, 2023) | image by Pinelopi Gerasimou)

 

 

Deste on Techno-Optimism and Techno-Skepticism

 

Named after Brion Gysin’s influential Dreammachine from the 1960s, which was believed by notable figures such as William S. Burroughs, Kurt Cobain, Allen Ginsberg, Brian Jones, and Paul McCartney to have the potential to revolutionize human consciousness, the exhibition delves into both hopeful and unsettling moments in history.

 

The show reflects on how although artists always embraced emerging technologies, the art world’s prevailing attitude towards modern technology has not always been one of unbridled enthusiasm. Despite occasional bursts of techno-optimism in movements like Italian Futurism, Russian Constructivism, and E.A.T. (Experiments in Art and Technology) in the 1960s, key philosophers and critical theorists, including the sober representatives of the Frankfurt School like Walter Benjamin and Theodor Adorno, adopted a stance of techno-skepticism. This skepticism considered any form of playful affirmation or enthusiasm towards technology as, at best, naive. According to this view, technological reason embodies hegemonic control and the exploitative subjugation of nature. Its alienating effects are seen as antagonistic to more authentic forms of experience, such as the encounter with great art.

 

‘At a moment when we can no longer imagine a world without technology, it is vital to ask how we (the inhabitants of this planet) imagine the world and its machines,’ shares the team at DESTE Foundation (find more here). ‘Photography, film, radio, television, video, the computer, virtual reality, blockchain technology: the introduction of new machineries continuously change the possibilities of artistic expression.’

DESTE's slaughterhouse in hydra explores the impact of technology on human imagination
Urs Fischer, Chalk & Cheese, 2022 © Urs Fischer; courtesy of the artist and Sadie Coles HQ, London installation view, Dream Machines DESTE Foundation Project Space, Slaughterhouse, Hydra (June 20-Oct. 30, 2023) | image by Pinelopi Gerasimou

 

 

As DESTE shares, Walter Benjamin was the one who recognized a prophetic quality in certain artworks that hinted at technologies yet to be developed. Examples of such foresight can be found in 19th-century novels that seemingly anticipated cinema, like Jane Brontë’s Wuthering Heights, which reads like a screenplay. Similarly, Jorge Luis Borges’ branching narratives foreshadowed aspects of hypertext fiction. Duchamp’s The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, Even (The Large Glass) has been regarded as a precursor to virtual space. In 1967, John Cage explored how electronic media extended the human mind beyond the individual, connecting us to a shared virtual environment.

 

In contemporary times, popular culture and art abound with fantasies of simulated worlds and virtual realms. The tech avant-garde introduces optical devices promising futuristic electric dreams. A prominent techno-optimist, Ray Kurzweil, envisions a near future where virtual reality becomes completely realistic and captivating, consuming most of our time. Kurzweil predicts that the rapid advancement of technology will lead to the Singularity, an era of exponential growth and transformative change, where machines may surpass human intelligence and become sentient beings. This vision represents a disruptive moment in our evolution.

DESTE's slaughterhouse in hydra explores the impact of technology on human imagination
Judith Hopf, Phone User 5, 2021 – 2022 courtesy of the artist, Kaufmann Repetto Milan/New York, and Deborah Schamoni installation view, Dream Machines DESTE Foundation Project Space, Slaughterhouse, Hydra (June 20 – Oct. 30, 2023) | image by George Skordaras

 

Against the anticipation of the entire planet becoming an intelligent machine, critics of cognitive capitalism are raising concerns about digital technologies enabling a surveillance economy, potentially jeopardizing essential human rights. ‘Is it necessary to establish new zones of creative friction? Should artists in the future celebrate emerging technologies, or should they be part of a new resistance?’ DESTE asks through the Dream Machines exhibition. 

 

‘Clearly, technology itself does not have the answer. Asked this question, ChatGPT’s Open AI responds in a characteristically pointless way: Ultimately, it’s up to each individual artist to decide whether they want to celebrate emerging technologies or resist them. Both approaches can be valid and can lead to interesting and thought-provoking art.’

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Jeff Koons, Apollo Wind Spinner, 2020 – 2022 © Jeff Koons installation view, Dream Machines DESTE Foundation Project Space, Slaughterhouse, Hydra (June 20 – Oct. 30, 2023) | image by Pinelopi Gerasimou

DESTE's slaughterhouse in hydra explores the impact of technology on human imagination
Judith Hopf, Phone User 5, 2021 – 2022 courtesy of the artist, Kaufmann Repetto Milan/New York, and Deborah Schamoni installation view, Dream Machines DESTE Foundation Project Space, Slaughterhouse, Hydra (June 20 – Oct. 30, 2023) | image by Pinelopi GerasimouDESTE's slaughterhouse in hydra explores the impact of technology on human imagination

Judith Hopf, Phone User 5, 2021 – 2022 courtesy of the artist, Kaufmann Repetto Milan/New York, and Deborah Schamoni installation view, Dream Machines DESTE Foundation Project Space, Slaughterhouse, Hydra (June 20 – Oct. 30, 2023) | image by Pinelopi Gerasimou

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Urs Fischer, Chalk & Cheese, 2022 © Urs Fischer; courtesy of the artist and Sadie Coles HQ, London installation view, Dream Machines DESTE Foundation Project Space, Slaughterhouse, Hydra (June 20-Oct. 30, 2023) | image by Pinelopi Gerasimou

DESTE's slaughterhouse in hydra explores the impact of technology on human imagination
installation view, Dream Machines DESTE Foundation Project Space, Slaughterhouse, Hydra (June 20 – Oct. 30, 2023) | image by George Skordaras

DESTE's slaughterhouse in hydra explores the impact of technology on human imagination
installation view, Dream Machines DESTE Foundation Project Space, Slaughterhouse, Hydra (June 20 – Oct. 30, 2023) | image by George Skordaras

 

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installation view, Dream Machines DESTE Foundation Project Space, Slaughterhouse, Hydra (June 20 – Oct. 30, 2023) | image by Pinelopi Gerasimou

DESTE's slaughterhouse in hydra explores the impact of technology on human imagination
installation view, Dream Machines DESTE Foundation Project Space, Slaughterhouse, Hydra (June 20 – Oct. 30, 2023) | image by Pinelopi GerasimouDESTE's slaughterhouse in hydra explores the impact of technology on human imagination

Andro Wekua, Untitled, 2014 © Andro Wekua Installation view, Dream Machines DESTE Foundation Project Space, Slaughterhouse, Hydra (June 20 – Oct. 30, 2023) | image by Pinelopi Gerasimou

DESTE's slaughterhouse in hydra explores the impact of technology on human imagination
installation view, Dream Machines DESTE Foundation Project Space, Slaughterhouse, Hydra (June 20 – Oct. 30, 2023) | image by George Skordaras

DESTE's slaughterhouse in hydra explores the impact of technology on human imagination
installation view, Dream Machines DESTE Foundation Project Space, Slaughterhouse, Hydra (June 20 – Oct. 30, 2023) | image by Pinelopi Gerasimou 

DESTE's slaughterhouse in hydra explores the impact of technology on human imagination
installation view, Dream Machines DESTE Foundation Project Space, Slaughterhouse, Hydra (June 20 – Oct. 30, 2023) | image by Pinelopi Gerasimou

DESTE's slaughterhouse in hydra explores the impact of technology on human imagination
Pipilotti Rist, Selbstlos im Lavabad (Selfless in the Bath of Lava) (Bastard Version), 1994 Single – channel video and sound installation, color, on mobile phone; 6:20 min © Pipilotti Rist; courtesy of the artist, Hauser & Wirth, and Luhring Augustine | image by Pinelopi Gerasimou

 

 

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Pipilotti Rist, Selbstlos im Lavabad (Selfless in the Bath of Lava) (Bastard Version), 1994 Single - channel video and sound installation, color, on mobile phone; 6:20 min
Pipilotti Rist, Selbstlos im Lavabad (Selfless in the Bath of Lava) (Bastard Version), 1994 Single - channel video and sound installation, color, on mobile phone; 6:20 min
Pipilotti Rist, Selbstlos im Lavabad (Selfless in the Bath of Lava) (Bastard Version), 1994 Single - channel video and sound installation, color, on mobile phone; 6:20 min
Pipilotti Rist, Selbstlos im Lavabad (Selfless in the Bath of Lava) (Bastard Version), 1994 Single - channel video and sound installation, color, on mobile phone; 6:20 min
Seth Price, Untitled Film/Right, 2006, 16 mm film, silent, duration: 14 min
Seth Price, Untitled Film/Right, 2006, 16 mm film, silent, duration: 14 min
Thomas Bayrle, Superstars, 1993, film, sound, duration: 11:04 min © Thomas Bayrle, VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn / courtesy the artist and neugerriemschneider, Berlin
Thomas Bayrle, Superstars, 1993, film, sound, duration: 11:04 min © Thomas Bayrle, VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn / courtesy the artist and neugerriemschneider, Berlin
Thomas Bayrle, Superstars, 1993, film, sound, duration: 11:04 min © Thomas Bayrle, VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn / courtesy the artist and neugerriemschneider, Berlin
Thomas Bayrle, Superstars, 1993, film, sound, duration: 11:04 min © Thomas Bayrle, VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn / courtesy the artist and neugerriemschneider, Berlin
Urs Fischer, Chalk & Cheese, 2022, animatronics, chip, acrylic paint, silicon, wigs, 180, 3 x 193 x 53, 3 cm © Urs Fischer. courtesy the artist and Sadie Coles HQ, London
Urs Fischer, Chalk & Cheese, 2022, animatronics, chip, acrylic paint, silicon, wigs, 180, 3 x 193 x 53, 3 cm © Urs Fischer. courtesy the artist and Sadie Coles HQ, London
Nathalie Djurberg & Hans Berg, It Will End in Stars, 2018 VR produced in collaboration with Acute Art
Nathalie Djurberg & Hans Berg, It Will End in Stars, 2018 VR produced in collaboration with Acute Art
Nathalie Djurberg & Hans Berg, It Will End in Stars, 2018 VR produced in collaboration with Acute Art
Nathalie Djurberg & Hans Berg, It Will End in Stars, 2018 VR produced in collaboration with Acute Art
Nathalie Djurberg & Hans Berg, It Will End in Stars, 2018 VR produced in collaboration with Acute Art
Nathalie Djurberg & Hans Berg, It Will End in Stars, 2018 VR produced in collaboration with Acute Art
Philippe Parreno, The Writer, 2007, video (color, sound) screened on a LCD screen 12 x 17,4 x 2 cm duration: 3 min and 58 sec. courtesy the artist and Gladstone Galler
Philippe Parreno, The Writer, 2007, video (color, sound) screened on a LCD screen 12 x 17,4 x 2 cm duration: 3 min and 58 sec. courtesy the artist and Gladstone Galler
Philippe Parreno, The Writer, 2007, video (color, sound) screened on a LCD screen 12 x 17,4 x 2 cm duration: 3 min and 58 sec. courtesy the artist and Gladstone Galler
Philippe Parreno, The Writer, 2007, video (color, sound) screened on a LCD screen 12 x 17,4 x 2 cm duration: 3 min and 58 sec. courtesy the artist and Gladstone Galler
Pamela Rosenkranz, Healer (Waters), 2019 robot, Circuit Board Control, Units, LED light, 3D printed head and tail, kirigami skin 120 x 6 cm © Pamela Rosenkranz. courtesy the artist and Sprüth Magers | image by Christian Sardi
Pamela Rosenkranz, Healer (Waters), 2019 robot, Circuit Board Control, Units, LED light, 3D printed head and tail, kirigami skin 120 x 6 cm © Pamela Rosenkranz. courtesy the artist and Sprüth Magers | image by Christian Sardi
Pamela Rosenkranz, Healer (Waters), 2019 robot, Circuit Board Control, Units, LED light, 3D printed head and tail, kirigami skin 120 x 6 cm © Pamela Rosenkranz. courtesy the artist and Sprüth Magers | image by Christian Sardi
Pamela Rosenkranz, Healer (Waters), 2019 robot, Circuit Board Control, Units, LED light, 3D printed head and tail, kirigami skin 120 x 6 cm © Pamela Rosenkranz. courtesy the artist and Sprüth Magers | image by Christian Sardi
Andro Wekua, Untitled, 2014 fake hair, silicone, wax, polymer plaster, PU foam, steel, glass, synthetic rope, aluminum cast, fabric, motors, electronics, mechanics 168 x 60 x 161 cm
Andro Wekua, Untitled, 2014 fake hair, silicone, wax, polymer plaster, PU foam, steel, glass, synthetic rope, aluminum cast, fabric, motors, electronics, mechanics 168 x 60 x 161 cm

project info: 

 

 

name: Dream Machines

curation: Daniel Birnbaum and Massimiliano Gioni
location: DESTE Foundation Slaughterhouse, Hydra, Greece
artists: ACM, Thomas Bayrle, Emery Blagdon, Lee Bul, Maurizio Cattelan, Nathalie Djurberg & Hans Berg, Marcel Duchamp, Cao Fei, Urs Fischer, Fischli & Weiss, H.R. Giger, Brion Gysin, Camille Henrot, Judith Hopf, Jeff Koons, Mire Lee, Ulf Linde, Abu Bakarr Mansaray, James Tilly Matthews, Jakob Mohr, Vera Molnar, Henrik Olesen, Philippe Parreno, Seth Price, Wilhelm Reich, Pipilotti Rist, Pamela Rosenkranz, Mika Rottenberg, Sturtevant, Takis, Andro Wekua, Ulla Wiggen, and Anicka Yi

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