Text by Philipp Bollmann
“I_AM / Interfered Accessed Memories” is the title that Andreas Lutz (1981, Freiburg) has given to
his first solo exhibition at Galerie Mazzoli in Berlin.
Five works from the last three years are presented, all of which, in different ways, focus on the
dysfunctional or undecipherable communication in the relationships between man-man, manmachine,
and machine-machine. In particular, what Lutz examines in his work are the conditions,
conflicts, and changes that develop for people in conjunction with the introduction of intelligent
behavior and an assumed consciousness of machines.
The thematizing of this paradigm shift is especially clear in the work Deformation (2014). Speaking
into a microphone, one’s own voice is not amplified as expected, but transformed into a binary
code, which is then reproduced by a female robot voice. The original spoken voice is
superimposed by the robot voice and no longer understandable. Only the binary combinations of 1
and 0, recited here in a monotone and based on Kafka’s Der Prozess (1925) is what reaches the
recipient. This language transformation illustrates the immediate possibility of a manipulation that
extends to a potential total loss of information within an apparently autonomous system.
The installation Daemon (2016, together with Hansi Raber) can, in substance, be understood in
direct relationship to Deformation. Three semi-transparent surfaces are positioned in the room and
illuminated by projectors. When a visitor enters the darkened room, the system recognizes an
intruder, which disturbs the predominating harmony of the rationally generated displays –
synchronized processes within a perfect, autonomous system. The reactive audio-visual work is
activated by the visitor upon entering the installation. The human silhouettes merge with the
interferences created by the visitor and are absorbed by the three surfaces. With this work,
Andreas Lutz manages to vividly allegorize the permanent vigilance of an artificial intelligence and,
at the same time, pose the question as to whether people are even provided for in this process,
i.e., if they can find their bearings here.
The work Zwölftonform (2015) offers a complementary approach to the consideration of how
machines might deal with their autonomy in the future. Based on and inspired by the formalism of
the twelve-tone row, Lutz plays here with the assumption that this abstract form of music, i.e.,
sound, can have a harmonic effect on technically created intelligences. Thus, the real issue is no
longer that man makes music for people with help of machines, but that machines create an
aesthetic for machines and the human being remains merely an external observer. On the basis of
this work, one is inclined to pursue the question as to whether in the future, machines – just like
people – will be receptive to music, and thus to culture.
Inspired by the theory of hermeneutics, Hypergradient (2016) analyzes the different possibilities of
perceiving an abstract system of signs with respect to changing relationships. In two situations that
the artist calls “statement” and “interpretation” the same sequence of different combinations of
characters is transferred kinetically onto a flexible fabric. Analogous to the Latin alphabet, there are
26 different codes in a developed semiotic system, which combine in rhythmic succession into
abstract sentences, but which elude human translation. Contrary to the condition of the
“statement”, during the “interpretation”, with assistance from a changing lighting situation – despite
unvarying characters – the perception of this sequence is influenced. The dramatic alternation from
light and shadow illuminates and darkens different parts of the continuously transforming surface,
whereby the appearance of the work for the viewer permanently changes. As in the work
Deformation, Hypergradient also probes the possibilities of an unintentional alienation of meaning
through the influence of technology.
The video installation Wutbürger (2014) can be understood as a diametrically opposed
complement to the previously noted works. In collaboration with Christoph Grünberger, Andreas
Lutz draws the portrait of an archetypal German who is seized by personal rage and knows how to
find the reasons for his individual discontent in external circumstances. Powerlessness and an
inability to change his own situation results in frustration. The five-hour performance from which the
work is derived is based on the fictional treatment of the life of the protagonist and everyday man,
Stefan W. In a specially constructed box, the “enraged citizen”, embodied by Andreas Genschmar,
experiences different stations of his life. Whether a catharsis will set in remains open.
The acronym of the exhibition title, Interfered Accessed Memories, I_AM, can also be understood
as an independent title and relates to the inherent context of the works, unequivocally referencing
the humanist declaration “I am” (I think, therefore I am).
And thus the question is posed:
Who am I, really – in a time when the boundaries between man and machine are increasingly
Andreas Lutz (1981 Freiburg, Germany). His work has been exhibited at the Center for Art and
Media (ZKM) in Karlsruhe (Germany), the National Art Center Tokyo (Japan), the OpenArt Biennale
in Örebro (Sweden) and won the Excellence Award at the 19th Japan Media and Arts Festival. In
2017 he has been invited to exhibit by the 57th Venice Biennale, Antarctic Pavillon (Venice, Italy),
Berliner Festspiele (Berlin, Germany), ISEA2017 "Bio-creation and Peace" (Manizales, Colombia)
and FILE Festival, SESI Gallery (São Paulo, Brazil).