The Nam June Paik Art Center presents a special exhibition Our Bright Future-Cybernetic Fantasy from July 20 to November 5, 2017. This exhibition explores modern technology and art from the perspective of the ‘Cybernetics’ of Nam June Paik who not only gave relationship between the technological environment and the human being but also presented a futuristic vision to it. Under the themes of robots, combination, post-human, the 15 participating teams warn against the end of the geological era which has been led by humans and requires the birth of the new human. The participating artist Taeyeun Kim and Špela Petrič will give an artist talk on July 22 in conjunction with 2017 International Symposium of Nam June Paik Art Center, and four participating teams (diana band, Insook Bae, PROTOROOM, Unmake Lab) will lead a Technology/Media Workshop on every Saturdays in August. Also the celebration for the 1st floor renewal opening will be on July 20, accompanied by special performances by SUDDEN THEATER, Hyunjoon Chang and Kim Oki / Park Jiha / John Bell / Rémi Klemensiewicz.
‘Cybernetics’, a scientific study established by Norbert Wiener, was widely accepted in the field of scientific technology around the 1940s. The theory which aimed to equally control both living organisms and machines has dominated the trends of technological development, that is, the ‘Humanization of the Machine’ and the ‘Mechanization of the Human.’ The belief that technological development will open a new world to the human race is paralleled with the fear that the very technology will take not only jobs but also the human identity from us. Although we are on the brink of the advent of the strongest Artificial Intelligence, we are living on the earth which is devastated more than ever. So, is there a future for us? Are the two options of sustainability and apocalypse the only frame of our future? Or, is there another option available to us we’re missing?
The exhibition is composed of Robot, Interface, and Posthuman. Each of theme is intended to create various questions. The ‘Robot’ section features Nam June Paik’s Robot/People and Robot K-567, Yang Zhenzhong’s Disguise, Jinah Roh’s An Evolving GAIA, Jongjun Son’s Defensive Measure, and Zach Blas & Jemima Wyman’s im here to learn so :)))))). They not only successfully catch the conflict and oscillation caused by the coexistence between men and machines, but also accuse the man-machine cooperation system of being cracked. The ‘Interface’ section goes deeper into the crack of the man-machine cooperation system to try to make a new seam. PROTOROOM’s Feedback of MetaPixels-Language for Digital Atoms, Unmake Lab’s Rumor in the City and the City, and Joosun Hwang’s Mind!=Mind take down the black box of machines which isolate humans, and relocate the position of humans in the midst of machines. Besides, recent works such as Insook Bae’s The Sum and diana band’s Phone in Hand: Choir Practice are also presented, suggesting the solidarity of humans through machines. The ‘Posthuman’ section shows that the time has come when the boundary between the human and the non-human, having been destroyed by cybernetics, must be re-established in a network of horizontal relationships. Taeyeun Kim’s Island of A-life cultivates the artist’s DNA injected into a plant; Špela Petrič’s Miserable Machine converts mussels’ muscle contraction to the human labor system; Unknown Fields’ Rare Earthenware shows the process of collecting the raw material used for smart technologies, telling us that humans have been the geological power who has power over all creatures on the earth.
In his “Cybernated Art” in Manifestos (1965), Nam June Paik wrote that some specific frustrations caused by cybernated life, require only through accordingly cybernated shock and catharsis. So his argument is that the healing of the suffering in this cybernated life, or smart life of today, is possible only through smart technologies. The truly smart life is not the objectification of each other in which robots replace humans or in which humans control robots, but connecting deeply inside the technological environment and thereby making new interfaces between the human and nonhuman. The participating artists in the exhibition Our Bright Future- Cybernetic Fantasy encourage the birth of a new human by making cracks in the cybernated system and actively inquiring about our technological environment. In this way, the participating artists warn against the end of the geological era which has been led by humans, and requires the birth of the new human, by creating a new relationship between the human and the nonhuman.