Rohini Devasher and Raqs Media Collective
New Sensorium – Exiting Failures of Modernization
ZKM / Center for Art and Media,Karlsruhe, Germany
5 March – 4 September, 2016
The exhibition features the work of mostly non-Western, Asian artists – based on the classical definition of Asian: the Eurasian continent, minus Europe – and focuses on new sensory realms, indicating a new consciousness derived from globalization and digital technologies. Here, of course, sensorium means not only sensory inputs. It includes the accompanying cognition for reevaluating our changing living conditions. In this sense, our new sensorium is a collection of means enabling us to explore the transient close conjunction between our virtual and actual lives.
Just as the term Asian does not reflect a single culture or race, but rather a non-European tradition in Eurasia, »New Sensorium« offers a Logos essentially distinct from the European model, in that the work relies on intuitive ways that phenomena are handled, holistically integrating thought and action, without ever needing to bifurcate into subject/object. Western modernization’s accelerated hyperplasia of human affordance, derived from an anthropocentric subject/object dualist understanding of the world, is increasingly squeezing all our planetary co-inhabitants. The dualism which gave birth to it is, as Bruno Latour and others have pointed out, not actually a functioning ideology, but rather a technical method of classification. Now, with our newfound informational environment, and advances in digital data creation and distribution technologies, the relationships between the material, information, and our physicality are ripe for review. Many digital-native artists have lived their lives within the unstable and dynamic situation of connecting and disconnecting premodern or traditional cultural memory and the contemporary, in the context of the ideological shifts towards capitalism and the urbanization of Asia during these thirty years. They utilize digital media as a tool to create new living environments to retain their sanity.
Digital space is where they thrive and collaborate on survival methods for political, social, and environmental crises in their actual surroundings. Born in such a process, sensation, sensibility, and perception, in a sense, potentially have productive, critical, poetic power; different from similar solutions born in actual space. Examining closer the philosophical background of »New Sensorium«, we readily find the primitivism of sensing spirituality. And from this primitivism derives the new horizon of materialism and mentalism. Artists deal with technology and information organically and emotionally, resulting in an emotional experiential engagement with viewers.
»New Sensorium« is an exhibition presenting the work of some sixteen artists sensing the way forward, exploring exit strategies from the dark confusion at the precipices of dualist modernization. It is a step towards a new ecosystem, of media and material, directed toward another future, another body – a renewed sensing of the organism.