Mar 18, 2017 - May 28, 2017

Welcome Too Late

Kunsthal Charlottenborg

Group show featuring Iain Ball, Marguerite Humeau, Katja Novitskova, Parker Ito, Anne De Vries, Tue Greenfort, Eduardo Terrazas.

Extemporary Art
When everything from climate to technology is changing at accelerating pace, it’s increasingly difficult to keep up. The future undercuts the present and the present recedes into the past at ever greater speed. Artists and documentarists experience arriving too late to the moment they’re trying to capture. Instead of running after time, attempting to zoom in on the present moment, the tendency is now towards zooming out on other and bigger temporalities. This was the premise for the group exhibition Welcome Too Late in light of changes such as explosive population growth, rising temperatures and sea levels, automation, artificial intelligence, growing inequality, prospects of eternal life, resurrection of animal species and mass extinction. Based on the concept of “Extemporary Art”, curator Toke Lykkeberg had selected a number of trendsetting artists who problematized the concepts of ‘the contemporary’ and ‘contemporary art’ with works that shifted the focus from the moment to larger time perspectives.

Iain Ball
British artist who lives and works in London. When developing his work, he often envisions "an old artefact in a strange, post-human future". Ball has been partially shaped by an internet culture that accentuates an overall sense of the interconnectedness of all things across time and space.

He juxtaposes materials from widely different realms, ranging from consumer culture to ancient civilisations, often in ways that are reminiscent of those New Age Cultures and conspiracy theories that he also studies and incorporates.

Ball is interested in how various elements shaped by slow geological processes are also used within technological innovation that accelerates our time and points towards a different future. Since 2011 he has worked on a series of sculptures in which each sculpture addresses one of the seventeen so-called rare-earth elements.

These magnetic and fluorescent metals are used in much modern technology, for example in the loudspeaker inside the star-shaped figure on top of the sculpture. The rare-earth metal known as terbium can transport sound from a loudspeaker to a given surface, allowing music to permeate the sculpture.

The effect adds a tinge og techno-animism to the sculpture. The music is so-called psytrance created by the musician Goch, who shares Ball's interest in aliens. The backpack used to hold liquids is a frequently seen prop at techno raves.

Eduardo Terrazas
Mexican artist, designer, architect and urban planner. In 1975 he was invited to take part in a meeting between the Mexican president, Luis Echeverrìa, and the think tank Club of Rome, whose 1972 report 'The Limits to Growth' had alarmingly concluded that unsustainable growth could spell the end of humanity. Terrazas was asked to create an exhibition to mark the occasion.

In a publication accompanying his exhibition, 'Solidarity for Peace and Development Codex', Terrazas presented a graphic and visual processing of the report. In a series of sixteen pictures he depicted unsustainable exponential growth as a white square that is, through sixteen doublings of a black line, eventually transformed into a black square.

Today, scientists, scholars and entrepreneurs such as the American Raymond Kurzweil suggest that exponential growth within the field of artificial intelligence will soon make machines more knowledgeable than mankind. Based on statistics Kurzweil predicts that we will reach this point, known as 'The Singularity', in 2046. He doubts that anyone can predict what happens afterwards, as further developments will presumably be governed by a different kind of intelligence and logic than the human versions we know today.

As in Terrazas' illustrations we can only calculate our way to a future scenario where lines disappear in darkness. In 2012 Terrazas transformed his depiction of the exponential growth scenario into a video installation. An enlarged version of that installation was presented at Kunsthal Charlottenborg in 2017.

A different room in the exhibition presented Terraza's edited photograph 'Parteaguas (Turning Point)' taken from the same publication from 1975. The picture itself dates from 1946 and was taken on the Bikini Atoll in the Pacific Ocean. It shows the American military testing a nuclear bomb, which explodes to initiate an exponentially growing chain reaction of nuclear fission.

Here in the twenty-first century geologists have discussed whether the nuclear explosions during World War II can be said to mark the beginning of a new geological epoch, the Anthropocene, in which mankind manifests itself as a planet-changing force. Most geological epochs in the history of Earth span several million years.

Tue Greenfort
Danish artist who lives and works in Berlin. His work address how nature is partly shaped by slow, evolutionary processes throughout our planet's 4.6 billion years in existence, and partly by rapid anthropogenic changes seen over the course of the last couple of centuries. Greenfort is known for working with some of the oldest organisms on Earth, so-called 'living fossils', such as jellyfish that have remained unchanged for 500 million years and are now thriving in the ever-warmer oceans.

Greenfort's work at Kunsthal Charlottenborg was typical of the segment of his art that simultaneously draws on and problematizes various theories and philosophies on ecology. 'EQUILIBRIUM' consisted of translations of the farsighted and controversial book 'The Limits to Growth' commissioned by the Club of Rome, a think tank for so-called 'World citizens' who put the issue of climate change on the agenda back in 1972. The book has both been read as a progressive ecological manifesto and as a conservative defense on the status quo and economic growth repacked as so-called sustanability. Based on computer simulations, the authors of this book concluded that continued exponential growth within a range of areas would prove fatal to humanity and our planet: "If the present growth trends in world population, industrialisation, pollution, food production, and resource depletion continue unchanged, the limits to growth on this planet will be reached sometime within the next one hundred years."

Greenfort had acquired a range of translations and new editions of the book, which has sold twelve million copies Worldwide. The cover art differs from one country to the next. For example, the Polish edition features a font typical of science fiction, the American edition has a photography of Earth seen from Space, while the German edition is marketed by means of sober infographics in crisp, clean colours. Greenfort is interested in how the world citizens' report of objective data is marketed differently in different countries and cultures.

Katja Novitskova
Estonian artist who lives and works in Berlin. Her installations are populated by everything from microorganisms to plants, animals and robots. She often incorporates arrows and infographics, mapping out a rapidly evolving world and pointing in countless directions. Her imagery, which overlaps that of the Internet, can seem very contemporary, but the various elements often date from widely different periods, and her perspective is evolutionary in scope: "Somehow I like to start with a cosmology. The current Scientific understanding of our world is that innate properties of matter allowed it to selforganize into galaxies, organic life, dinosaurs, humans and eventually via us into books, microchips and digital images."

The work 'Expansion Curves (fire worship, purple horns)' was created last year for the ESTM business school in Berlin as a monument to thousands of years of worship of fire, growth and status. Horns appear in cults of the Sacred Bull throughout history, right from the earstern Stone Age settlements where early economic systems saw the light of day to the sculpture 'Chargin Bull' in present-day Wall Street in New York. The sea of flames seems to be nourished by fossil fuels. A poignant image of a very brief historical period's massive consumption of compressed organic material such as oil, that has lain dormant for millions of years and accelerated everything from the world economy to climate change since the advent of industrialisation.

Marguerite Humeau
French artist and a trained designer. She lives and works in London. In recent years she has become especially known for her keen interest in de-extinction, i.e. the science of reviving extinct species. The research conducted within this field is relevant at a time of accelerated loss of biodiversity. Her work is created in an ongoing dialogue with Experts within biology, palaeontology, surgery, musicology, sound design, and 3D modelling. Since de-extinction requires qualified guesses about the appearance of something that no longer exists, Humeau regards this endeavour as sculptural and artistic in scope.

For her most recent project Humeau was interested in creating an animal that never existed, but might have done so. Taking her starting point in the scientific hypothesis that the real difference between human beings and chimpanzees is articulated speech, a difference that arose due to a random mutation of the gene known as FOXP2 some 100.000 years ago, Humeau imagined this mutation taking place in elephants instead of in human beings. The result is a world where elephants are the dominant species.

Humeau has long been interested in elephants, partly because they are ascribed what we humans regard as complex emotions - such as grief, expressed through funeral rituals. The dying elephant 'Gisant 1' was presented on a specially designed metal stand in what Humeau images as a biological showroom in a world where consciousness and emotions can be fabricated and sold. Humeau's practice reflects a renewed scientific interest in artificial intelligence, immortality and so-called reverse ageing. Humeau has described her endeavour in these terms: "I always want my sculptures to look like they have traveled through time and Space, and maybe they are just apparitions and that they could fade at any time."

Anne de Vries
Dutch artist who lives and works in New York. A recurring theme in his work is the ways in which digitisation and new media change how we depict and perceive a world that resembles an ever-greater and ever more rapid stream of images. His video 'Forecast' is a 3D rendered film in which spectators journey through photographs of clouds in a blue sky. The audio track consists of excerpts from a reading from the philosopher Bertrand Russell's book 'ABC of Relativity', in which Russell seeks to present Albert Einstein's theories of relativity for laymen. In the early twentieth century Einstein stated that time is not a given, unique absolute, but relative to the person measuring it. Time and Space, he explained, are connected in so-called x, which implies, that time for someone who travels quickly through space runs slower compared to someone who travels slowly through space.

Anne de Vries had distorted the audio track so that it sounds as if the speed of the recording or the narrator's own voice is alternately sped up or slowed down. The machine-like narrator's voice was similar to that of Stephen Hawking, a theoretical psysicist whose sclerosis requires him to speak with the aid of a computer. Hawkings has contributed to developing and expanding on Einstein's theories. Among other things, Hawking is known for regarding so-called wormholes and black holes as rather impractical "time machimes".

Parker Ito
American artist. His practice is informed by a rapid Internet culture in which texts, images and video is produced, presented and consumed in what is almost a single, sweeping movement. Fellow artist Brad Troemel has called Ito a mixture of an athlete and an aesthete - a so-called 'aesthlete': "the aesthlete produces a constant stream of work in social media to ride atop the wave in viewers' newsfeeds, or else become to wave itself, overwhelming them with material".

The work at Kunsthal Charlottenborg testified to Ito's kinship with the prolific painter Claude Monet (1840-1926). The French impressionist is known for his many series of paintings depicting the same subject, such as haystacks, captured at different times of day under changing light. Ito's installation consisted of LED cables that transport information via light.

Inside this sea of light were sculptural variations of the figure Kernel Kleanup in various kinds of reflecting surface treatment. The figure is the mascot of the pest control company Western Exterminator, which released the computer game 'Pesterminator' in 1990 in cooperation with Nintendo. In this game the player takes on the role of the noble mascot, wielding a hammer as they vanquish "mutated super-pests" that spread rapidly across the globe, trying to take over our planet.

Credits: Story

Welcome Too Late is presented in collaboration with the documentary film festival CPH:DOX.

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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