In a world increasingly shaped by digital technologies and interfaces, interaction between humans and things has become a focal point of interest. Against the backdrop of new digital and social settings, the group exhibition ich weiß nicht [I don’t know]—Growing Relations between Things analyzes the relationship between subject and object. In the framework of the VIENNA BIENNALE 2017: Robots. Work. Our Future, seventeen positions of contemporary artists, most of whom live and work in Austria, spin a narrative on the affect of things.
Objects—whether analog or digital—serve as tools (“media”) to configure our everyday world and thereby also shape our society. Through the Internet of Things, smart devices, wearables, and apps, it appears as though the objects we have designed are gaining ever more control over us humans. In this complex, networked world, how is it possible to maintain or reclaim our autonomous, sovereign lives?
The exhibition title alludes specifically to Birgit Jürgenssen’s work ich weiß nicht (2001), a photographic depiction of the artist’s car snowed under in a parking spot. Rendered undriveable, the vehicle serves as a medium for breaking taboos—the main focus of interest is relief that the machine no longer functions: I don’t know as an alternative form of autonomy and mental “mobility.”
As we come to terms with our inventions, creations, “self-expansions,” and “proxies,” new fields of interaction emerge. Not only in the museum context do human-made objects function as components of ever newer networks in a world beyond the reach of their creators. Awareness that through our actions—not least through our work—we place ourselves in reciprocal relationships with human-designed objects is the motivation for examining this phenomenon in the MAK DESIGN LAB. Last but not least, the exhibition reflects on the curatorial process itself, in which the capacity for relationships between things to multiply is a constant source of wonder.
Padhi Frieberger, Bruno Gironcoli, Sofia Goscinski, Nilbar Güreş, Lisa Holzer, Birgit Jürgenssen, Anita Leisz, Paul Leitner, Ute Müller, Julian Palacz, Signe Rose, Günther Selichar, Misha Stroj, Zin Taylor, Sofie Thorsen, Patrick Topitschnig, Kay Walkowiak
Curators: Janina Falkner, Contemporary Art Collection; and Marlies Wirth, Curator, Digital Culture and Design Collection, MAK