From September 23 to October 20, Berlin’s Archenhold Observatory and other sites in its urban landscape will become a platform for contemporary art practices embracing a variety of time-based media, including the moving image and sound. With a program, curated by Daniela Arriado and Vanina Saracino, Screen City Biennial (SCB) explores the liminal states of human consciousness, placing the notion of the human in relation to beings of other species such as plants, bacteria, fungi, as well as exploring our entanglement with technology.
SCB features works by artists Anna Ehrenstein with 4DHD, Eli Cortiñas, Espen Sommer Eide, Lundahl & Seitl, Lundahl & Seitl with ScanLAB Projects, Metahaven, Grace Ndiritu, Jacob Kirkegaard, Jenna Sutela, Patricia Domínguez, and Viktor Pedersen with Ingrid K. Bjørnaali. These works aim to collectively expand our notions of the “human,” exploring the interconnections among all living and non living matter—both on a planetary and a microcosmic scale.
SCB’s main exhibition venue is the Archenhold Observatory in Berlin-Treptow. Other sites will include the Schering Foundation on Unter den Linden and outdoor public spaces, such as Pariser Platz and Treptower Park.
In Jenna Sutela’s new audiovisual work Milky Ways (2022), the bodies of terrestrial organisms are explored as connected aquatic environments, drawing particular attention to the sugars contained in breast milk that communicate with babies' gut bacteria and seem to shape the development of babies’ nervous systems. Under these considerations, the transfer of breast milk from mother—or (m)other, as Sutela spells it— to baby is only partially an act of feeding; most significantly, it is an act of worldbuilding across generations and interspecies.
Metahaven's work Capture (2022), with sound composed by Espen Sommer Eide, draws connections between the microscopic and the telescopic. The work interweaves original archival material from CERN with a series of sequences filmed in Norwegian forests that engage with sensing and bio-indication by lichens (composed of fungi, algae, and/or cyanobacteria: an entangled “amalgams of multiple organisms”); a cinematic search for what perception and sensing can entail today. The film plays upon observation, entanglement, science, science-fiction, and poetry.
The way memory allows for a string of data to be passed through matter across time is further developed by Lundahl & Seitl’s virtual reality experience and installation Eternal Return: the Memor (2019–2022), developed with ScanLAB Projects. Drawing multiple connections between living matter and geology, the work crafts an experience of time-travel from earth’s deep past as unicellular cyanobacteria to its post-anthropocentric future. Their work Symphony of a Missing Room – Sternwarte (2022) choreographs a sensorial experience of the Archenhold Observatory; we become receivers of the light that travels from the stars, and attempt to make contact with a signal that reaches us from a multiple light-years distance. The connections between the human brain and psilocybin plants are explored and dreamed up by Grace Ndiritu in Becoming Plant: the Experience (2022), Viktor Pedersen and Ingrid K. Bjørnaali in To See Without Man (2022), and Patricia Domínguez in Matrix Vegetal (2022), the latter growing out of Domínguez’s artistic interpretation and filmic exploration of her research into the plant and spiritual world of Madre de Dios (Peru). These works emphasize the mind-expanding potential that could be unleashed if we established a symbiotic connection with the vegetal mind, thus expanding posthumanist notions of planetary entanglements into cosmic consciousness. Two other commissions particularly focus on the development of artificial intelligence, the mind of software, pondering over the chances of an artificial consciousness.
As highlighted by the artworks, this possibility is already affecting our present and the way we envisage our future. In the augmented reality work Coffee Ground Imaginaries (2022), Anna Ehrenstein and 4DHD use the traditional divination technique of tasseography (a method of interpreting patterns in coffee cups) to respond to the way algorithmic engineering is creating patterns to predict and materialize global futures. In the lecture performance I’d Blush If I Could (2022–2023), Eli Cortiñas proposes a critical approach to the increasing feminization of technology by putting in dialogue different devices—humanoid robots, voice-activated systems, chatbots, and social devices. Finally, Jacob Kirkegaard's sound installation and live performance Opus Mors (2019) deals with the modification of matter after death. Sound recordings of four different environments to which the human body is exposed post-mortem—morgue, autopsy, decomposition and cremation—are intended to associate new meaning to the topic of death, decay and decomposition. Being presented at an astronomical site, the work combines the molecular and the cosmic, re-signifying the notion of human decomposition as a natural transformation (or re-composition) into another matter.
For more information, visit http://2022.screencitybiennial.org/
Admission to all exhibition venues: 15 € (reduced 8 €)
Tickets will soon be available on our website.
Other Minds takes its title from Peter Godfrey-Smith’s best-selling Other Minds: The Octopus, the Sea, and the Deep Origins of Consciousness (2016). In the studies of consciousness, animals like the cephalopods— the octopus in particular—have led to a broader understanding of how non-human minds function, with their brains merging what we call ‘understanding’ and ‘sensing’ into one single gesture. With their tentacles (deriving from Latin tentāre, to attempt, to try), cephalopods have inspired Donna Haraway’s notion of tentacular thinking—a strategy that encourages us to think and act beyond binary divisions and dual opposites, opening our awareness to the multitudes that we are still unable to recognize and comprehend fully. Emerging evidence also points to the fact that human thought processes and feelings are directly affected by the bacteria, viruses, and fungi that co-inhabit our bodies and that actively contribute to maintaining our physical and mental vitality.
Is the human mind, then, perhaps but one component of a much larger cosmic intelligence? The artworks in Other Minds will pursue this question from an extraordinary astronomical vantage point, centered at a historically rich site—the Archenhold Observatory in Berlin, home to the longest movable refracting telescope on Earth, and to the auditorium where Albert Einstein first proposed his ground-breaking theory of relativity in Berlin. The Archenhold Observatory is one of the four astronomical facilities of the Berlin Planetarium Foundation.
SCB was founded by Daniela Arriado in 2013 as a festival held in Stavanger, Norway. Since 2017, this event has been presented as a biennial. For the first time ever, the 2022 edition of SCB will expand the traditional biennial structure, by embracing two different cities, Berlin and Oslo, and by spanning an extended period during 2022/2023. SCB is the first Nordic art biennial dedicated to the expanded moving image in public space. It features artworks that examine the relationship between the moving image, sound, new technologies, public and digital spaces. The biennial presents, explores, and expands the moving image as a radical temporal form of art along established and experimental artistic paths and in critical dialogue with contemporary urban spheres and the context of life in the city.