Matter. Non-Matter. Anti-Matter. Past Exhibitions as Digital Experiences

»Matter, Non-Matter, Anti-Matter« © ZKM | Center for Art and Media Karlsruhe; Design: AKU Collective / Mirjam Reili

ZKM | Center for Art and Media Karlsruhe
December 3, 2022 – April 23, 2023

Matter. Non-Matter. Anti-Matter delves into the significance of digitality and computer-generated environments in the context of the material understanding of art production and the showcasing of it. Through deep engagement with two past landmark exhibitions and their philosophical foundations, the exhibition lends insight into the implications for contemporary curatorial and artistic practices, including their mediation, that arise from the assumption that the digital comprises a material layer.

Based on the case studies of Les Immatériaux (Centre Pompidou, 1985) and Iconoclash. Beyond the Image Wars in Science, Religion, and Art (ZKM, 2002) and within the framework of the practice-based research and international co-operation project Beyond Matter. Cultural Heritage on the Verge of Virtual Reality (2019-23), two art institutions – ZKM |Center for Art and Media Karlsruhe and the Centre Pompidou in Paris – have committed themselves to examining the possibility of exhibition revival through experiential methods of digital and spatial modeling.

Les Immatériaux was initially conceived as an industrial design-oriented project with the aim of exploring the effects of new technologies and materials on artistic practice and creation. Upon Jean-François Lyotard joining Thierry Chaput as a co-curator, the course of the project veered towards an investigation into the transformation of the postmodern world caused by the ever-growing presence of new technologies.

Iconoclash focused on a further crucial issue; that of representation in its various forms across disciplines and cultures along with the turbulence it sparks. As was emphasized by its curators Bruno Latour and Peter Weibel, the exhibition was not iconoclastic but rather an assembly of scientific exhibits, documents, and artworks about iconoclasms. It was a thought experiment that had assumed the form of an exhibition, a so-called Gedankenausstellung.

Matter. Non-Matter. Anti-Matter presents the digital models of the aforementioned past exhibitions on the newly developed Immaterial Display, a hardware created specifically for the exploration of virtual exhibitions.

Furthermore, a selection of artworks and artifacts, mainly from the collections of the Centre Pompidou and ZKM | Karlsruhe and many of which were showcased in Les Immatériaux and Iconoclash, attest to a conceptual dematerialization and digital re-materialization of artworks. Examples of digital curatorial and exhibition reconstruction techniques that were implemented within Beyond Matter offer a broader and contemporary approach to the subject.

Commissioned pieces by Jeremy Bailey, damjanski, fabric|ch, Geraldine Juárez, Carolyn Kirschner, and Anne Le Troter engage with the past exhibitions as well as their digital counterparts. They bear witness to a transformation taking place in the creation, collection, and mediation of art that is becoming ever more digital.

An extensive program will accompany the exhibition: A webinar series directed towards museum professionals and cultural practitioners presents practices for working in digital or hybrid museums; two workshops organized together with Andreas Broeckmann of Leuphana University Lüneburg explore interdisciplinary curating and methods for researching historical exhibitions; workshops based on “performance-oriented design methods for audience studies and exhibition evaluation” (PORe) implemented by Lily Díaz-Kommonen and Cvijeta Miljak of Aalto University.

Following its stopover at ZKM | Karlsruhe, a refashioned version of Matter. Non-Matter. Anti-Matter will be on view from June to August 2023 at the Centre Pompidou in Paris.

Co-funded by the Creative Europe Program of the European Union and German Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media
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