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31.03. – 22.05.2021
The exhibition Latencies shows works by the Spanish artist Daniel Canogar, exploring the paradigm of our data society and reflecting a world of changing media.
Canogar investigates the interfaces and transitions between virtual and real worlds. In expansive, large-scale installations and generative video animations, the artist is dealing with the impact of media technologies on society; he vividly presents the transition from electromechanical to digital systems and is searching for the individual person’s impact and position in the technologically networked world. Latencies stands for a world in flux – a world of transient, fleeting memories, shifting media and continuously increasing data streams.
„I like to break away from the confines of the flat screen and create three-dimensional installations
that conceptualize media as sculpture.“
For his series of works titled Echo, 2016, Canogar transmits to the exhibition space real-time data of various natural phenomena via special LED screens developed with flexible, rubber-coated circuit boards. This material allows him to bend the screens in any desired form, transforming them into a membrane which can be wrapped, like a skin, around objects and structures. The screens themselves become sculptural objects which illuminate and activate the surrounding space. The surface becomes the place of contact as Giuliana Bruno, scholar in cultural studies, describes in her book Surface¹. For her, materiality is a question not of the materials themselves but of the substance of material relationships. Bruno speaks about the fabrics of the visual whose structural quality or texture may manifest itself just as well on a facade, on a canvas or on a screen. Canogar’s Echo works render the fluid data streams of the information society haptically perceptible. As live data streams, they bring the conditions and motions of our physical world into the exhibition space. In this respect, Canogar shows quite deliberately the technical construction of the screens when he exposes their cables and wires. Boundaries between digital and real space have become permeable or, respectively, the texture of the digital matter is transmitted into the physical space.
In the generative video installations of the Echo series, Canogar opens his works to the data streams of the World Wide Web. His sources are websites that provide current data on rain, temperature, or wind, but also on air pollution or seismic activity around the globe. This source material is processed by an algorithm developed by the artist’s team and transformed into abstract animations. Their dynamic fluid patterns are based on complex mathematical descriptions of natural processes. The live data in turn influence various qualities of the generative animations, such as speed, rotation, and color.
The works’ viewers will experience our planet’s motions and stirrings in the rhythmic pulsations of colors and forms. Current environmental data and continuous changes are perceptible by means of visual fluctuations.
The term Anthropocene, which has become increasingly important in recent years, refers to the fact that in our time man is shaping nature. Human presence and influence on the planet can be seen in its ecological effects – from the transformation of landscapes through rock quarrying or deforestation to climate change. Current research on the Anthropocene is looking for solutions to address other ecosystem actors in this human-driven era. French sociologist and philosopher Bruno Latour speaks of the need to understand the ecosystem as a place of assembly in which many groups have a voice, not just humans. He calls for giving a voice to all representatives of this complex communication system ecology and making them audible². In Echo, Canogar establishes a visual connection to the ecosystem, but he is less concerned with making this data visible in the sense of a simple data visualization that reflects the data one-to-one than with an aesthetic reshaping of the material.
SMALL DATA SERIES
Small Data consists of installations, each dedicated to different discarded electronic devices – from VHS tapes, DVDs and Game-Boy, all the way to mobile phones, hard disks and scanners. Each tableau presents a quasi-animated still life that reveals the use of these devices and the creativity they inspired in their users. Canogar makes personal and collective memories come alive in Small Data – memories of a time when the devices were still fully functional and were used as tools. As memento mori, Small Data researches the life and death of consumer electronics. Canogar organizes the findings as fragile relics of a bygone era, a strategy that allows him to examine issues of our cultural memory. Small Data may also be understood as a critique of our consumer society and an industrial system which relies on ever new updates and versions as replacements of existing, still fully functional equipment.
Small Data is Canogar’s nostalgic view towards our digital tools which have increasingly become carriers of our memories. Today, digital technologies ubiquitously and simultaneously provide all of the knowledge and know-how which formerly had been stored in libraries and needed to be painstakingly acquired. Yet the new archives and libraries of our knowledge are fragile and broken. We entrust to digital infrastructures all our knowledge and memories., and we set our hopes on all of it being secure in the “cloud”. But it is now already suspected that little will remain of our time. The works of the Small Data series reveal a fear of the “digital dark age” – the loss of all data and thus of our collective knowledge. These processes of disintegration and breaks in the cultural memory are fundamentally important for Canogar’s oeuvre because without our memories we are living in what he describes as an “amnesiac present, textureless and flat, lacking the perspective of time”³.
Installation images: Jorge Anguita
Text: Sabine Himmelsbach, Director, HeK, Basel
1 Giuliana Bruno, Surface. Matters of Aesthetics, Materiality, and Media, The University of Chicago Press, Chicago 2014.
2 Bruno Latour, Von der Realpolitik zur Dingpolitik, Merve Verlag, Berlin 2005.