I’m at ACUD in Veteranenstraße in Berlin. I’ve been here once before but it’s nothing like I remember it. The School of Machines, Making and Make-Believe has brought out a community showcase. It’s called ‘Make Some Noise’. I cannot imagine making noise in a public space, especially a space where art is exhibited. Art is best read quietly, I think. (I have – just as you do – judgements and zones of my own. I’d like to tell you they cannot be broken but change pierces through). I’m here to inspect the intersection of art, technology, design and human connection happening here in the school. See for myself.
I move slowly in its arcade of rooms, adverts, graffiti, political statements stuck and scrawled on stairways and corridors in between. There’s something to every corner. Every screen hides something, waiting for you to find. Every threshold you walk over, every curtain you separate, can only lead you to multiple worlds colliding. You collide along. Your experience of living in a world which has been slowly but steadily changing – sometimes so fast that a blink of your eye was slower – will let you see the different, separate, alive threads of thought in every exploration. That’s what I’d call an exhibit here. An exploration. A minute jolt of your body and mind within or without – wherever you choose to imagine it – as it finds itself slowly but firmly comprehending each creation.
There are questions you need to answer, for yourself. You live in a world where answering these questions will open you to newer possibilities. Would you rather have sex with a robot with a mind of a human or would you rather have sex with a human with the mind of a robot? If you could create a virtual world for yourself, what would it look like? And why, what would you be escaping? And so on. As much as this is an exercise for your imagination, these are things you’ll soon have to take a stand on. Technology is opening the worlds beyond this one and its doing it quick.
I’m stuck at Cosmogon. A music based arcade game installation, where the viewer is invited to “match the rotating velocity with the endurance”. An image on the screen challenges you to control the abstract space your hands take on screen. You follow the contraction and expansion of the image with your hands, trying to replicate space. The idea of translatable, abstract space is as real as the possibility of superimposing the spiritual on the material. In another corner, projected on the screen are parts of a movie on the corporeality of our world. Here, you can interject the spiritual as and when you want. It’s uncanny resemblance to the lives we lead stands in stark contrast to its vivid unreality. But it is the unreal that can explain the real to us.
Between each exhibit, I meet creators. Either those exhibiting with the School of Machines or those who’ve come in search of inspiration or see what they could do with what they already have. Their stories are as elaborate as the creations that they’ve given birth to. I meet a digital Tabla guy, a pyramid disco light maker, a market disoriented game developer, etc., Through each one’s eyes, the exhibits look different. For each one here, this intersection of worlds means a different thing.
There is no line of separation between you and the work. In fact, you are vital to every project. You are the player, the operator, the cornerstone, part of this hybrid. You finish the loop. Your hands make and unmake things. Be it as a DJ tuning psychedelic creatures in an out of a screen and finding a tune to them, or as a lonely spectator in a bedroom with a pair pf pyjamas that look like the body that ought to be in them just disintegrated (Rachel Uwa’s Can we please get to know each other better?), you are the key to the play.
Can you believe it? These things came out of people, their heads or hands or clouds. In yours, these things are forming. You are looking at catalysts. You are looking at art which will give birth to art. Walking away from that night, I found my head brimming with colours. Brimming with noise. I repeat, you are the key to the play.