The Cyborg and the Moon: Notes on Science Fiction

Museum of Post Digital Cultures

30 September - 1 December, 2014

Curated by Karen Archey

Through television shows, novels, art and architecture, science fiction has gripped cultural imagination for decades. Given the genre’s popularity in nations ranging from Japan to the United States, and its application in architecture, science fiction has a unique hold on the intersection of culture and politics. Think, for example, of the Berlin Fernsehturm (which inspired this exhibition), symbolizing both East German superiority and, perhaps as a metaphor for “transmission,” the omnipresence of DDR ideology. Further, as science fiction hypothesizes about the future, it has a particularly slippery relationship to the passage of time. For example, while a science fiction television show may seem futuristic at the moment of its creation, it could seem equally aged the moment it is accessed by a viewer ten, twenty or thirty years later. This tendency to age clumsily is also reflected in architecture like the Fernsehturm, which was originally intended by Berlin’s Socialist Unity Party to monumentalize the future of the German Democratic Republic, and now serves as a constant beacon of Germany’s grave political past to the city’s denizens.

The exhibition The Cyborg and the Moon focuses on science fiction that envisions both utopian and dystopian futures from the perspective of both the present and past. For example, Tacita Dean’s video “Fernsehturm” (2001) takes an extended look at the interior of the TV tower, looking outward onto the city at dusk. Yuri Pattison’s “colocation, time displacement” (2014), a video of Pionen Data Center in the White Mountains of Stockholm, Sweden, is an example of more recent aspirational sci-fi architecture, the data center’s meeting room appearing something out of an evil villain’s lair.

Departing from the realm of aspirational architecture, the exhibition turns to the politicized human body of the future—the cyborg. Many artists have begun to consider how the body has been indelibly changed by its increasingly seamless relationship to technology, asking whether the phenomenon of acceleration helps or hurts us. The work of Alice Channer, which stretches and contorts the (not necessarily human) body, is but one example, while Donna Haraway’s essay “A Cyborg Manifesto: Science, Technology, and Socialist-Feminism in the Late Twentieth Century” has connected the idea of the cyborg with overcoming conventional roles associated with biological gender. The aforementioned texts and artworks comprise the first inclusions within The Cyborg and the Moon, and will be joined over the course of the next six weeks with many donations from myself and outside donors.

Lastly, it should be noted that the format of The Cyborg and the Moon is termed “exhibition” but represents a departure from a traditional fine art exhibition in a gallery or museum, using the platform not for just artworks, but "knowledge generation. Given that the “donations” displayed in the Museum of Post Digital Cultures are essentially jpgs, links and descriptions, this format works equally well (if not better) for articles, Youtube links and blog posts as it does for fine art. Rather than divorce textual “information” from “art,” as in the case with fine art displayed in the white cube, this exhibition utilizes the MPDC platform as one for the purveying of information through both art and the internet on an even field—a Boing Boing article equally important to a video by Tacita Dean. The Cyborg and the Moon intentionally does not acknowledge the conventional dichotomy between the high and the low that usually accompanies fine art.

Exhibition Archive Link