In April 2000, as we were being ushered into the 21st century, an essay was published on Wired which personally gave me quite a jolt. As it was written by Bill Joy, a genius and one of the leading computer scientists, the article created a large buzz. In his writing, Joy advocates singularity and carefully builds up his discussion in response to the shocking indifference of the majority of scientists to unexpected circumstances which he realized through debates with optimists like Ray Kurzweil. Almost two decades have passed since his essay, but his warning that GNR (genetic engineering, nanotechnology, and robotics) would merge to put the very survival of human race in
jeopardy still remains real, as we pretend not to notice the osmotic pressure of artificial intelligence (AI) as it begins its unethical infiltration into our world.
Joy’s warning sounds even more realistic if we pay attention to a prophecy of his predecessor philosopher. Martin Heidegger, a German philosopher whose great achievements were marginalized by his supportive reaction to the Nazis, wrote in “Question Concerning Techndology”
as follows: “Therefore, as long as we simply create and develop technology, we will never experience our relationship with technology in its essence, nor will we persevere or avoid it. We are tied to technology everywhere and deprived of freedom regardless of whether we crave for technology or reject it.” In a way, Heidegger points to the scary fact that the monster known as technology exists as a dark matter in the origin of the Space, which existed long before humans became aware of its presence, and that we are unable even to face this fact.
Upon witnessing the F1 accident following the 3.11 Great Earthquake and reactions of Japanese Government and TEPCO, his warning inevitably seems to make a clear point. As if making jest of our illusion that we can control the monstrous technology known as nuclear plants, technology “entwines” with people to ensure that we have no escape. In Kansai Area where I live, there is Monju, a high-breeder nuclear reactor. Monju was built in haste without any thought to the possibility of future decommission, and after many years, we woke up one day to the shocking reality that we cannot even decommission the reactor. Why do we stubbornly refuse to understand these facts even when it is possible with a cooler head? That is the philosophical inquiry raised by Heidegger, but we continue to refuse to solve this question.
So, why is the situation deteriorating in an increasing pace? Personally, I think “capitalism” is the main stimulus responsible for such a trend. Capitalism is the ultimate descendent of the monster known as technology, to which every single human being, including me, is“entwined”. To this extent, technology is the Siamese twin of the “gravity” of this planet. For its overall impact, a modest term such as“syndrome” does not suffice; the severity is much greater, as it is the essence and the truth. If our hope epitomized in intelligence and art is just another representation of capitalism’s main drive, “desire”, just like despicable war and predation, we may have no other choice but to prepare ourselves for a reality in which the separating the Siamese twins, whose nature is to swallow up the external and differences, is entirely impossible.
This finally brings me to the topic featured in this exhibition. As you may have already noticed, this exhibition does not pander to the trends like technology art or bio-art. As discussed above, the monsters known as technology and capitalism are not the omnipotent goddesses of happiness as we consider them to be, and there are researchers and artists attempting to address that concern in their own various ways. This exhibition came into being from the desire to warn visitors and share their concerns. Here, a philosopher who escaped from unruly China to Finland questions the formation of this world through ink paintings, while the programmed sinusoidal waves moving around within the steel vessel of “Hakkoda Maru” cause cells to bubble, posing a difficult question to art professionals as to whether pictorial abstraction can survive beyond artificial intelligence. Right in front of our eyes, these vanguard expressionists depict an age of threat where copying and printing of the four bases is possible in the most practical way. Through this exhibition, I sincerely hope that visitors have the opportunity to feel in their core that “philosophy”, while considered to be long dead, is another form of“hope”against all this seemingly unstoppable phenomenon, which continues to consume fossil fuels accumulated through hundreds of millions of years in just a single century. No other place than Aomori during its formidable winter would be more suitable for each one of us to face these difficult questions and ponder on them.
Noboru Tsubaki AOMORI Triennale 2017, Artistic Director
AOMORI Triennale 2020 is cancelled due to the spread of coronavirus.