Paolo Atzori on Tue, 19 Dec 95 03:58 MET

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C=Christian Huebler             P=Paolo Atzori            Y=Yvonne Wilhelm
a conversation with Yvonne Wilhelm and Christian Huebler
by Paolo Atzori.
 1995  Living the Present
{Permission granted to redistribute electronically or otherwise for not commercial purposes}

>The world presents itself to us, effectively< (J. Baudrillard)
>Which worlds?< (KR+cF)
Knowbotic Research (KR+cF) develops hybrid models of knowledge generation. These
models are complex  dynamic fields  which produce an exchange between virtual 
agents, poetic machines and interactive visitors. They  enable an  observer the 
physical exploration and construction of  networked rules and strategies of the 
new public spheres. KR+cF outlines technoid events parallel in real and virtual 
spaces to investigate the experience of the multiple layers of reality. These 
extensions of the cultural environment provoke new cultural and aesthetical  
parameters in order to prevent an ideological closed circuit in an information 
based society.
KR+cF, Yvonne Wilhelm, Alexander Tuchacek, Christian Huebler, is based in 
Cologne,  Academy for Media Arts. With the partners of Westbank Industries and 
Tactile Technology  KR+cF has founded Mem_brane, a laboratory for media 
 KR+cF has got major international Media Art  Awards. (Prix Ars Electronica 93, Golden Nica for Interactive Art; German Media Art Award, ZKM  Karlsruhe 95).

P.: Last November, in Hamburg, during the "Interface3" you have finally installed your new work "Dialogue with the Knowbotic South". What is the topic of your discourse?

C.: Our approach is to focus on the scientific world referring the South Pole, to study the codes used by the scientists of the Antarctic who make computer simulations.
We intend to offer a model for a discourse between different fields of the communication world. From an artistic point of view It is formalizing a problem of a missing language.

P.: A dialogue beginning from state of missing language... 
Is it the starting condition for your new artistic activity or a hyphotetical limit?

C.: One has to give away his own old language. How shall we discuss what we are doing? We have not only to debate with journalists and critics but also to exchange ideas between us and the scientists. It really becomes a problem if we don't have a language.

Y.: It's a development on our own history as artists, as aesthetic beings; you have to log-in your own history...

P.: How do you formulate your discourse about Nature between the different artistic and scientific dimensions?

C.:We work about hypothesis since the nature's scientists are dealing in our century with hypothetical issues.
When they simulate the nature on their computers they project systems into the future, pushing forward the meaning of time. For the first time a scientist doesn't only prove the laws of nature, he is also formulating conditions of possible systems.
In our project we treat an actual state of nature correspondent to our information culture: the scientific definition of the nature by communication systems and powerful computers. This way to work changes the meaning of nature itself because nature has always been culturally defined.

Y.: Reality is culturally defined too. We now investigate nature but at the same time question reality.

P.:A concept that changes with the time. Do you want to point out an idea of reality more fitting our contemporary time?

C.: Our bigger concern is the topic "Wirklichkeitskonzept." With the term 'virtual reality' you can define a dimension that belongs to the computer. It is just a play , but I think we play with the rules of games dealing with phenomena which really have an effect on our personal life. 
The question is no longer what nature is, rather, what kind of nature do we want. We are embodied in the process of how nature merges, with the ability to go into the system and to change and manipulate it. 
We have to include in our research the term "real" (das Reale), what comes out from the reality conception. We don't know if we really can discuss about "Das Reale". It is a very delicate thing; in our work dealing with nature, means also to deal with economy and politics. 

P.:We can say Knowbotic Research is searching for an artistic definition of Nature, a possible reality, in the Information Age throughout models and data coming directly from the world of scientific research.
How is your intellectual experience with the scientists, did you find correspondences of ideas?

C.:Most of the scientists still think in the mechanistic world's view - for instance their chaos theory is deterministic.
They want just to prove their laws confirming the construction of Science. If is there anything they cannot  put in the body of science they think the question is wrong. They don't think their methods of working are wrong. I make an example: if they have a simulation model running on a computer and get actual data from a satellite which do not fit into the simulation, of course the satellite has made mistakes. Only few people would argue that maybe the simulation is wrong. We think the concern of the genuine scientists of our time should be to risk some steps ahead leaving the academic domain of science behind. 

P.:Don't you think too many scientists are affected by heavy political-economical demand?

C.:When last summer in Hamburg we have joined some scientists at the German polar research institute of Bremerhaven (AWI) we have realized how powerful the connections between science and politics and economics are. Many scientists does visual simulation only to legitimate their work to the politicians and get money for more projects, not because they want to find something new with the visual simulation language.
Most of the scientists see the visualization in this context and this is disappointing.
As I explained before we started our project with the nature scientists because we thought they deal with hypothetical questions involving all the new concepts of science like the theory of the inner observer, complex dynamics and self organization. We were mostly interested in the research of dynamic processes. We wanted to find out how they find out how the results of this research changes the knowledge about Antarctica.

P.:A kind of synthesis of the scientific knowledge applied to a special environment in an interactive form where one can observe the work of scientists giving an interpretation and a simulation of natural processes. At the same time some scientists are developing new ways of representation for the scientific methodology too. Do you want to provide the scientists with a free platform where they can exchange and debate their researches?

C.: We look for creating a field of discourse freed from the rules of the disciplines of the specialists. It is a field not only for nature scientists but also for scholars and philosophers who are discussing the present ideas of reality. We start from the scientific material because Knowbotic Research is interested in hybrid knowledge, in the integration of facts in fiction.

P.: The cybernetic of Robert Wiener, was the first attempt to start a new sense of science coming out of epistemological meeting where the researches of different disciplines could break the borders of isolation. 
We are living again in a time where everything is always more and more specialized, and everybody follows his method like a dogma that can hardly be discussed. 
Do you consider cybernetic a good background for your idea? 

Y.:Our world's view is based on that what we see in the next future, a worldwide data space induced by the communication technologies, filled up with tons of information coming from all different disciplines of knowledge. I think it is very important to create models which focus on the needs and possibilities of the person who tries to receive these information. These are questions of strategies which support the human perception.
Furthermore the concept of nature in our work does not come from the scientists, we only use their data.
Our work is also a liberation from Science. We create an environment where we first fabricate actual phenomena of scientific thinking. But we emancipate these phenomena from their reference (Science) by a self organization model.

P.: Let's speak more directly about your work...

C.:Our installation "Dialog with the Knowbotic South" is not like our previous work "Simulationspace Mosaic of mobile Datasounds" (SMDK) a functional work.
The new concept is based on knowbots, which generate a vision in a data-network. They originate a hypothetical nature, Computer Aided Nature (CAN). The main problem for the knowledge robots is that we are dealing with two bigger entities, the so called reference nature that is still very powerful in the Antarctic, one of the few almost intact ecological systems, and the related scientific institutions. 
The knowbots act with completely different kind of inputs, originating a tension so you can't bring these two worlds really together. This produces an aestethic field for artists. Virtual reality means that you are inside the computer box closed to the outside. Knowbotic reality means you are in a zone of different worlds, totally aware of the dynamic processes in different worlds. We are interested to find a form for this concept. 
Each knowbot carries the information about several Antarctic research projects that are running at the moment. It is not a scientific knowbot because we incorporate very different phenomena related to different research programs. This incorporation of phenomena of actual research in a Computer Aided Nature shapes the knowbot. We have designed a visual form for every Knowbot's algorithm correspondent to the data sets.
The agents (knowbots) work as connectors of processes. This point represents a new idea for the artwork. We do not have anymore an interface, a mechanic interface, in the real world, we have interfaces in the network, the dynamic network.
If the processes associated to the knowbots and/or the research projects change, the knowbots will change too, following the modification of ideas in the world of research . This leads to forms of artificial creativity implemented on these agents. The agent should be open to other way of thinking. like concepts or ways of thinking. So, for instance, we outline interfaces for philosophers allowing the possibility to reach them and determinate other outlines for the knowbot.

**********   I  N  S  T  A  T ?    H  O  C    U  T  I  T  U  R    **********
Paolo Atzori
Academy of Media Arts  Peter-Welter-Platz 2                       D-50676 Koeln   
Office:      *49-221-20189-141                        Fax:    *49-221-20189-17     URL: