The Vision and the Retrogarde of the Senster Cybernetic Sculpture
Authors of the concept and the text: assist. prof. Kristina Pranjić, PhD and Magdalena Germek, PhD
- Patrik Lechner (University of Applied Arts Vienna – Digital Art),
- Anna Olszewska, PhD (AGH University of Science and Technology in Kraków),
- assoc. prof. Peter Purg, PhD (Academy of Arts – New Media, University of Nova Gorica)
The discussion will be led by: assist. prof. Kristina Pranjić, PhD
The concept was conceived by: assist. prof. Kristina Pranjić, PhD and Magdalena Germek, PhD
The recent reactivation of the Senster in 2017/18, considered one of the first successful examples of cybernetic art, which took place at the initiative of the University of Science and Technology AGH in Krakow opened up a new set of questions that are of critical-sociological and aesthetical-philosophical nature, derived from the specific context of our time. First and foremost, the relevant question emerging is of problematizing the legitimacy of financing such expensive projects, at a time when financial resources are largely allocated mainly to usable technology. The author this sculpture Edward Ihnatowicz already commented that one of the leading reasons why artists are leaving Cybernetics is very high cost of this technology, which is mainly focused on profitable commercialization of technology associated with the film industries of Disneyland and science-fiction. How, then, to rekindle confidence in cyber art in the world of mass production and entertainment industry, which is fixed primarily on pragmatism and the applicability of technology? Can the reactivation of the Senster be understood as a constructive step in this direction against commercialization and (profit) pragmatism of technology?
On the other hand, however, the revival of cybernetic sculpture opens a particularly interesting question related to the criticism of the fetishization of an object from the past. The goal of this revival of past works is precisely in the fascination with their “obsolescence” or “retro-moment”. Even Ihnatowicz, who almost prophetically announced the revival of his work in the future, sees the central problem of the new creation of the work in the fact that the criteria of recreation of an artwork would be met by simply repeating the original construction. That would mean only the glorification due to the retro principle or “retrogarde fetishization”.
Artistic ideas of Ihnatowicz were from the very beginning of his work related to the technological revolution and a visionary view of the future. The fact is that the artistic and technological revolutions are for him necessarily linked. Therefore, according to the artist the revival of any artwork which exists at the intersection of technology and science, should take into account the new technology and its new possibilities that it brings by the advancement of technology. Anything else would only have a meaning as an interesting repetition of work that would not have a true artistic contribution.
Considering this thought of the cybernetic artist, we must therefore ask ourselves precisely about the gesture of the very reactivation of the work. We are asked a broader question of the meaning and goal of reviving media installations from the past to the present – do such repetitions of techno-works remain in the field of archiving for educational and cultural heritage or do they still belong to the field of art? Is it therefore a repetition of an artwork without technological upgrades inevitable something, which in itself has no aesthetic value or is it already in the very act of repetition possible to unravel something, which is not only simple iteration, but the act of creating the new? The later would mean that we are deriving from a specific philosophical concept of repetition (Kierkegaard, Deleuze), which encompasses the concepts of the “cut” or “break”, “discontinuity” and “production of the new” (Badiou).
In connection with the requirement to produce the new, much of which today also constitutes our perception of art, we touch another interesting aspect – a topic of obsolescence and duration of a form, which is, especially within the field of technology associated with the idea of progress, specific to the development of the capitalist mode of economic production. The issue of obsolescence is a very important issue in cybernetic art, which addresses the central moment on which the specificity of this type of artwork rests. By its definition, the cybernetic moment is constantly changing, upgrading and is completely subject to the laws of progress. What is then that what makes this kind of art to last in time? Is it perhaps that the moment of duration is actually inscribed in an art form? Is it precisely the art form or the artistic concept one that, is capable of eternity and universality, despite changes in technology? Is it the fact that the Senster was created as an artistic sculpture that “saves” this work from the obsolescence, and that its reactivation can be seen as something such as, for example, a new staging of Sophocles Antigone?