“Suggested to Stanley that “they” might be machines who regard organic life as a hideous disease. Stanley thinks this is cute and feels weve got something.” Arthur C. Clarke
Matias Faldbakken’s exhibition project “A Hideous Disease” consists of five works produced for a presentation at the Statements’ section of Art Basel 38. Taking its title from a diary entry of scriptwriter Arthur C. Clarke written while working with Stanley Kubrick on “2001 A Space Odyssey” Faldbakken’s project revolves around the concept of ‘counterfeit intelligence’. How are the notions of ‘human worth’ and ‘capitalistic value’ contested when subjected to the rebellious fake?
A discussion of validity will necessarily be disturbed by the possibility of a perfect imitation. At the centre of Matias Faldbakken’s project are three close-up photographs of a flawlessly forged 100-dollar bill zooming in on the very fibers of the paper. Zooming back out “Supernote [PN-14342]” presents the question: how is possible to discuss worth and value when the imitation is at equal or superior quality to the original? In “A Hideous Disease” this question extends from the phenomenon of counterfeit to the idea of artificial intelligence. A hollow sculpture rendering a mainframe computer is brought into dialogue with a mug shot of a group of arrested Colombian counterfeiters, a morphed portrait of the actor Douglas Rain, and a hand-painted press image of a sculpture mimicking the monolith from “2001 ” together contesting the supremacy of human intelligence by introducing the insubordinate counterfeit.
Intelligence and the capacity of language are decisive for the concept of human worth. Artificial intelligence puts this measure of human worth to test. If a computer is able to process a written conversation (chat) with a person, without him or her realizing that they’re speaking to a computer, it raises questions whether the computer has a consciousness. Clarke and Kubrick exemplify this dilemma in “2001 ” through the computer HAL 9000. Hal possesses the ability of language, but through developing an independent will it also suspends the categories of real and non-natural intelligence. The portrayal of HAL is thus representative of fiction’s dealing with artificial intelligence; as aspiring to power and attempting at bringing human authority down. In Faldbakken’s project, the face rather than the voice of the actor Douglas Rain marks HAL’s presence. The morphed portrait revisits HAL’s degrading of consciousness through loss of language. This dissonant representation is equaled in a sculpture taking its form from a mainframe computer, the strongest calculating machine in the world. Here it remains inactive and unarticulated the mute, nominal surface reveals little of its content. Yet exactly the viewer’s uncertainty, while recognizing our societal system’s dependency on these computers, infuses the object with a haunting resonance of unknowing.
Adjacent to Faldbakken’s sculpture is the work “Funny Money Gang”. This inkjet print, glued onto the wall, portrays the members of a Colombian forgery league after their arrest handcuffed and presented to the press. The group loyalty of the counterfeiters is contrasted to the general, societal agreement loyalty to the concept of monetary value. Whereas money serves as the physical substitute of abstract capitalistic value, forgery attempts to appropriate a non-existing part of this value by imitating the substitute (notes and coins). When false value is circulated in a system of accumulated value, the accumulated value is contaminated with non-value. Secure signs of value are left unsure, as with the above-mentioned ‘supernotes’ that are presumed to have initially derived from North Korea. Deflectors from North Korea claim that the production of ‘supernotes’ is as important to the country as the nuclear program. As a perfect imitation, it both serves as a source of income and as a tool to undermine Western economy. Ironically, this activity could be said to bear marks of HAL 9000’s rebellious intelligence with equally a new world order as its aim.
Matias Faldbakken’s works have earlier been shown in various biennales and museum exhibitions including The Sydney Biennial (2004); Momentum The Nordic Art Biennial (2004); The 51st Venice Biennial (2005); Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; Frankfurter Kunstverein, Frankfurt am Main; Kunstverein Mnchen, Mnchen; ICA, London; PS1 MoMA, New York; CAC, Vilnius; Kunstwerke, Berlin; and St䤴isches Museum in Lenbachhaus, Mnchen. Faldbakken will later this autumn be subject to solo exhibitions at Midway Contemporary Art, Minneapolis and at STANDARD (OSLO), Oslo. During Art Basel Faldbakken will also launch his new book, “Not Made Visible”, published by Christoph Keller Editions/JRP Ringier, Zrich.
For further information please visit the webpage of Art Baselwww.artbasel.comor contact Eivind Furnesvik at email@example.com or +47 917 07 429. STANDARD (OSLO) is open Tuesday-Friday: 12.00-17.00 / Saturday-Sunday: 12.00-16.00, but will be closed during the week of the fair (11.06.-17.06.2007).
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“I’d Rather Be Gone”