ZKM shows “PERFORM!”

Writing the History of the Future

The ZKM Collection

Sat, 20.06.2019 – Sun, 28.03.2021

In an extraordinary compilation, ZKM presents the main works from its globally unique collection.

The collection of the ZKM | Karlsruhe ranks among the largest media art collections in the world. It exemplifies the transformation of art in the face of changing technologies of production, reception, and distribution. Artists react to changes in media  and sometimes anticipate developments that only years later will be taken for granted by society as a whole: they write the history of the future.

Media determine to a great extent how we express our thoughts and feelings, how we communicate, and how we remember the past. Johannes Gutenberg’s movable metal letters fundamentally changed Europe’s culture of knowledge in the middle of the 15th century, just as photography changed the fine arts in the middle of the 19th century, and the Internet transformed our entire private and public communication at the end of the 20th century. The development of art went from moving letters to moving images and moving viewers; from the book page to the website, from the canvas to the screen.

»Writing the History of the Future. Part I« looks at art from the middle of the 20th century onwards. The exhibition shows aesthetic experiments with script and language that engage with different media. It presents the first attempts at computer-generated graphics and poetry as well as contemporary works dedicated to the automation of the creative act. It also addresses the material conditions of individual and cultural memory – between erasing and forgetting, storing and remembering.

New technologies provide the individual with ever new means to create images, texts, and sounds. They expand her or his scope for action. The exhibition provides a precise insight into the history of viewer activation – from Op-Art to physical interventions in variable pictorial objects to the instructions for action of the art of the »performative turn«.

Part I of »Writing the History of the Future« provides an insight into the early history of participation and digitization, which was developed not only in electronic art, but also in experimental literature and the visual arts of traditional media. We show the development of the mobilization of art – from the moving letter to the moving viewer – from kinetics and Op-Art to early computer art from the 1950s onwards.

Part II of »Writing the History of the Future« will be opened on July 19, 2019 at 6 pm. The exhibition on the ground floor is dedicated to the history and utopias of video art, computer-based arts, holography, and sound art.

In Part II is shown “PERFORM!“, the re-enactmant game created by Denis Isaia and Hannes Egger.

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