The exhibition Molecular Minds // Monstrous Matters brings together the works of six artists and former Akademie Schloss Solitude fellows. Their contributions question and critically engage with heteronormative worldviews around consciousness research, machine learning, artificial intelligence, and self-experience.
Like a networked mind, Molecular Minds // Monstrous Matters unfolds amid several nodes of access by expanding from its own online space to the show Mind Over Matter at the Technische Sammlungen Dresden. As such, the works explore the concerns of the exhibition curated by Netzwerk Medien Kunst Dresden from a speculative, feminist, and decolonial point of view.
In dialogue with Mind over Matter, the artistic interventions speak about mechanisms of power, exclusion, and oppression encoded into the very concepts underpinning digital technologies. Yet they equally mobilize the digital medium to propose alternative visions for shared futures that are not exclusively white or Western.
The artists of Molecular Minds // Monstrous Matters then probe the power of a collective intelligence that reaches from the enhanced to the monstrous, the ancestral to the futurist, the molecular to the planetary, and from the human to the non-human. With creativity and visionary fuel, they unlock the digital realm as a space that comes with response-ability – the ability to respond to its architectures of power and to think with, to care for those it chooses to forget, erase, and leave behind.
In Nora Al-Badri’s Babylonian Vision, a pretrained neural network generates the so-called »techno-heritage.« This speculative approach to archaeology is based on the algorithmic recombination of images of Mesopotamian, Neo-Sumerian and Assyrian artefacts. These have been collected through web crawling and scraping the digital collections of five major museums. What emerges are AI-driven object visions that act as the subconscious of a collective memory. The violent colonial patina surrounding much of the cultural loss in the regions of today’s Iraq is thereby countered with a fictive, generative, and future-oriented object production.
Jan Nikolai Nelles gives voice to his Beheaded Buddha. Countless times the Buddha’s head has been forcefully separated from not only its body but also its cultural context. It becomes the marker of »cultural fracking,« the forceful removal of cultural heritage providing the subtext of many museum collections of the Global North. Underpinned by the artist’s own experience visiting Angkor Wat, Nelles’s 3D data objects have been generated by AI-driven waypoint technology and photogrammetry. They render visible the mathematical pictures and invisible space of AI and MI systems. In this poetic repositioning of the Buddha and its biography, Nelles seeks to liberate the spiritual figure from the concept of universal heritage and deconstructs the fiction inherent in dominant institutional narratives.
Rasheedah Phillips (Black Quantum Futurism) looks at the intersectional temporal experiences of Black women, femmes, girls, and nonbinary people, and the ways in which they are being actively erased from technologically-driven concepts of the future. Their Black Womxn Temporal [Web] Portal reflects on the algorithmic modeling of the seemingly singular, objective, and linear future that dominates Western societies. It counters these suppressive regimes by using the digital medium to instead devise a sustainable, intersectional, and living archive. Black Womxn Temporal [Web] Portal collapses the colonial notion of linear space and time to make experiential a time consciousness in which the present saturates the future, and the future and the past permeate the present.
Johanna Bruckner turns her artistic lens on the human body in light of its increasing penetration and appropriation by technology and AI systems. In her work Atmospheric Drafts of Intimacy, bodies merge, dissolve, and evaporate with their environments. Considering its post-industrial surroundings, the human scale has been relinquished in favor of states of aggregations, a modular commodity, a cultural artifact. Her filmic collage sharpens our senses for worlds in which humans and more-than-human bodies are entangled, fold over each other, and form new corporealities. The work thereby not only reviews what having a body or being a body means in our technological present; it also becomes a plea to imagination, a catalyst to enable infrastructures that help navigate the synthetic order of this world in a not-too-distant future.
Natasha Tontey, too, explores the present and future of non/human networks in Pest to Power / Hama Memberkati. The web experience centers around the cosmos of the cockroach, an animal from which humans have much to learn. As a species that has and will survive extinction events and epochal transformations, Tontey’s work introduces the cockroach as a rich source of alternative concepts of nonhuman intelligence and knowledge systems. Her quasi-science-fictional quest celebrates the idea of an ecocentric kinship urging humans to an act of unlearning in the process of thinking and modeling the (AI) systems of our future.
Along the same lines, Miriam Simun’s YOUR URGE TO BREATHE IS A LIE from her series Training Transhumanism (I WANT TO BECOME A CEPHALOPOD) proposes not a machine but a non-mammalian cephalopod as an evolutionary role model for human enhancement. Her video, developed in collaboration with luciana achugar, instructs psycho-physical regimes for human augmentation based on the cephalopod’s capabilities. In the face of rapid ecological and technological change, her work argues for a more-than-human intelligence. It rather proposes shape-shifting and distributed networks of knowledge that in turn may contribute to a different reading of our contemporary, a different way of seeing and being in the world.
Curated by Mara-Johanna Kölmel for the program Digital Solitude of the Akademie Schloss Solitude
Online Space by parmon
Design by Stephan Thiel and Anne Lippert
Exhibition architecture by Atelier Adhoc Arhitectura (George Marinescu & Maria Daria Oancea)
Sound »A Scattering of Spiral and Elliptical Galaxies« by Lamin Fofana
Special thanks to Thomas Dumke, Denise Sumi, Andreas Ullrich, and the teams of Akademie Schloss Solitude and Technische Sammlungen Dresden.
The hybrid exhibition project Molecular Minds // Monstrous Matters is part of the exhibition Mind over Matter of the Netzwerk | Medien | Kunst Dresden and takes place in cooperation with Digital Solitude program of Akademie Schloss Solitude.
Supported by: The Cultural Foundation of the Free State of Saxony and the Ministry of Research, Science and the Arts Baden-Wuerttemberg.
Cooperation partner: Netzwerk | Medien | Kunst Dresden of friendsofDresdenContemporaryArt e.V. (DCA) in cooperation with the Digital Solitude program of Akademie Schloss Solitude
On view: Technische Sammlungen Dresden and Online ( from March 4)