Narratives on the age of non-human actors

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Photo: Tanja Kanazir / Drugo more (Flickr gallery)

We are excited to announce The World Without Us, a group exhibition curated by Inke Arns, featuring the works of international new media artists Timo Arnall, Ignas Krunglevicius, Mark Leckey, Nicolas Maigret & Maria Roszkowska, Yuri Pattison, Sascha Pohflepp, Suzanne Treister, Addie Wagenknecht and Pinar Yoldas.
Set in Mali salon Gallery (Korzo 24, Rijeka), the exhibition will open on Thursday, 7th of September at 8 PM, and will stay on view until September 22nd. Admission is free.


The exhibition asks what a world without us would be like. But rather than conjuring up a post-disaster scenario, it describes such a world as the result of a gradual development whose origins can be traced back to our day and age. Taking its cues from science-fiction literature and the philosophical school of Speculative Realism, the exhibition largely relies on the principle of extrapolation.

The tools for the creation of a “world without us” are at hand. The first driverless cars are driving on our streets, news articles are compiled by algorithms, and translations are done by machines. Already in 2009 a third of all shares in the EU and the US were traded by algorithms. We can only speculate on the current proportion.

In a “world without us” humans will be replaced by machines, artificial intelligences will be optimized by other AIs and algorithms will be programmed by other self-learning algorithms. In this way, a radically different, post-anthropocentric world could emerge in which non-human life forms could eventually prove better able to adapt than man himself. Benjamin Bratton said of such a world in 2014: “Worse than being seen as the enemy (by AI) is not being seen at all.”

The increasing influence of non-human actors in our everyday life has not only been explored by several recent blockbusters, including Her (2013), and in TV series such as Black Mirror (2011) and Real Humans (2012), but also in contemporary (media) art. Loosely inspired by Timothy Morton’s book Ecology Without Nature, the artists in this exhibition explore the possibility of an ecology after man – an age of the post-Anthropocene, in which other “life” forms, such as algorithms, artificial intelligence, artificially created nanoparticles, genetically modified micro-organisms and seemingly monstrous plants, have taken control. This new era, which has already begun, albeit imperceptibly, is the age of non-human actors.

Svijet bez nas, foto: Jure Goršić / AksiomaPhoto:  Miha Fras / Aksioma

The World Without Us was originally produced and presented by HMKV in Dortmund, Germany in 2016. For the 2017 Ljubljana version a selection of the Dortmund show was made and some works of the exhibition alien matter (curated by Inke Arns for the transmediale festival, HKW, 2017) were added to The World Without Us.

As a part of the project State Machines – Art, Work, and Identity in an Age of Planetary-Scale Computation, the exhibition was presented in Ljubljana from June 27th until August 27th.



Inke Arns, PhD, artistic director of Hartware MedienKunstVerein (HMKV) in Dortmund since 2005. She has worked internationally as an independent curator and theorist specializing in media art, net cultures, and Eastern Europe since 1993. After living in Paris (1982-1986) she studied Russian literature, Eastern European studies, political science, and art history in Berlin and Amsterdam (1988– 1996) and in 2004 obtained her PhD from the Humboldt University in Berlin with a thesis focusing on a paradigmatic shift in the way artists reflected the historical avant-garde and the notion of utopia in visual and media art projects of the 1980s and 1990s in (ex-)Yugoslavia and Russia. She curated exhibitions at Bauhaus (Dessau), n.b.k. (Berlin), Moderna galerija (Ljubljana), Künstlerhaus Bethanien (Berlin), Karl Ernst Osthaus Museum (Hagen), Museum of Contemporary Art (Belgrade), HMKV (Dortmund), Centre for Contemporary Arts – CCA (Glasgow), KW Institute for Contemporary Art (Berlin), Videotage (Hong Kong), Museum of Contemporary Art Vojvodina (Novi Sad), Centre for Contemporary Art Zamek Ujazdowski (Warsaw), Centre for Contemporary Art “Znaki Czasu” (Toruń), Contemporary Art Centre CAC (Vilnius), Muzeum Sztuki (Łodz), La Panacée (Montpellier), Jeu de Paume (Paris), Autocenter (Berlin), Kunstpalais (Erlangen), Haus der Kulturen der Welt (Berlin), Kunsthal Charlottenborg (Copenhagen). She has curated numerous exhibitions at home and abroad, a.o. History Will Repeat Itself (2007), Arctic Perspective (2010), The Oil Show (2011), Sounds Like Silence (John Cage – 4’33’’ – Silence today / 1912 – 1952 – 2012) (2012), His Master’s Voice: On Voice and Language (2013), World of Matter (2014), „Now I Can Help Myself“ – The 100 best online video tutorials (2014), Evil Clowns (2014), Hito Steyerl: Factory of the Sun (2016), Whistleblowers & Vigilantes (2016), The World Without Us (2016), alien matter (2017), and The Brutalism Appreciation Society (2017). Author of numerous articles on media art and net culture, and editor of exhibition catalogues. Books include Neue Slowenische Kunst (NSK) – an analysis of their artistic strategies in the context of the 1980s in Yugoslavia (2002), Net Cultures (2002), Objects in the mirror may be closer than they appear! The Avant-Garde in the Rear-View Mirror (2004).
Inke Arns talking about her trip to Nigeria

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