We are living in the epoch of the Anthropocene, which inevitably reflects on the impact of human action on our planet’s changing geology and the resulting ramifications for our civilisation’s survival and sustainability. In this light, the Museo Archeologico Nazionale ‘Domenico Ridola’ & Ex Scuola ‘Alessandro Volta’ in Matera, Italy are presenting the exhibition Blind Sensorium. Il Paradosso dell’Antropocene by Armin Linke, in collaboration with Giulia Bruno and Giuseppe Ielasi, until January 6, 2020.
Blind Sensorium. Il Paradosso dell’Antropocene is the culmination of 10 years’ of artistic inquiry by photographer and filmmaker Armin Linke and collaborators into the forces that change the face of the earth. The project has used one of the most expansive networks of technologies and sensors to accumulate knowledge about the planet and its ecosystems. And yet the knowledge generated by this technological sensorium is characterised by the blind spots of its own implication in the accelerated exploitation of nature.
Armin Linke has followed scientists and politicians and activists as he interrogates the often paradoxical relation between science, economy and political institutions in the age of climate change. The exhibition is like a vast visual anthropology of the conflicted role human beings and modern capitalist societies play in transforming the earth.
The earth’s landscape is undergoing visible changes, a fact known to all. Yet, what is visible is only a fraction of the changes that the planet is undergoing. The Anthropocene age, which has pushed human civilisation towards climate change and an unsustainable future, is even still being ignored by most due to the lack of visible radical changes as is being declared by the deniers. Even still, for the believers, the climatic changes are made known through vast technological infrastructures and the data they collect. These abstract processes become visible only as a new form of image, as scientific data-maps or operational images, linked in turn to vast infrastructures of technology.
Armin Linke’s work is an artistic reflection on the changing role of photography in a world governed increasingly by abstract processes and their material and conceptual infrastructure. The first part of the exhibition presents a wide selection from Linke’s photographic archive, staged as a multilayered laboratory. In these images from around the world, Linke demonstrates in particular how architecture and design can no longer be perceived in traditional ways in a time where human-made structures have become planetary in scale.
The subject of the exhibition then reflects on our changing relation to (deep) time under the conditions of the Anthropocene. The Anthropocene marks an almost-certain departure from the long period of climatic stability of the past 10,000 years - geologically known as the Holocene - and eclipses our entire record of known human civilisations. Under the conditions of the Anthropocene, deep time appears to press closer and closer to an increasingly destabilised present. How have we come to know the past, both of human history and the history of the earth? How is the image of the past linked to the use of land and to social order? The archeological record here is being juxtaposed with images of how humans are intruding into the earth and how the earth in turn is “intruding” into human history.
The exhibition further synthesizes more than 10 years of fieldwork by Armin Linke and his collaborators who have together produced a visual record of the politics of climate change. Through their visual data collection, they pose the question about the role of images in influencing the discourse on climate change. Curated by Anselm Franke, the exhibition then presents research from laboratories, data centers and negotiation rooms of the United Nations as well as interviews of scientists, politicians, and activists. The question in the end is whether the present institutions are capable of addressing the climate change challenge and if not, whether we are ignorantly floating in this climatic catastrophe endlessly waiting for the end.