Ursula Damm: Non-machines Meet Art

Until about 50 years ago, there was no place in Western art for living beings; they were subjects of representation, but not present as active agents in an artwork. Since non-machines appeared with their performance in visual art, they caused a commotion, a malfunction and a scandal. Non-machines seem to remain incalculable for the creators of artifacts, the humans themselves. Non-machines can even be seen as a measure of a technology’s ability to consistently describe reality, and where our concepts of reality may fail. Looking into art history and my own practice, I will show how curators and exhibition makers experience non-machines as unpredictable elements in their habitat. Non-machines challenge the practices of contemporary art, which is why I want to give an outlook on ways to improve the networks between audiences and non-machines.

Ursula Damm studied sculpture at the Art Academy in Düsseldorf, followed by postgraduate studies at the Academy of Media Arts in Cologne. Since 2008, she has held the Chair for Media Environments at Bauhaus University, Weimar, where she established a DIY biolab and the Performance Platform at the Digital Bauhaus Lab. Ursula Damm has exhibited worldwide, including numerous installations on the relationship between nature, science, and civilization. Her book “Shared Habitats”, co-authored with Mindaugas Gapševičius, was published by Transcript Verlag in 2021.







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