Eno Henze's work blends the topology between art, science and philosophy. What comes out of all his theorizing are these beautiful large scale abstract computer drawings.
There is a subjective micro-universe in every one of us that defies scientific description. And scientific language becomes very philosophical and blurry when looking at either the smallest, the largest or the oldest parts of our universe.
This topology between art, science and philosophy is riddled with cracks and grab handles that invite me to criss cross between these disciplines. Using scientific signatures as an artist produces some kind of pseudo-science, that doesn’t proof anything, but focuses on the aesthetic component of science and triggers a discussion about how scientification transforms our self-conception.
These are very much human considerations. Why do you use a computer for your work, then?
First of all, to me the computer is a machine of abstraction. At it’s core it operates completely abstract, with only two states of information:
true and false. Through a process of enourmous complexification of the structure of this machine, we are able to address issues of a superior quality with it, a quality that does not look as if its was reducible to a binary logic. But in fact it is. So if I use a computer for subjective and sometimes vague issues as in art, I can only use it as an exterior entity. It’s inhuman qulity becomes very apparent when I ‘talk’ to the machine. I have to condition my intention in a way the machine understands. Hence it is a sparring partner that forces me to translate my thoughts into a language of extra-human paradigms. This way, they obtain an absoluteness and abstraction that is impossible to achieve ‘manually’ - and in turn the untranslatable becomes obvious, too. Between human and machine is a border that can be crossed from both sides, each time transforming the quality of the crossing object, and leaving the untranslatable behind. It is a productive economy at this border, that constantly produces unanticipated results, on both conceptual and formal levels.
Do you always employ such philosophical topics?
“The search for the absloute” features a characteristic property of my work, yes: my affection for philosophical and scientific concepts. I use them as a starting point for an aesthetic research or artistic comment. The other property is a more formal aspect that keeps reoccurring in my work: my collaboration with a machine or with the computer.
I just want to understand how ‘our world works’. I’ve been reading “Spektrum der Wissenschaft” as a child and I am addicted to reading scientific journals today. It is not the functional inventions that fascinate me, but rather the recreations science produces on both aesthetic and utopian levels (very beautiful sometimes). I see the visual artefacts of science as an aesthetic challenge, but also to show that there are a lot of different takes on the concept of ‘our world’, not only one objective scientific interpretation. There is a subjective micro-universe in every one of us that defies scientific description. And scientific language becomes very philosophical and blurry when looking at either the smallest, the largest or the oldest parts of our universe.
This topology between art, science and philosophy is riddled with cracks and grab handles that invite me to criss cross between these disciplines. Using scientific signatures as an artist produces some kind of pseudo-science, that doesn’t proof anything, but focuses on the aesthetic component of science and triggers a discussion about how scientification transforms our self-conception. The other way round, I use philosophical concepts or ideas and give them a visible shape, like I did in “der Wirklichkeitsschaum” (the reality foam).
Could you illustrate this with a concrete example?
Lets look at the pieces “When did you first feel the urge ...” and “Systemstrahlung” (System Radiation) that comment on each other and were exhibited in the same room. “When did you first feel the urge ...” is actually a reconstruction of an experiment conducted by the neuro scientist Benjamin Libet in the 60ies. A test person could choose to press a button at any moment - but he should remember the position of a circulating dot on a screen in front of him. Libet showed, that an unconscious activity in the brain preceeds every decision to press the button, and hence he questioned the concept of free will that had been fundamental to philosphy and religion for centuries (His argument was essential to the discussion of the philosphical implications of neuro science in the past decades). The ‘reenactment’ of this experiment recalls this controversial thesis and transforms it into a minimalistic videosculpture, that obviously has its references in works of Nam June Paik (TV Buddha) and Dieter Kiessling (Star). On the opposite wall of this piece I had shown prints of the series “System Radiation”. I had written a computer software that created an unlimited number of different drawings following a set of rules. I juxtaposed these two works, because in “System Radiation” the execution of my free will (by selecting which drawing was good and which was bad) was the fundamental artistic action. Without this selection the piece would just have been an illustration of a mere set of mathematical formulas, driven by chance.
In contrast, “Der Wirklichkeitsschaum (the reality foam)” ermeges from a philosophical idea, an abstract concept of reality that is not subject to scientific evidence - which I then tried to cast into a visual form. It is is based on the idea that every real thing is irreducible to a point, but rather constitues a multidimensional sphere - of meanings, of historic references, of deliminations and exlusions and so forth. This is how things and ideas manifest themselves in ideal space, being in a continuous dynamic state. From a macroscopic perspective the things of reality form a large aggregation of spheres, a foam in ideal space - the reality foam. ‘Der Wirklichkeitsschaum’ is an attempt o visualize the structure of our perception, or a formalitsic approach to our creation of reality.