A History of Speculation (2013)

A History of Speculation is an open-ended series of works that deal with the nature and the culture of the future.

Commissioned by Goethe Institute Moscow, curated by Esther Ruelfs and Ekaterina Lazareva. Many thanks to our conversation partners in science: Prof. Janna Levin, Barnard College of Columbia University; Prof. Anthony Crofts, University of Illinois; Dr. Janet Anders, University College London

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Artist Statement

Experimental setups are run inside a featureless virtual laboratory. Some of the simulations are re-enactments of recent events. Others are pre-enactments of a future that is bound to be unimaginably far beyond the possibility of human subjectivity or even existence. Uniting the simulations are questions about the way that we deal with time and the future, situated on a gradient between determinism and randomness, probability and uncertainty. We gravitate towards the view of thinkers like Ilya Prigogine, for whom the future is an emergent, irreversible and most of all probabilistic process of becoming where the future is a material which to some extent can be formed.

The simulations in A History of Speculation reflect this though the fact that they are to a certain degree shaped by inherent chance and randomness. In each run the objects behave slightly differently, the changes emerging from variations in the virtual flow of wind, angles of trajectories or flow patterns. The result of each simulation is thus unique and eventually a speculation in itself, built on science's assumptions about the natural world, on the resulting mathematical models and the computer as their tool.

Aesthetically the work connects to conceptual work that presents itself as a critique of the lab of a space that is as controlled as it is surreal. The images it generates stake their own claim to reality in their unworldliness.


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