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Maribor 2012: Soft Control - Art, Science, and the Technologically Unconscious

Art, Science and the Technological Unconscious

International art exhibition, conference, workshops, lectures

November 14–December 15, 2012

Venues for the project:

Koroška galerija likovnih umetnosti (KGLU), Slovenj Gradec, Slovenia Portal – Valvazorjeva 40, Maribor, Slovenia
Multimedia Centre KIBLA, Maribor, Slovenia

Curator of the project: Dmitry Bulatov

Organized and produced by:

ACE KIBLA, Maribor, Slovenia
Koroška galerija likovnih umetnosti (KGLU), Slovenj Gradec, Slovenia

With the participation by:

The National Centre for Contemporary Arts (Russia)

Realized with the support:

Programme Culture of the European Union
European Capital of Culture Maribor 2012
The Ministry of Education, Science, Culture and Sport of Republic Slovenia Slovenj Gradec City Council, Slovenia
Maribor City Council, Slovenia


Science and technology constitute the visible embodiment of our ability to discover and make use of the laws of nature through the workings of our rational mind. But why have we chosen this path? What methods do we turn to, and how might this pose a potential threat to our existence? Although science and technology are usually considered tools dependent on practical and utilitarian concerns, in fact the motivations driving technological progress are much less straightforward. Before these tools and techniques are woven into the fabric of social life, the logical judgements lying at their foundation (generated by our rational capabilities) must pass through the complex labyrinth of the psyche. To what extent do the discourse and contexts of contemporary techno-culture depend upon the anthropological matrix that has traditionally united belief and ritual, the real and the imagined, the subject and the object?

The SOFT CONTROL: Art, Science and the Technological Unconscious exhibition reveals to us today's “technological unconscious”, which encompasses mythological imagination, apocalyptic visions and utopian dreams. SOFT CONTROL shows how the language and ideas of our modern post-biological society are capable of altering and reconfiguring the boundaries of our reality and our very identities. By focusing our attention on works of art created using the latest 21st century media – robotics, IT, biomedicine and nanotechnology – the artists featured in this exhibition attempt to reveal the sources of the modern technological myth, which insists on the permanent value of efficiency, control, unrestrained technological development and economic expansion.
We begin with the axiom that science and technology are not simply instruments to be used in the achieving of certain designated goals. On the contrary, the autonomy of technological systems and their active penetration into all spheres of human life allow us to conceptualize technology as an autotelic ontological entity that plays an ever-greater role in defining human development. The question arises of how one should understand the nature of control, the nature of the compulsion that forces the human to participate in the making of technological systems that, with time, will become not only inseparable from the biological organism, but, in the long term, will surpass it. Is structuring by technologies a manifestation of distinct, abstract “machinisms” that fill our unconscious, or is it a hidden “formatting” influence of the basic elements of medial carriers that possess their own materiality and reality?
In this environment, certain artistic strategies acquire increased significance: those strategies directed towards the formation of a new human right, the right to reinvent and rewrite the very foundations of the technological myth. This right assumes the possibility of creating new forms and new identities in a completely sovereign, artistic manner – not, however, as the protagonists of a historically determined narrative, but as the creators of that narrative. This practice bears witness to the capacity of the artists – and in the final account, of the viewers as well – to become the authors of their own constructed past. By demonstrating the logic of the appropriation and alteration of the technological myth, SOFT CONTROL articulates the primary task of the individual living in an age of new technologies: the construction of a living future (that is, a future that endows us with freedom), rather than a dead and mechanised future
being built without our participation.

Concept for the exhibition, conference and the educational program is developed by Dmitry Bulatov, 2011. Dmitry Bulatov is an artist, curator and art theorist. His research focuses on different aspects of interdisciplinary art media (sci-art, techno-biological arts, etc.), as well as on submediality aesthetics. He has curated about more than twenty major international
exhibitions and publishing projects in Russia and abroad. Since 1998 Bulatov is the senior curator at the Baltic Branch of the National Centre for Contemporary Arts (Russia).

Curated by Dmitry Bulatov (RU)

Artists: Marina Abramović (RS/US) with Suzanne Dikker and Matthias Oostrik (NL) / Bill Vorn (CA) / Stelarc (AU) / James Auger and Jimmy Loizeau (UK) / Polona Tratnik (SI) / Leo Peschta (AT) / Seiko Mikami (JP) / David Bowen (US) / Tuur Van Balen (BE) / Stefan Doepner and Lars Vaupel (SI / DE) / The Tissue Culture & Art Project: Oron Catts and Ionat Zurr (AU) / Floris Kaayk (NL) / Maja Smrekar (SI) / Kuda begut sobaki (RU) / Andy Gracie (UK/ES) / Brandon Ballengee (US) / Louis-Philippe Demers (SG) / Ursula Damm (DE) / Guy Ben-Ary in Kirsten Hudson (AU) / Boredomresearch: Vicky Isley and Paul Smith (UK) / Arthur Elsenaar and Remko Scha (NL)

Source: http://www.maribor2012.eu/en/nc/project/prikaz/113387/

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Founded by Russian entrepreneur Dmitry Itskov in February 2011 with the participation of leading Russian specialists in the field of neural interfaces, robotics, artificial organs and systems.

The main goals of the 2045 Initiative: the creation and realization of a new strategy for the development of humanity which meets global civilization challenges; the creation of optimale conditions promoting the spiritual enlightenment of humanity; and the realization of a new futuristic reality based on 5 principles: high spirituality, high culture, high ethics, high science and high technologies. 

The main science mega-project of the 2045 Initiative aims to create technologies enabling the transfer of a individual’s personality to a more advanced non-biological carrier, and extending life, including to the point of immortality. We devote particular attention to enabling the fullest possible dialogue between the world’s major spiritual traditions, science and society.

A large-scale transformation of humanity, comparable to some of the major spiritual and sci-tech revolutions in history, will require a new strategy. We believe this to be necessary to overcome existing crises, which threaten our planetary habitat and the continued existence of humanity as a species. With the 2045 Initiative, we hope to realize a new strategy for humanity's development, and in so doing, create a more productive, fulfilling, and satisfying future.

The "2045" team is working towards creating an international research center where leading scientists will be engaged in research and development in the fields of anthropomorphic robotics, living systems modeling and brain and consciousness modeling with the goal of transferring one’s individual consciousness to an artificial carrier and achieving cybernetic immortality.

An annual congress "The Global Future 2045" is organized by the Initiative to give platform for discussing mankind's evolutionary strategy based on technologies of cybernetic immortality as well as the possible impact of such technologies on global society, politics and economies of the future.


Future prospects of "2045" Initiative for society


The emergence and widespread use of affordable android "avatars" controlled by a "brain-computer" interface. Coupled with related technologies “avatars’ will give people a number of new features: ability to work in dangerous environments, perform rescue operations, travel in extreme situations etc.
Avatar components will be used in medicine for the rehabilitation of fully or partially disabled patients giving them prosthetic limbs or recover lost senses.


Creation of an autonomous life-support system for the human brain linked to a robot, ‘avatar’, will save people whose body is completely worn out or irreversibly damaged. Any patient with an intact brain will be able to return to a fully functioning  bodily life. Such technologies will  greatly enlarge  the possibility of hybrid bio-electronic devices, thus creating a new IT revolution and will make  all  kinds of superimpositions of electronic and biological systems possible.


Creation of a computer model of the brain and human consciousness  with the subsequent development of means to transfer individual consciousness  onto an artificial carrier. This development will profoundly change the world, it will not only give everyone the possibility of  cybernetic immortality but will also create a friendly artificial intelligence,  expand human capabilities  and provide opportunities for ordinary people to restore or modify their own brain multiple times.  The final result  at this stage can be a real revolution in the understanding of human nature that will completely change the human and technical prospects for humanity.


This is the time when substance-independent minds will receive new bodies with capacities far exceeding those of ordinary humans. A new era for humanity will arrive!  Changes will occur in all spheres of human activity – energy generation, transportation, politics, medicine, psychology, sciences, and so on.

Today it is hard to imagine a future when bodies consisting of nanorobots  will become affordable  and capable of taking any form. It is also hard to imagine body holograms featuring controlled matter. One thing is clear however:  humanity, for the first time in its history, will make a fully managed evolutionary transition and eventually become a new species. Moreover,  prerequisites for a large-scale  expansion into outer space will be created as well.


Key elements of the project in the future

• International social movement
• social network immortal.me
• charitable foundation "Global Future 2045" (Foundation 2045)
• scientific research centre "Immortality"
• business incubator
• University of "Immortality"
• annual award for contribution to the realization of  the project of "Immortality”.

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