Artists: Yaron Lapid, Yossi and Guido Mar-Chaim,Marcus Schmickler & Carsten Goertz (Farn), Gilles Aubry,Mark + Laura Cetilia, Duprass (Liora Belford and Ido Govrin),hans w. koch, Karl Kliem/Dienststelle, and Amnon Wolman
Curators: Liora Belford, Ido Govrin, and Eyal Vexler
Traditionally, somewhat romantically, the artist is perceived as a solitary figure who works for itself and on its own, specifically within the artistic practice and, more generally, within certain aspects of his/her life. Congregating a number of artists in one space for the sake of a collective artwork is naturally a doable challenge: for both artist and curator. Moreover, as a sound exhibition, some of Laptopia #5’s conditions further problematize the overall presentation of the art. Conditions such as the unique architecture of the museum, its being one circular space, undivided by any separating walls, as well as the basic fact that working with sound as a raw material for the artwork is by essence abstract, diffusive and difficult to demarcate.
These conditions therefore incited unique interest in the question of utopia as a social matter (as reflected through the artistic practice) that is simultaneously objective and subjective; objective for every society and subjective to Laptopia #5 in its inquiry into the possibility of utopian creation within society.
The curatorial work inquiring in the feasibility of utopian creation within society required, on top of choosing the artists, minimal intervention and consisted of a limited number of instructions. The first request from the artists was to create a sound installation that will refer directly to the museum’s space, taking into consideration – and understanding – its unique geometrical structure. The geometrical conditions of the museum’s space fundamentally affect (almost) every acoustic behaviour, yet, we aspired to turn this disadvantage into an advantage, by an additional, subsequent act. The second request demanded that the works will engage with the concept of utopia. The third and final request from all artists was to give and receive some information from another artwork placed in the space, either near or further away within the exhibition space, that would comprise an integral part of their work. This created a pre-determined co-dependency between the artists, who were thus required to complete their work in the space itself in a ‘live’ working process shared by all artists, a short while before the exhibition’s opening. This act of informative, harmonic conjunction was a break from the natural tendency of artists in general and sound artists specifically to enclose and isolate themselves out of artistic justification, and required them to engage with the theoretical idea of the possibility of utopian creation within society and its actual realization within an exhibition.
Theodor Adorno, a philosopher, sociologist and musicologist, who was a founding member of the Frankfurt School, theorized our understanding of society in his book Sound Figures. To him, it is impossible to think about society either as a collection of facts or as a superior logical category. Society is a process- it creates itself and its sub-divisions, “fusing” them together up to the point of totality. From this aspect, totality can be considered in utopian terms.
Another key factor playing an important role in the concept of utopia is the use of technology within the realm of the aesthetic dimension – Laptopia #5 = Laptop + Utopia. The laptop represents a platform on which work, music, and the creation of contemporary artworks take place. This art, similarly to other fields of global society, is determined by the possibility of mobility, minimization, technologization, and “Cut and Paste” – possibilities of action with destructive outcomes resulted solely by humans. From this perspective man is theoretically capable of preventing this kind of destruction and of undoing these hypothetical actions. This undoing is utopian in essence because it enables the sowing of the theoretical seeds that estranged man from nature and the natural. This situation leads to the second issue this exhibition confronts, which is the meaning of the aesthetic dimension, based on technology, in this societal utopia.
Generally speaking, the aesthetic dimension possesses a power drawn from our admiration of beautiful objects. The mechanism of suspension followed by admiration is, so it seems, unique to mankind. In different disciplines of knowledge the aesthetic dimension acquires its significance out of a defined place, buy an aesthetic dimension that can be perceived as a neutral space presents a raw potential to facilitate a reaching out towards utopian ideas or the fulfillment, to a certain extent, of a ‘new’ social being for the 21st century. As such, an aesthetic dimension based on sound can accomplish this most efficiently. Sound and music are understood by many as more abstract than visual art, for example. We evoke this comparison to visual art because it enables us to solidify different aesthetic ideas by examining its reference to sound. A first physical reduction will paradoxically point out precisely the opposite assumption- a visual (material) representation of sound waves propagation in the air is easier to conceptualize than a similar representation of light waves- we can therefore claim that the light waves are more abstract than the sound waves. In fact, however, upon sensual experimentation- the situation is reversed= shapes are understood more easily than sounds, they maintain a stronger eye-object relation than ear-object. Therefore visual art that takes place in space is considered by many as more tangible- you can touch a shape but not a sound.
Perceiving a space that is external to the subject is more efficient, it seems, than an internal time perception, when s/he evaluates abstractness. Moreover, unlike visual art’s employment of different images in its materialization, sound is positioned closer to the abstract on the “abstract-figurative” axis (it is possible to evoke musical language and its images vis-à-vis the visual image that lends itself to the eye, but musical raw materials are not as tangible as the visual ones). In addition the different sounds we encounter on a daily basis are much closer in their nature to randomness and chaos than to patterns, stability, or consistency.