Ralf Baecker: THE PARADOX OF KNOWING UNIVERSALS


The discussion of phenomena of digital culture and the societal change evoked by digitisation forms a main focus in the program of the Kasseler Kunstverein. Thus, exhibitions like “Hello World!” of the artist Aram Bartholl or „No Limit “of the group UBERMORGEN.COM ask for the political, social and psychological effects of the internet. Ralf Baecker thematically fits into this array of exhibitions and investigates with his so-called „poetic machines“ the material culture of computer technology.

For instance, Ralf Baecker transfers the abstract processes inside of a silicon chip into mechanical arithmetic apparatuses. His machines spatialise what happens in the computer between zero and one with electric motors and wooden levers: the complexity of the digital world is translated segmentally in fragile, three-dimensional constructions. Baecker compiles descriptive models which offer unique insights into the essence of computer science, machines in permanent action which generate new forms and sounds with minimal movements.

With his works Baecker provokes speculations about the perception of digital processes and states. For instance in the installation „NOWHERE”, in which the history of internet search-inquiries is milled in hard foam creating a miniature scenery with mountains and gulches. How real does the mass of search-inquiries appear to us running through a server every other second? And which idea of reality does the embodiment of data in this model refer to?

In search of the materiality of the digital, Baecker, in the work „CRYSTAL Set”, installs electrodes on a crystal made of silicon carbide which lights up parts of the crystal. Silicon, the raw material of all digital devices, becomes visible in its natural form and also in its meaning for digital arithmetic processes with this amazingly easy concept.

Baeckers´ works reveal the complex mechanisms and principles behind the digital technology. They aim at the essential being of calculating machines: at their inherent logic as well as at their materiality. Over and over again, Baecker refers to the historical development of (computer-)technology and in this manner opens a historically-conscious perspective on the progressive digitisation.

For the first time the Kasseler Kunstverein offers Ralf Baecker the chance to display several of his extremely complex and elaborate works in one context. Projects from 2007-2015 as well as the new work „interface“ are combined in the exhibition “The Paradox of Knowing Universals” with a lab space which shows the origination process of the works. At the same time the lab offers a platform for an extensive program with workshops, talks and performances which complement the exhibition with practice- projects and a theoretical discourse.