Agnieszka Kurant: Errorism: Muzeum Sztuki, Łódź, Poland
Agnieszka Kurant's art explores the invisible: the flows of virtual capital, immaterial labour, concealed forms of exploitation, and fictions impacting reality. The artist has developed novel methods of producing artistic forms, speculating about the future of work and creativity while examining the blurred boundary between the natural and the artificial, the human and the nonhuman. The exhibition Errorism focuses on the simultaneously creative and destructive role of error in the face of modern automation and algorithmisation.
The presence of error is crucial to both evolutionary processes and human creativity. Many scientific discoveries considered to be the result of rational progress were in fact accidental. The goal of risk management, a neoliberal endeavor, is to prevent errors. However, such an approach fails to anticipate disasters or election results because it ignores the irrationality of many types of human behaviour. What will happen to creativity once artificial intelligence eliminates our mistakes and we stop erring? How will we acquire new knowledge or create culture? By asking questions about the value of error, Agnieszka Kurant continues to reflect on the ways in which societies evolve.
The works presented here ask questions about the relationship between an individual and collective intelligence. The term refers to the process of collective decision-making as well as novel forms that emerge from interactions among thousands or millions of humans, animals, molecules, or bacteria. This phenomenon occurs on the internet, in the world of insects, and between neurons in the human brain. It demonstrates that the whole is more than the sum of its component parts. Agnieszka Kurant often uses crowdsourcing strategies, a technique that allows her to shrewdly transcend boundaries between species or imposed by geograpy. Her work criticises contemporary capitalism, which exploits the labour of entire societies through a global factory, the product of which are digital footprints created through our behaviours and emotions.
Today, commodification concerns not only the world of material goods and services but also information. Information is the key to creating the simulation of the future. What we cannot predict, we try to calculate with the help of algorithms. The artist problematises methods of predicting the future and critically examines theories of progress shaped by colonialism and neoliberalism. Her interests also include the activities of insurance companies that speculate in risk: methods of trading around the unknown and the future. Today, data has become the most important asset of capitalism. It is yet another resource, like coal and oil, that drives the economic system devastating the planet. The artist analyses how it influences not only what is virtual but also that which is material: organic and mineral.
The works on display are the result of constantly occurring processes and the collective work of entire societies: para-geological structures, termite mounds, images borrowed from scientific simulations or generated with the help of algorithms. They all question the idea of individual authorship and of a stable, finite form. Agnieszka Kurant points out parallels between the cristalization and emergence of forms in biological, social, and virtual systems. For the artist, a mineral crystalizes much like the evolution of a sign or language, the circulation of memes and rumors, or the development of social movements and ideas. The exhibition presents various stages of emergence, growth, and decomposition of forms that reflect and comment on the ways societies evolve.