THE NEW HUMAN: Knock knock, is anyone home?


Moderna Museet Malmö is now presenting the second chapter of the extensive video-based exhibition project THE NEW HUMAN, continuing our exploration of the human condition in a rapidly changing world. This chapter of the project has the subtitle Knock, Knock, Is Anyone Home? and searches for remaining traces of human life, while examining the fading line between man and machine.

This show curated by Joa Ljungberg presented video works by Ed Atkins, Harun Farocki, Kerstin Hamilton, Helen MartenDaria Martin, Ursula Mayer, Mika Rottenberg, SUPERFLEX and Ryan Trecartin.


What engaged me the most was a film by Daria Martin (an artist whose 16mm films I had already been exposed to at the Maureen Paley gallery some weeks before) because it very straight forward dealt with posthumanism and artificial intelligence in relation to physical bodies (!!!). This video particularly inspired me to proceed with a little project that I have on the blog where i wish to explore further the translations between virtual and “real” (like I did in Marnie and the Real Pikachu in Unit 2) through kinesthetics.
SOFT MATERIALS, video, 2004

Soft Materials was shot in the Artificial Intelligence Lab at the University of Zurich where scientists research ‘embodied artificial intelligence’. This cutting edge area of AI produces robots which, rather than being programmed from the ‘head down’ by a computer ‘brain’, instead learn to function through the experience of their physical bodies.

Soft Materials introduces to these robots two performers, one man and one woman, trained in body awareness, acutely sensitive to the nuances of movement, primed to mimic the robots in a play of reciprocity. These performers shed skins of soft fabric, bear their joints like the frank structure of a machine, and, nude, approach the robots as if they were sentient beings. Creating intimate relationships that are in turns tender, funny and eerie, they bend flexible human fantasy around tough materials.


Also it relates somewhat to Soul Chain and my overall research. Quotes from the introduction to the show:

Several of the works in this chapter seem to point to a shift—perhaps a regression in human evolution, or a transformation into something new.

New technologies have the capacity to infiltrate our bodies and turn us into cyborgs, thus dissolving the categories we have used to divide the world into opposites, like living and non-living or natural and artificial.

The digital revolution has fundamentally changed the way we relate to the world and to each other, and there is no longer a clear dividing line between actual reality and virtual reality.

We communicate and socialize more and more through computers and screens.

A question that arises is whether it’s even going to be feasible to be “human” in the long run. Or if we—consciously or unconsciously—will develop into something else, into a new kind of being better suited to life in a high-tech world of our own creation.


Magnus Niska was the first person to have a prosthesis that is permanently implanted to his body connected with the nerves and muscles. He can control it with only his brain.


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