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RALF BAECKER IN SE ARCH OF PRECISE PLEASURES Exhibition Opening 27th July 2013 – 20.00 30.07.2013 10.08.2013

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As a fundamental objection to ethical hedonism an “Experience Machine” (Robert Nozick (1974): Anarchy, State, and Utopia) condenses in itself much more than the attempt to prove that something far more substantial exists than just pure pleasure. The hedonistic approach - “pleasure is the only intrinsic good” - is being opposed to the idea that the choice between everyday reality and a supposed simulated reality can exist as an image. Thereby the existence of the imaginable becomes a reality itself. It is the attempt of imagineering (Nozick), of an option, which articulates the notion of a “Pleasure Machine” (also ‘’Experience Machine’’). This means that a yes-no or 0-1 rule and above all, a logical choice can effectively weaken the concept of ‘’pleasure is the good’’. In Nozick’s thought experiment an “Experience Machine” or “Pleasure Machine” is imagined. What proves to be particularly complex is the imagining itself. Therefore, to actually imagine ​​a “Pleasure Machine” in everyday reality is an imaginary act in the sense of the philosopher R. Nozick. To substantiate a pleasure thus becomes an experimental object itself and the inherent aesthetics of the digital is therefore not sought in individual images, but rather in all image categories (Frieder Nake (2005): The Precise Pleasures. Early Computer Graphics and New Interactive Works, ZKM). The idea of choosing between real and imaginary is thus itself a machine, where the choice between everyday life and utopia means a transformation, as in the case of the transformation of electrical impulses into mechanical modules or gravitation into a deceleration-module.

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E In the work of Ralf Baecker devices and machines are bound in their functional mechanisms by natural laws, where they go through their endless possible states in transporting information on cords, electrical impulses and mechanical lever constructions. The starting point in this case represents a decision / option that complicates itself increasingly in the course of its functioning. An early decision /choice generates a simple input, abstractly as well as technically. Thereafter, the options reproduce independently and always refer to each other; The environment controls the operation of each individual segment. Operations, signal carrier and delay modules thereby form a “one-dimensional cellular automat” (R. Baecker - Rechnender Raum). The laws of physics are at the same time the output medium and the signal of the “apparatus” itself, you could say the set of rules to which a “machine” is geared, in order to illustrate acceleration, deceleration and time. Here, a reversal of the simulated into the everyday takes place, of the digital into the mechanical: the output medium is not a purely digital (simulated) input, it is in this sense not imagined. Instead, the input is subject to mechanical or physical laws (such as gravity or electrical conductivity) without being digitally modified. The input is dispersed and multiplied into signals without being alienated in its shape, though its complexity and multiplications are composed of diffusion’s. The “machine” instead remains self-contained, specific and always logically referring to itself.

Text: Sandra Moskova

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RECHNENDER RAUM (2007)

The inverted machine – Rechnender Raum (Computing Space) is a light-weight sculpture, constructed from sticks, strings and little plumbs. At the same time it is a full functional logic exact neural network (*). Through its strict geometric and otherwise delicate construction, the observer is able to track the whole processing logic from every viewpoint around the machine. This disclosure of the machines core is enforced by an uncommon distribution of its constructing elements: a nine angled architectural body forms a torus. In contrast to an ordinary alignment of a hidden logic and an outer user facing display its geometric basis is turned inside-out. The core of the machine,

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with all its computing elements, is shifted outwards on the surface, while the “display� which indicates the results of the tasks is displaced into the center of the system. Even though the tasks and their logic runs directly in front of the viewers eyes and even if one is long sinking into the interaction of the elements which is accompanied by a polyphonic but steady and reassuring buzz, it is not possible to follow the succession of the single conditions of the machine. On one hand by turning the machine insideout its function is completly transparent, on the other hand a strict self-referentiality and ignorance to the viewer is realized.

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E The machine turns away from the visitor and carries out its computations only for itself. Without depending on interaction or requesting it, it goes through its own states endlessly. The results of the computations are sent inwards -into its own center- they are not intended for the viewer. So an interesting paradox appears: while the machine opens up everything it closes it at the same time, as if it has a secret.

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(*) Rechnender Raum units operate similar to a very basic artifical neural network. Like a McCulloch-PittsNeuron with static weights (threshold) it implements the basic boolean functions NOT/AND/OR. Rechnender Raum consists of over 200 boolean units that form a parallel operating cellular automaton.

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CRYSTAL SET SELF-TEST (2011)

Crystal Field Oscillator and Crystal Set / Self-Test are two elements from a series of works: Irrational Computing. IC is an artistic test of material, aesthetics and potentials of the digital. The basic raw materials of our surrounding information technology are semiconductor crystals such as silicon, quartz or silicon carbide, which, thanks to today’s advanced microtechnology and extremely sophisticated procedures, are processed into transistors or integrated circuits (IC), with the materiality of modern microprocessors having long since ceased to be graspable. The extreme miniaturization and the black-box set-up elude visual interpretation. The Installations circuit runs counter to developments in information technology, representing the system in a dimension that is enlarged many times over.

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The project thus corresponds to an extreme zooming-in on the smallest “physical� units of digital processes. The installation consists of five interlinked modules that use the varied electrical and mechanical particularities and characteristics of crystals and minerals and, through their networking, form a kind of primitive macroscopic signal processor. The crystals used for the purpose are either taken directly from nature, industrial waste products or have been especially cultivated for the purpose. A silicon carbide crystal, for example, is made to light up at numerous points with the help of electrodes (LED). On the crystal piece, there appears a kind of display, which is targeted by the data flows generated by other modules.

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E At the same time, the crystal functions as a sound generator, since the electrical impulses change the surface of the crystal, causing it to vibrate. Via loudspeakers, these microscopic reverberations are made audible for visitors. Digital systems, in their function, are conceived logically and rationally. The lowest physical or electro-technical level (crystals with semiconductor properties) are based, however, on quantum mechanical, i.e. statistical or unpredictable processes. Modern computer technology has thus tamed and domesticated the chaotic, so to speak. In his work, Ralf Baecker comments on this paradox by examining the aesthetics of the materials from which has developed a global digital network. “Irrational Computing” is not supposed to “function” – its aim is to search for

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the poetic elements on the border between “accuracy” and “chaos.” Crystal Set / Self-Test is an early version of ICs “SIC Display” that runs in self-test modus, probing resistance, current flows and response times in a silicon carbide specimen, a closed feedback analyses its logical structure. Crystal Field Oscillator is a home grown crystal surface that is stimulated by four oscillators. Through their mechanical coupling a steady alternating signal evolves. Crystal Set was produced with the kind support of the Edith Russ Site for Media Art, Oldenburg. Irrational Computing was produced by DOCK e.V. with the support of the Schering Stiftung, Berlin.

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10.08.2013

30.07.2013

E LF K A C R AE B

Opening

8 pm

27.07.2013

Exhibition

IN SE ARCH OF PRECISE PLEASURES

R Organised by Daniel Franke (LEAP) Kai Kreuzmüller (LEAP) John McKiernan (LEAP) Sandra Moskova (Text) Florian Lamm (Grafikdesign) Julian Sharifi (LEAP Intern)

LEAP

Lab for Electronic Arts and Performance

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Karl-Liebknecht-Straße 13 10178 Berlin

www.leapknecht.de

info@leapknecht.de

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Ralf Baecker "In search of precise pleasures"