HYBRID MATTERs at Kunsthall Grenland
If we go for a walk in the woods while we are connected to the Internet, our experience of nature can be aided by local stories, maps and weather forecasts. These may enhance our experience and increase our personal security. In addition, we can share pictures and status updates with family and friends while we are out walking. Perhaps we receive comments on our pictures straightaway.
In a situation like this, the experience of nature cannot be separated from experience from the digital sphere. The information and comments we receive on our smart phones influence, perhaps even determine, our nature experiences. Our physical surroundings and digital technology combine in a well-functioning way - into a hybrid.
This in itself is not necessarily problematic, but I believe it would be wise to remember that there is a difference between being in a landscape and machine hybrid and being alone and out of reach in the woods. From an experiential perspective, the fact that we are online or offline may be more significant than whether we are in town or in nature.
We have a long tradition when it comes to altering the ecosystems around us, either in order to clear land for agriculture, or to build towns or changes that are due to industrial mishaps. When we cause changes that have manifestly damaged nature, we say that the area is polluted, and we may even state a point in time when the area will be restored and cleaned up. Previously though, nature has always been stronger than us – it has broken down what we have built up and re-established a viable balance in the ecosystems.
Now, however, the detritus from human activity has reached such proportions, both in extent and amount, that there is scarcely a single place on earth that is pure and untouched by human alluvia. Describing some particular area as polluted no longer has the same meaning. We have brought so much human-created material into the ecosystems that the balance has been altered. Due to machines, genetically modified plants, animals, bacteria and chemicals – we have influenced the whole spectrum. We can think of this as a hybrid ecosystem – a combination of nature and technology, where nature is no longer always the dominant part.
When we talk about a hybrid ecology, this encompasses both ecosystems and everything involved in them – independent of whether these are natural or human-created organisms, machines or digital networks.
The exhibition Hybrid Matters in Kunsthall Grenland presents five artworks that exist in this conceptual landscape.
Atle Barcley, Curator