Feelers, Sensors

Feelers, Sensors

In order to orientate ourselves in the world, we connect with it through our feelings and perceptions. We scan it with our senses, thereby adjusting our proximity to and distance from the Other. This year’s thematic focus Feelers, Sensors uses films, installations, sound works, performances, and spoken contributions to explore the role that sensory perception plays regarding the human and non-human experience of the world while also examining how a technologically enhanced sensorium is changing our orientation and interaction in the world.

We are observing an increasing privatisation of space, which also manifests itself in our sensory relationship with the outside, for instance when using noise cancelling to isolate ourselves from disturbing external stimuli. Online communication, as well as “smart” or “sensitive” technologies, are transforming the way we interact with each other through our senses, raising the question as to which forms of inclusion or alienation they promote. At the same time, embodied formats from group meditations to demonstrations can communalise or organise sensory and emotional experiences.

What challenge does the sentience of other living beings pose for the human self-image and the responsibility for their habitats? What or who is perceived, publicly seen, or heard is a political question. How can suffering which exceeds the individual’s perceptual capacity or paralyses speech remain communicable? How can we develop more sensitive feelers, and more equitable sensors?

An exhibition and three film programmes are developed around the thematic focus, which will be accompanied and interactively expanded by further live formats such as performances, workshops, and talks intended as spaces for encounters and exchange.

Curators’ statements and bios

Inga Seidler – Exhibition

The exhibition explores the possibilities and limits of sensory perception and the environments made accessible by it. Apart from the human senses, it also looks at the perceptual capabilities of plants and animals as well as machine perception. In the context of artificial intelligence, this term refers to the ability of computers to absorb and process sensory information in such a way that it resembles the human perception of the world. The works in the exhibition thus particularly raise questions about the roles that technology plays (or could play) in the context of perception, experience, and sensemaking.

Inga Seidler has been working as a curator in the field of digital culture and media art for many years. Her current activities include exhibitions and programmes for EMAF, Kassel Dokfest, and the Goethe Institute. She is a board member of anorak e. V. and part of several advisory committees and juries.

Jamie Crewe – Film programme

In Tell My Horse: Voodoo and Life in Haiti and Jamaica (1938) American author, anthropologist and filmmaker Zora Neale Hurston observes Haitian people mounted by Guedé, a “god of derision”. With their lips Guedé says “tell my horse”, and launches into spectacular invective and behaviour. His horses speak devastating revelations, defame their rulers, prance and gallop, splash their eyes with rum, or leap to their deaths. As channels for their god, they are able to say and do things they could not do unridden. When unable to speak, people or horses—minds or bodies—find other means of expression: no silence can be maintained.

Jamie Crewe is a beautiful bronze figure with a polished cocotte’s head. She grew up in the Peak District, England, and is now settled in Glasgow, Scotland. Jamie thinks about constriction: the way people are formed by their cultures, environments and relationships, and the things that herniate from them as a consequence.

Oraib Toukan – Film programme

Is this really the wonderful Palestinian poet and writer Mahmoud Al Shaer asking: “Is this my mouth saying gas, flour, drinking water, washing water, coffee, biscuits, qasef, zananah, tayarah, tuna, beans, cup, battery, internet, connect, disconnect, oven, fire, yeast, salt, sugar, mattresses, sheets, pillows, carpet?”. To stream pain real-time. Command-Tab. Silence. Feelers, sensors––¬¬––¬¬––– from where in the body should we fathom this? From this earth that makes life worth living, maintained Mahmoud Darwish. “From the hesitance of April, the smell of bread at dawn…the beginning of love, a herb bush on a stone”. This programme foregrounds the heart as a fundamental sensorial organ – an organ whose purpose is to see and to hear. To this aim, works that explore suffering or struggle are combined with works that explore desire. Ultimately, the two are presented as one and the same.

Oraib Toukan is an artist, writer and educator. She is author of the book Sundry Modernism (Sternberg Press, 2017), and the films Via Dolorosa (2021), and When Things Occur (2017) among others. She holds a PhD in Fine Arts from Oxford University, Ruskin School of Art (2019).

Anna Zett – Film programme

Audiovisual media connect points of our own imagination with points in the imagination of other people. The network of perceptions, narratives and symbols created in this way, just like memory, does not represent a realistic image of reality in the individual brain. It is a reality of its own – a form of social dreaming. What role do I play as a spectator, how much freedom am I given to participate in the process of this association? What happens to me at the moment of reception, what do I allow, what do I reject? The programme understands filmmaking and film screening as a participatory, poetic practice, driven by the desire for connection and supported by the conviction that a shared reality is constantly being created anew between individual sensations and perceptions.

Anna Zett is an artist and author. Her analytical and emotional practice questions dominant structures and creates space for open dialogue, personal experience, and free association. This has resulted in films, books, radio plays, installations, and participative live formats, which are shown in an international art context and at festivals.