Wladimir Velminski, Petra Gehring, Karin Harrasser
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Friday, 6 December, 7 p.m., Bauhaus stage, Dessau

Hannah Hurtzigin collaboration with Philipp Hochleichter, Karin Harrasser and Susanne Sachsse.

Interface and adapter issues
A conversation staged by the Mobile Academy Berlin

To close the second day of the symposium at the Bauhaus Dessau, Mobile Academy Berlin stages a conversation between three scholars, who discuss an aspect of the man-machine theme, which the Bauhaus overlooks.

Photos: Doreen Ritzau

Schlemmer studied the mechanisation of man and, by systematically putting this idea into practice in formal stage exercises, aimed to discover what couldn’t be mechanised. The research objective was an outerworldly freedom of movement, a technical, organic and transcendental change for the better on the way to the invention of the complete machinist (of theatrical productions). The Bauhaus held a promise for the future and worked on a mathematical version of the man-machine-world. The recent past, the just experienced traumas of the machine war, which had turned people into the suppliers of materials, was of comparatively little interest to the Bauhaus. Neither the social impact of the war nor the technologies applied to the disabled body, the prostheses, where the injured man and mechanical science coincide and must mend, interconnect and fit, make an appearance on the Bauhaus stage. Neither the wounds that this interface can portray, nor its replacement parts, are addressed.
The three invited scholars are experts in interface issues with different research approaches. Petra Gehring’s subject is the issue of dying and technology in biomedicine; Karin Harrasser researches the cultural history of knowledge of prosthetics and Wladimir Velminski publishes on Soviet thought experiments and machine theories. All three are united in their mistrust of the technological implementation of an internalised culture of self-improvement and aesthetic cognitive self-techniques and wish to bring the vulnerability and fragility of body and soul back into the arena of action and the imagination. Based on three narratives from the arts and sciences, they will illustrate the interface and adapter issues which the Bauhaus overlooks.

At this evening event, the scholars will however also act as models for three Bauhaus table-chair ensembles, which, thanks to standardised mass production, have come to be a logo for the furniture Mecca, Bauhaus. During the event the suites will be photographed for a catalogue of the designer furniture outlet “Das Schoene” in Reutlingen, which also sponsors the evening. During the rearrangement breaks, actor and auto-icon Susanne Sachsse will step into three of the figurines recently and generously gifted to the Bauhaus by the Senac University Center São Paulo.

The documentation of the evening will subsequently be shown in the exhibition.

Philosophy is a science of observation – and one, which also observes how science establishes its own themes, along with the pertinent forms of representation: datasets and numerical bundles, images and terminologies as well as sufficiently reliable technical effects (e.g., a mobile, a flashing, an “interactive” artefact). This is where Petra Gehring’s techno-philosophical works begin. In objects as in specific human bodily functions or in the brain, all these forms that produce realities come together, whether in the thought experiment, in the laboratory or just “out there”, at that point where we realise: it is about “us”. What happens when the experimental lab-based research changes fields and confronts its model worlds with living everyday worlds and that, which is historically self-evident to us? Which practices, norms, forms of experience and fields of power are changed? More particularly, what becomes of “dying”, “death” and “life”?

In recent years Karin Harrasser has engaged with the cultural history of knowledge of prosthetics. While what we know of the body and technology is limited, intuition tells us that our body cannot be endlessly manipulated. And although we have lived in cooperation with technological machines for a long time, we have only a limited stockpile of images, narratives and terms with which to describe this living (and dying) with machines. This is partly because the possibility of extending human life through technology is admixed with health policy and economic issues. This raises classical questions about what the “good life” means, about the right to imperfection and resource equity. It also raises a few post-classical questions about models of co-agency with machines, about parahumanity and the broadening of Pataphysics: towards a science of the particular.

“Communism is Soviet power plus the electrification of the whole country”. With this slogan, Lenin distilled the revolutionary goals of his country. But what did this mean? The research of the historian of art and science Wladimir Velminski revolves around the brain and thought experiments of the Soviet Union, from its foundation to its collapse. As a Dilthey Fellow at ETH Zurich he investigates the theories and practices of the Soviet Union, the impact of which extended up to the public sphere, and opened up for the apparatus of state diverse thought control mechanisms on the domestic and foreign front.

Susanne Sachsse is an actor and director. She was involved in the Berliner Ensemble and worked there with Heiner Müller, Robert Wilson and Einar Schleef. In 2001 she founded the artists’ collective CHEAP. She works in a range of performance and art contexts with, among others, Yael Bartana, Phil Collins, Keren Cytter, Hannah Hurtzig, Katya Sander and Vegard Vinge/Ida Müller and has realised a number of film and theatre projects with the Canadian filmmaker Bruce LaBruce. During a two-year research visit to Los Angeles she began her enduring collaboration with Vaginal Davis. Her first film Serious Ladies (2013) was shown in the arts section of the festival Living Archive in Berlin and in the Werkleitz Biennale, The Model (Ireland), Experimenta (Bangalore) and Mumbai Film Festival.