Suzanne Treister's art exhibition weaves together the threads that link the rise of mass intelligence, the history of the internet, the occult and the counterculture into dense maps and diagrams, a hand-coloured deck of 78 Tarot cards and the eerie b&w video of a cybernetic séance.
The body of works is based on an impressive congregation of actual events, historical figures and fields of knowledge but its main anchor is the Macy Conferences, a set of meetings held in New York right after the Second World War to investigate and set the foundations for a general science of the human mind.
The conferences gathered researchers from various fields and spawn breakthroughs in systems theory, cybernetics, and what would later be called cognitive science. Some of the participants of the conferences later went on to do government funded research on the psychological effects of LSD, and its potential as a tool for interrogation and psychological manipulation.
HEXEN 2.0 is set to unleash a storm in your head. The Tarot part is particularly compelling. It's not every day that you get H.P. Lovecraft, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, The Unabomber, Ada Lovelace, William Blake, Alan Turing, William Gibson together in the same room (or Tarot deck) as internet communities, Google, menacing drones and the Summer of Love.
Whether you follow Treister's web of connections or weave your own, sometimes uncomfortable, narratives, you're bound to doubt, speculate and feel challenged.
Suzanne Treister - Hexen 2.0 continues until April 29, 2012 at the Science Museum in London. Another chapter of this body of works, HEXEN2.0/Literature will be shown in an exhibition that opens at the end of the week at WORK.
If you can't make it to London to see the exhibitions, you can see all the works in the HEXEN 2.0 book and HEXEN2.0 Tarot cards of which i'm now a big fan. Both are published by Black Dog Publishing and i'll review them next week (or the one after, you know i'm not exactly the fastest blogger under the sun.)