Cognitive Devices | Bastiaan Arler
Esthetics are most beautiful when they are a by-product of theory
11 april - 26 may 2019
In the tradition of ancient Greek theater, the Deus Ex Machina was a plot strategy that had the function of dissolving a social or moral situation apparently without solution… But when it comes to the dilemma of data, what forms can the divinity take on?
When we selected the projects for this exhibition season – titled “Ex Machina”, we asked ourselves how our research could expand to address contemporary complexities. The Arler’s works, his devices, trace forms that do not fix an absolute inside or outside, but deeper and deeper phases of a personal cognitive modus operandi.
In this way the solution develops starting from circularity, that is the perfection that can find in the next question the meaning of the previous one.
The choice to overcome, with this personal exhibition, the visual structures based on data to investigate the possible paradigms of knowledge represents a new research in the path of Wild Mazzini.
Cognitive Devices is a collection of works about information, the production of knowledge, and the investigation thereof. The works explore cognitive processes and offer data about data, but more importantly, knowledge about knowledge. The works show the cognitive devices I have developed to investigate the problem, the process, and the product. It also offers a proposal that explores logic itself, where I attempt to define the shapes of thought and their interaction.
The Shape of Knowledge (2019)
Sculpture – Cardboard, paper, pencil, pens, string, brass.
Ø 78 x 45 cm
The key stages of the epistemological process are source, data, information, knowledge, and finally wisdom.
However, as knowledge can be passed on throughout society and over generations, it is obvious that wisdom constitutes a source of fresh data that is reiterated through the process. Humans are mostly visual thinkers, this map is an intellectual aid that can help navigate the process. The work presents itself as a suspended, consultable device with which one can explore and investigate the abstract space of knowledge and its variables.
The Shape of Thought (2019)
Drawings – Acrylic paint, paper, custom frames.
Edition of 5
50 x 50 cm
Logic processes are often portrayed as flowcharts or circuits, reminiscent of computing. Yet on an instinctive level I think that the circular nature of mulling over a subject can not be reconciled by mere ‘logic gates’ embedded in microscopic circuitry. Possibly as a built-in redundancy, human thought processes are always reiterated processes – we can think something over and over, switch angles, and pose innumerous what-ifs – where the answer is hardly as clear-cut for humans as it can be for binary systems. This raised the question, what is the shape of thought?
The Shape of the Problem (2019)
Wall drawing – Acrylic paint.
340 x 230 cm.
When dualities are laid out to form a spectrum, they form a linear expanse that can be pondered. However, to define the space that a question occupies, we must start by constructing a grid of the dualities that encompass the problem. For example, in the analysis of True Vs. False we may add a second dimension, let’s say Fact Vs. Opinion, and a third one which could be represented by Know Vs. Believe. The space that results is the question, and that question can only be answered by the phenomenon residing in that space, and along the vectors that define it. Everything outside of the area may be knowable, but not part of the question.
A Cross-Referenced Lexicon (2018)
Digital print on paper, pens.
Edition of 25
79 x 48 cm
The lexicon is a collection of the terrae incognitae I have explored over the last 15 years. As each project comes to a close, I distil the lessons learned into a concise, private definition. Together, these definitions constitute a map of my interests and convey the complexity of redefining established truths.
Batôn Fréquences (2010)
Sculpture – Wood, acrylic paint, pens
270 x 4 x 4 cm
This scepter of sorts indicates the extent of the US Radio Frequency Spectrum, which fixes the allocations for all radio communications. It therefore represents the totality of wireless communications, and as such wields tremendous power.
Dutch artist Arler is best known for works that cleverly combine a variety of media in an ongoing investigation into the dynamics that govern society and, in turn, the single individual. His inquiries employ a mix of intuition and scientific observation that bring social constructs such as time, money, and art itself into focus.
To this aim, he employs diagrams both as a method for critical thought and as an artistic medium. Where most art is concerned with human variance and the unique individual, Arler follows an alternative route driven by an innate urge to understand the constants and constraints that define the limits of the self within society.
His most recent shows include a live-drawing performance ‘A Manifesto of the Future of Music’ commissioned by Audi (2015), the installation and performance ‘Order and Chaos Within (Within Chaos and Order)’ at the Triennale in Milan, commissioned by Costume National (2014), his studies of economic cycles in ‘Timepiece for Recurrent Economic Phenomena’ for NOPX gallery in Turin and the sculpture series ‘Constructs’, built from LEGO pieces (2013).
He has also shown at the Vanabbe Museum in Eindhoven, Neon Campobase in Bologna, and at the Accademia Albertina in Torino.
Arler’s work has been taken up in Luciano Benetton’s Imago Mundi collection as well as various private collections.
He lives and works in Turin, Italy.
PHOTOS: Daniele Baldi