Exhibition series, Vienna/Austria:
Experienced at Least Twice (Iteration I-III)

Experienced at Least Twice (Iteration I-III)

“A sign that genuinely remained only related to itself and thus totally in the category of firstness would in itself be a contradiction. Namely, if a first relates to itself, then this is conditional on a relation and therefore necessarily a second.” (1) Each sign exists in a time continuum between a preceding and a following sign. If one thinks of such a continuum as a changeable flow, then it suggests the conclusion that no sign can relate to something that would stand as an object outside this flow—a paradoxical mind game that thinks about thinking, in a loop that starts from the beginning again as soon as it reaches the end.

The exhibition series Experienced at Least Twice revolves around the idea of an endless loop of communicative, media and social contexts. The loop concept of the unendingly perpetuable soundtrack known from music serves as a starting point to follow the reference system within which fine artists operate today. Dedicated to the subject of “space”, the first exhibition relates to the architectural, social and temporal structures of a place that is located at the intersection of music culture, fine art and social interactive space. The following exhibition focuses on the subject of “knowledge” in the sense of information competences of individuals that are summarised under the concept of “lifelong learning”, widespread in education policy, and which ultimately aim at the training of the realities of life. The third exhibition in the Experienced at Least Twice series is finally devoted to the theme of “progress”, pointing to the relations and differences between the commonality that arises from repetition.

Synchronous with the circular movements of an infinite loop, which carries its own context within it, the methods of reiteration in art today confront observers with the conditions of their own perception. Thrown back on themselves, in observing art they immerse themselves in a process that inherently contains the potential for a redrawing of the subject and its realities. The momentary standstill, the waiting and the destabilising interruption of the chain of perception that arises from repetitive patterns, however, is “not the disappointing process because it leads back to its own beginning. It is the same that I have experienced at least twice. It is objectively the same, and therefore a possibility to observe the changes in my experienced subjectivity, to gain an experience of change of the second order” (3) and finally briefly to distance oneself from the prevailing order and its instrumentalising effect. The methods of reiteration, with their serial, mechanical and standardised production processes, are similarly “used against existential commandments of originality, uniqueness and unity of the work” (2) as they position themselves against the associated commandments of genius and uniqueness of their authors.

The aim of the Experienced at Least Twice exhibition series is to raise the themes of “space”, “knowledge” and “progress” for discussion, based on their material conditions. Here the reflexive element of self-reference can assume different forms (4): it relates to haptic material that is sequenced, modulated and thereby temporally shifted in its perception; it takes up a particular repetitive procedure and applies it to the initial material until this has successively changed, or it finally refers to a system that is reflected in its completeness. What all these forms of authorial reflection share is that the process explains itself in the procedures. The focus is thus on the material, which allows itself to be interpreted as a complex system of communicative, media and societal implications. The artists question the structure of its ordering as well as the way in which their methods and repetitions applied are used as a communication tool and in what different readings they are repeatedly recombined by the observers. The moment of the finding of form, which “only [takes place] in the actual process of observation” (5) is established in substantial means such as communication, space, light, colour and time and unified in perception in a circular and interactive situation.

Contrary to formalistic methods of interpretation, however, the material is not an independent unit in a context-free space, but is the condition for the use of processual, non-material art, which can be read in the tradition of avant-garde and conceptual artistic strategies. This merging of sign and object, of content and form, finally behaves as a structure of expression that does “not speak ‘of’ things, but … at the same level as the conditions of things or the conditions of their content.” (6) In the Experienced at Least Twice exhibition series the artists surrender themselves to these conditions; these are the conditions of the materialised objects, the conditions of the questions thrown up by repetition, and ultimately it is the conditions that only emerge through the recipients’ interaction with the objects. They become involved with a mind game that fluctuates between lack of reference and self-referentiality and then immediately begins from the beginning again as soon as it has reached its end—”Well, being in the loop gets you ahead.” (7)

(1) Nöth, Winfried (2002): Selbstreferenz in systemtheoretischer und in semiotischer Sicht, in: Empirische Text- und Kulturforschung. Vol. 2, pp. 1-7, http://www.sjschmidt.net/konzepte/texte/noeth1.htm (7. Mai 2011).
(2) Buchmann, Sabeth: Wiederholung ist nicht, was sich wiederholt, in: Buchmann, Sabeth / et al. (eds) (2005): Wenn sonst nichts klappt: Wiederholung wiederholen in Kunst, Popkultur, Film, Musik, Alltag, Theorie und Praxis, materialverlag und b_books: Hamburg und Berlin, pp. 72-88 (p. 72).
(3) Diederichsen, Diedrich (2008): Eigenblutdoping. Selbstverwertung, Künstlerromantik, Partizipation, Kiepenheuer & Witsch: Cologne, p. 35.
(4) cf. Mayer, Alexander / Pick, Erich: Neuauflage, in: Buchmann, Sabeth / et al. (eds.) (2005): Wenn sonst nichts klappt: Wiederholung wiederholen in Kunst, Popkultur, Film, Musik, Alltag, Theorie und Praxis, materialverlag und b_books: Hamburg and Berlin, pp. 153-178.
(5) Huber, Hand Dieter: Die Autopoiesis der Kunsterfahrung. Erste Ansätze zu einer konstruktivistischen Ästhetik, in: Rehkämper, Klaus / Sachs-Hombach (eds.) (1998): Bild, Bildwahrnehmung, Bildverarbeitung, Deutscher Universitätsverlag: Opladen, pp. 163-171, http://www.hgb-leipzig.de/ARTNINE/huber/aufsaetze/autopoiesis.html (7 May 2011).
(6) Deleuze Gilles / Guattari, Félix (1997): Tausend Plateaus. Kapitalismus und Schizophrenie, Merve Verlag: Berlin, p. 122.
(7) Diederichsen, Diedrich (2008): Eigenblutdoping. Selbstverwertung, Künstlerromantik, Partizipation, Kiepenheuer & Witsch: Cologne, p. 37.