The New Alphabet
Performances, Discussions, Installations, Concerts
Jan 10–13, 2019
Opening: Jan 10, 2019, 4.30 pm
Public plenum and performance
Jan 13, 2019, 1.30 pm
The program leaflet and short interviews with Julia Voss, Dirk von Lowtzow (Tocotronic), Slavs and Tatars, and others can be found here.
Are binary codes, algorithms, and DNA the alphabets of today? The current explosion of knowledge is accompanied by the segmentation of the world into the smallest units. The binary code – with only two elements the greatest abstraction of the alphabetical principle – reduces the polymorphism of the analog and makes it calculable. From 2019 until 2021, The New Alphabet will spell out both utopias and dystopias. In performances, concerts, talks, films and installations, the Opening Days from January 10 to 13, 2019 will explore moments of alphabetization from the Baroque era to the present day.
Curator and HKW director Bernd Scherer: “Against the background of extractive, digital capitalism that permanently transforms expressions of life into commodities, thus changing the knowledge society into a collecting society, we must focus on recovering the diversity of perspectives on both a social and personal level.”
Projects in synthetic biology and artificial intelligence are based on an interpretation of life as code that can be decrypted and thus manipulated. How objective are data? What social structures of power and ownership reasoning do they reproduce? What linguistic developments are accompanied by the data shape of knowledge? What is suppressed? Who dominates the new order of knowledge? And what ethical questions are raised by these “alphabetizations”? What happens between 1 and 0?
At HKW, artists, researchers and musicians will deal with these questions from January 10 to 13. The Opening Days will begin with an evening about the willfulness of human expression and the poetic power of theory. In a walk-in theater with five panels, Alexander Kluge presents conversations on the invention of writing, on DNA and on molecular coding. Is linguistic diversity possible in the age of digitization? How diversified are today’s technological developments? Emily Apter, Kate Crawford, Yuk Hui, Luc Steels, Hito Steyerl and many others will question what is untranslatable, what is suppressed or rationalized away. What does it mean to be multilingual in a digitized world? Is there one language of art, poetry, music or law? And what writing systems can still be discovered aside from discrete characters? From Sandeep Bhagwati’s two-day musical composition, from resistant acts of weaving to countering virtual dispossession, Ivonne González and the Black Guiris Collective, Diana McCarty, Olivier Marboeuf, Yucef Merhi, Éric Sadin, Odete Semedo and other participants will probe examples of subversive alphabet production in anticolonial contexts.
Throughout all of HKW during the Opening Days video installations by Kader Attia, Giulia Bruno & Armin Linke and Filipa César, films by Alexander Kluge in scenic images by Thilo Albers, cocoons by knowbotiq invite visitors to navigate the infrastructures of new alphabets.
Alongside this, the (Un-)Learning Place (January 9-13) brings together 80 international scholars and eight Berlin-based collectives in order to develop transdisciplinary, decolonial and anti-hegemonic strategies in relation to data-based knowledge systems, translations, archives, institutions and physical formations in a scenography by Raumlabor Berlin.
Following the long-term projects The Anthropocene Project (2013–2015) and 100 Years of Now (2015–2019), the project The New Alphabet (2019–2021) will close the circle of the trilogy of present-day analysis at HKW.
With Emily Apter, Kader Attia, Joana Barrios, Sandeep Bhagwati, Filipa César, Ann Cotten, Kate Crawford, Lorraine Daston, Simon Denny, Karin Harrasser, Yuk Hui, Alexander Kluge, Sybille Krämer, Armin Linke & Giulia Bruno, Yucef Merhi, Trevor Paglen, Odete Semedo, Helge Schneider, Slavs and Tatars, Felix Stalder, Hito Steyerl, Yoko Tawada, Joseph Vogl among others.
Curated by Bernd Scherer in collaboration with Olga von Schubert
Interviews and further information: firstname.lastname@example.org
Press images ready for download hkw.de/en/pressphotos
More about the project: hkw.de/en/DNA
The New Alphabet (2019–2021) is supported by the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media based on a ruling by the German Bundestag. Haus der Kulturen der Welt is supported by the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media as well as by the Federal Foreign Office.