GLOBALE: Infosphere. ZKM

GLOBALE: Infosphere. ZKM, Karlsruhe
05.09.2015 - 31.01.2016

Peter Weibel (Curator), Daria Mille (Co-Curator) and Giulia Bini (Co-Curator).

The »Infosphere« exhibition presents an overview of art in the era of the digital revolution and its social consequences. In addition, it provides insights into the new data world – whose existence has been finally brought home to the general public, through the NSA affair.

Today, people live in a globally interconnected world in which the biosphere and the infosphere are interfused and interdependent. The Earth is surrounded by a layer of gases which we call the atmosphere. It is the product of photosynthesis, of algae working for millions of years, converting light energy from the sun into air. Evolution’s answer to the atmosphere was the lung. Thus the atmosphere is essential for most living organisms, including people. For around 150 years now, we have been surrounded by an infosphere, as well. With this neologism the technical network is meant, consisting of telegraphy, telephony, television, radio, radar, satellites, and the Internet, which covers the globe and enables global exchange of data as well as the organization of transport for people and goods. Without the global traffic in data, goods, and passengers it would be impossible to meet the biological and social needs and aspirations of over seven billion people.

In the nineteenth century, new transport routes and paths of communication were developed through machines operating on land, sea, and in the air. In the years 1886 to 1888, Heinrich Hertz conducted experiments proving the existence of electromagnetic waves and demonstrating that light consists of these electromagnetic waves. With this discovery, the age of wireless communication began, which enabled message and messenger to be separated: Henceforth data could travel through space without the body of a messenger. In the twentieth century, this resulted in a densely interconnected communication and information network of mobile media: the infosphere – an envelope of radio waves surrounding the Earth. Using artificial, technical organs human beings can, for the first time, use electromagnetic waves for the wireless transmission of words, images, and other data – waves for which humans do not actually possess a sensorium. The social media, which have changed our daily lives, are a part of these technological networks. Thus the formula for the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, “Machinery, Material, and Men” (Frank Lloyd Wright, 1930), must be modified for the twenty-first century: “Media, Data, and Men” (Peter Weibel, 2011). Now that the alphabetic code has been supplemented by the numeric code, algorithms constitute a fundamental element of our social order – from stock exchanges to airports.

Against this backdrop, contemporary art operating in the thematic field of big data is especially significant. The artworks on show in this exhibition present answers that artists, designers, architects, and scientists have found today to the acute challenges of the infosphere.


Timo Arnall & Jack Schulze & Einar Sneve Martinussen
Amy Balkin
Aram Bartholl
Wafaa Bilal
Zach Blas
Blast Theory
Bonjour Interactive Lab
Natalie Bookchin
Dineo Seshee Bopape
David Bowen
James Bridle
Bureau d'Etudes
Emma Charles
Tyler Coburn
Sterling Crispin
The Critical Engineering Working Group
Stéphane Degoutin and Gwenola Wagon
Dennis Del Favero with Elwira Titan, Peter Weibel and Som Guan, Volker Kuchelmeister, Robert Lawther, Alex Ong
Aleksandra Domanović
Thomas Feuerstein
Fraunhofer-Institut für Optronik, Systemtechnik und Bildauswertung IOSB
Laurent Grasso
Yoon Chung Han & Byeong-Jun Han
Jonathan Harris
Mischka Henner
Femke Herregraven
Brian House
Scottie Chih-Chieh Huang
Jennifer Lyn Morone™ Inc
Matt Kenyon (SWAMP)
Erik Kessels
Jeong Han Kim, Hyun Jean Lee, Jung-Do Kim
Brian Knappenberger
Oliver Laric
Marc Lee
George Legrady
Rafael Lozano-Hemmer
!Mediengruppe Bitnik
Sommerer & Mignonneau
Jonathan Minard & James George
Achim Mohné / Uta Kopp
Warren Neidich
The Office for Creative Research
The Otolith Group
Julius Popp
Stephanie Rothenberg
Mario Santamaria
Philipp Schaerer
Shinseungback Kimyonhung
Adam Slowik
Smart Citizen Team in collaboration with IAAC | Fab Lab Barcelona, Media Interactive Design and Hangar
Karolina Sobecka, Christopher Baker
Werner Sobek
Software Studies Initiative
Fabrizio Tamburini
Timo Toots
Suzanne Treister
Unknown Fields Division
Clement Valla
Alex Verhaest
Richard Vijgen
José Luis de Vicente
Christoph Wachter & Mathias Jud
Addie Wagenknecht
Gwenola Wagon
Where Dogs Run
Krissy Wilson
Manfred Wolff-Plottegg
Matthias Wölfel / Angelo Stitz / Tim Schlippe

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