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selected projects | Sound System - System Sound v_the Demons




Sound System - System Sound v_ the Demons

Magazin 4 , Bregenz, 16 channel sound architecturer

With contributions by Clegg & Guttmann, Thomas Feuerstein, Chris Martinek, Chantal Michel, Philipp Quehenberger, Marcus Steinweg, Peter Szely, Rens Veltman
Curator: Thomas Feuerstein






They are everywhere. They operate in the background. They inform our thoughts. They are embedded in all artifacts. They operate in computer systems. They are the routine and automatism of everyday life. They animate the fetishes of our culture and determine life. Demons are amongst us speaking to us as things, processes and systems. In Greek literature and philosophy, demons allocate human destiny. They act as distributors and allocators of vital energy, resources and information, they cause order and chaos, make happy (eu-daimon) and unhappy (kako-daimon). Until today, demons pervade Western philosophy, haunt art history with its cult of genius and have materialize in physics and computer science in the 19th and 20th century.


Demons don’t rumble as an alien, dark power anymore, they don’t function as models for everything irrational und inexplicable but operate as technical assistants, control machines or actualize themselves through organizational questions regarding communities, economies and nation states—just as their etymological relationship to democracy suggests. Demons are operation routines, structures, rules, laws, programs and algorithms. Upon closer examination, the separation of the world in subjects and objects, in systems and environments turns out to be a demonic disorder. The question who acts, speaks or commands is loosing its discursive purity and its capacity to divide the world dualistically. The relations between subjects and objects are mixing and smudging as they are reporting on mutual possessions. All along, instructions have been spawning objects. Conversely, items—from brush to canvas, from brick to factory—have been inscribed with actions and schemas of thinking, which have unfolded their own technical, mental and social momentum.


Artifacts become actants that merge with the autonomy of language, thinking and acting. The exhibition The Demons presents artistic positions that render demons a medium of art and conceive of them as distributors and allocators of material, informational and social resources, as donors of order and entropy. Although artistic recipes and design rules that regulate the layout, production and reception of works are to be found in each era, such algorithms have come to the fore against the material work only since the 20th century and have been discovered by artists as an independent medium. Who or what speaks or acts in an artwork—the artist, the style, the will to form, the society, the material, the color, the observer, the market, etc.—this question cannot be resolved with reference to a specific author. The artwork presents itself as a collaborative act, effectively enacted by its network as a distributor and allocator of concerns and interests, as a stabilizer or troublemaker of redundancy or innovation. In general, works an objects are places of congregation where singularities intertwine with the mesocosmos.


The subject-object or human-machine relation takes place in the merging of the human and the material as action. It is right here where the demons congregate. They do not burst into everyday life from a shadow world but condition everyday life and render it the condition of our lives. By discussing demons and objects we therefore challenge the anthropocentric comprehension of acting rather than evoking a renaissance of animism. This altered conception of the object—which intrudes into the as yet separated categories of thinking, speaking and seemingly autonomous acting and which we will encounter increasingly in the near future by way of innovative technologies, complex political relations or artistic practices—is the subject and medium of the exhibition The Demons. (Thomas Feuerstein)