103 The Art Happens Here: Graham Harwood
I’m Graham Harwood. I’m from an artist group called Yoha. I also teach at Goldsmiths, which is a university in London.
There’s a lot of records, historical records, are kept of people, and in this case it was the slave labor in a German munitions factory. And the information that’s kept on people kind of like when you troll through it, when you move through it, it’s kind of quite dry. And it seems like there’s kind of a lot of distance between the pain and suffering that meant that those names and places were recorded, and the present. And I was really interested in the idea, so if you’ve got this flat set of names and dates, all during the second World War, how can we think about reanimating them.
I think what’s interesting to me is the relationship between technical objects and humans. And how power is informed through these technical objects. Like how does it kind of manifest? How does recording names and dates and places, how does power flow through that as a configuration? As a kind of architecture of lists, how does that inform power and why is it that when we look at a spreadsheet, even if it’s difficult things like the holocaust, why does it appear dull to us? Why doesn’t it appear uninformed? And how does power reside behind that dullness?
So the work is about slave labor. One really important notion around the notion of slave, there’s like slave and master is a usual term within technical objects, around technology. There’s always a sort of slave cylinder or a master cylinder, these kinds of terms.
I think one of the fundamental relationships with technology is that we either imagine being enslaved by it or that the technology will be a slave. And this is a huge problem that we only have these two ways of understanding technology, but it’s because of how we privilege the notion of human within that. What are we in relationship to these technical objects, rather than how can we dominate them or how do they dominate us? It moves completely aside from that notion. Which for me is a much more hopeful thought than either being enslaved or enslaving.
Audio guide: “The Art Happens Here: Net Art’s Archival Poetics,” New Museum, New York, 2019.