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Exhibited at the Neue Galerie, Innsbruck, Austria 2011 

“The title of the exhibition The Uncanny Valley refers to those particular areas of the artist’s research. The Uncanny Valley points to a scientific phenomenon that Japanese robotics expert Masahiro Mori described as early as 1970 in his book “Energy”. Generally, it is an empirically measurable, but seemingly paradoxical effect on the viewer’s acceptance of the artificial characters offered. [2] If the animated protagonists in animation films appear too human, for example, the viewer does not feel happy. In any visualisation that is too realistic, the viewer no longer sees similarities but primarily anomalies. [2]

In the context of his individual exhibition in the Neue Galerie, Alcuin Stevenson is developing a new project that re-adopts the themes of his work Raids on the Unspeakable realised in 2009, which was presented in the context of the Große Malerei (Great Painting) exhibition at Lothringer 13 in Munich. In Raids on the Unspeakable he compared and contrasted various different thematic complexes for the first time. This type of presentation is continued in the exhibition The Uncanny Valley in the Neue Galerie. In a spatial installation that fills the entire gallery space, Alcuin Stevenson shows his research and investigations into different fields together with new artworks, and attempts to combine their individual transformation processes into closely grouped systems. The videos and drawings produced as part of this research are intended to function in different ways, independent of formal boundaries and according to changing contexts and viewers.

In order to put the huge amount of information into context more effectively and to create interlinks between the various objects more easily, in Room 2 Alcuin Stevenson presents a kind of “road map”, which consists of videos, drawings and digital prints. It is a quasi-plan that leads us through the exhibition’s different themes. The video shows the short film “The Chinese Room”, a collaborative work by Alcuin Stevenson and Elsa Triquet (Tokyo 2011). The film is set in Tokyo in the year 2050 and describes the impact of today’s sociological and economic situation: a sinking birth-rate, strict immigration laws and the weird increase in the “robot population” that has occurred in the fields of industry and service provision.

In Room 3 he presents a satellite photo of the destroyed town of Fukushima after the atomic reactor disaster.

Framed behind glass, it is possible to see drawings and graphic prints of data from the Global Consciousness Project (GCP). Using a technology developed in Princeton and random generators, data have been collected from a worldwide network since 1998. The aim is to evidence the existence of a “global consciousness”: according to the theory of GCP, events that trigger strong emotions in many people, e.g. terror attacks, create amplitudes that are measurable with the aid of special instruments. The data are transferred to a server in Princeton, where they are analysed and archived. The current measuring devices are circa 70 diodes distributed around the world – so-called eggs – that create white noise. The white noise is evaluated and is believed to reveal different qualities, depending on the state of people’s minds or emotions. It is said to be possible, for example, to determine the “state” of “global consciousness” on the basis of digitalised white noise levels. [3]

Alcuin Stevenson has made an exemplary selection of graphics including those connected with the following events: the recent unrest in Great Britain, the lowering of the USA’s credit rating, the shooting down of a helicopter in Afghanistan with those soldiers on board who shot Osama Bin Laden, the Wikileaks affair, and the Fukushima disaster.

Printed onto 1665 A4 pages that are piled on a pedestal, there is also one of the world’s most dangerous computer viruses, the Stuxnet virus.

Room 4 is devoted entirely to this Stuxnet virus. The code that fills the 1665 A4 pages is being played on a converted computer screen. In the background, we see and hear interviews with scientists talking about this intricately programmed, damaging software.

The exhibition “The Uncanny Valley” presents many different items of information and thematic fields, and each viewer is able to connect and combine them in his or her own way.

Notes: [1] http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uncanny_Valley> [2] http://www.sueddeutsche.de/digital/computeranimation-im-film-wie-zu-viel-botox-1.1085067 [3] http://noosphere.princeton.edu/ [4] http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Global_Consciousness_Project “

The Uncanny Valley (press text)
Posted by Alcuin on 2 October 2011