Open codes – living in digital worlds

Open codes – living in digital worlds

The Centre for Art and Media in Karlsruhe is presenting the exhibition „Open Codes – Living in digital worlds”, which will be on show until 5 August 2018. It will display artworks and scientific work, based on analogue and digital codes.


Functions of digital codes in a globalised world

The purpose of the exhibition is to draw attention to the fact that we live in a globalised world which, today more than ever, is defined by digital codes. From Leibniz’s binary code to Morse code, from cosmic code to genetic code. Codes are the basis everywhere! Our life is defined by the artificial and man-made data world. A good example is switching on our mobile phone, whereby we are first required to enter a code, before we can use it. A further vivid, pioneering example is found in Paris, where it has long been normal and widely common to key in a number code at the door to facilitate entry to a house.

The works and scientific compositions  on display are intended to demonstrate and explain the complex dynamics of codes. It also shows that codes are increasingly influencing the manner of how we live and see the world. Digital codes define communication as far as transport, no matter whether they concern people, goods or news. Mathematics and electronics have given birth to a new world based on computer programmes which  can be designed by engineers, physicists and computer scientist or, as the possibility is given in this exhibition, also by the average user.


The characteristic of every code is its translatability

If we look to the past we find the oldest codes of our culture, for example, in our language, in the alphabet, but also in the numbering system. In communications science we assume that communication is based on the exchange of information. This information from the sender generates a certain code, which is interpreted at the receiving end. A code is therefore defined thus: it is a system for encoding (secret) linguistic messages in which the symbols of a symbol system are regularly assigned to the symbols of a different symbol system. This means that a code can be translated into a different code. This is exactly why it is possible to assign sound signals to an alphabetic code and transmit this sound in Morse code.


Exhibition with laboratory character

The world of digital codes is classified with the approximately 200 artistic and scientific works in the ZKM (Centre for Art and Media) in eight sections. These are separated into: #genealogy of the code, #encoding, #machine learning, #algorithmic governance, #algorithmic economy, #virtual reality, #work & production and #genetic code. In contrast to classical exhibitions, the horizon of meaning of the works becomes apparent first in the process of physical interaction between the observer and the work. For this reason, there are. a great many workstations where the visitor can become active and creative, while in the studio, laboratory, office and living elements alternate with each other. No matter whether it is a matter of programming, learning about bots or other technologies, independent discovery in meant to contribute to the comprehension of our digital world and what lies behind it.

In this exhibition, architectonic concept and scenography diverge widely from the usual museum character as White-Cube and produce an open source-community, in which people jointly become more competent, creative and knowledgeable.


The Centre for Art and Media

The Centre for Art and Media, in German “Zentrum für Kunst und Medien” (short form: ZKM), was founded in 1989 as museum and is today a worldwide unique culture institution. The mission of the ZKM was the perpetuation of the classical arts into the digital era. Today the ZKM unites all media sources and considers itself firstly as a house of room-based arts, such as painting, photography and sculpture  and secondly a house of time-based arts such as film, video, media art, music, dance, theatre and performance. Beyond the guiding principles of a classical museum, the ZKM has adopted the task not only of preserving artworks, but also of promoting their creation. For this reason the ZKM accommodates institutes and laboratories in which scientific research, development and production can be pursued.

The innovative learning concept of the ZKM makes it possible to open up the exciting world of digital encoding for all age groups. Entrance is free for young children and adults can visit the exhibition „Open Codes“ free of charge. The exhibition is located in the Lichthof  8+9 of the ZKM and is accompanied by a supporting programme with lectures, conferences, symposia, workshops and film screenings.

Posted on 20.11.2017

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