“Nowadays citizens are not transforming the world around them through the use of their bodies. The primary way we transform the environment and the world around us in the twenty-first century is through prostheses, machines, automation, and computers.”
DISNOVATION.ORG is a working group based in Paris, initiated by Nicolas Maigret and Maria Roszkowska. At the crossroads between contemporary art, research and hacking, the collective develops situations of disturbance, speculation, and debate, challenging the dominant ideology of technological innovation and stimulating the emergence of alternative narratives. Their current exhibition, realized together with Baruch Gottlieb, Clémence Seurat, Julien Maudet, and Pauline Briand at Brussel’s iMAL Art Center for Digital Cultures and Technology, critically examines growth and progress through a series of artworks and filmed interviews with experts in the field.
Q: Can you give an example?
A: One example is a series of ‘energy slave’ tokens that are included in the show. The work is based on the concept of the energy slave, which was proposed by the American futurist Buckminster Fuller in the 1940s as a notion used to express the energy required to power a modern lifestyle. The concept refers to the technological or mechanical energy equivalent to the physical working capacity of a human adult. In 2020 we have an average of 400-500 energy slaves per living European, which means the lifestyle that we have is the result of about 400-500 times the energy that a single human body can produce. To grasp those orders of magnitude, we started to build bitumen bricks or units of measure that are basically embodying the energy equivalent in fossil fuel of various durations of human labour. We thought that this direction of work was quite eloquent as fossil fuel is the core driver of the global techno-infrastructure. Nowadays citizens are not transforming the world around them through the use of their own bodies. The primary way we transform the environment and the world around us in the twenty-first century is through prostheses, machines, automation, and computers. We recognized that in order to better understand our condition, and what a desirable outcome could look like, it was essential to understand this very material-informed model of how we interact with the world today.