Kunstverein Hamburg

Quantification Trilogy

Jeremy Shaw

26 May - 22 Jul 2018

Film Society of Lincoln Center
Quantification Trilogy
Jeremy Shaw
26 May - 22 July 2018

Jeremy Shaw works in a variety of media to explore altered states and the cultural and scientific practices that aspire to map transcendental experience. Often combining and amplifying strategies of vérité filmmaking, conceptual art, music video, esoteric and scientific research, Shaw’s works create a post-documentary space in which disparate belief-systems and histories are thrown into an interpretive limbo.
At the center of Shaw’s first major solo show in Germany are three para-fictional short films: Quickeners (2014), Liminals (2017) and I Can See Forever (2018), the latter of which is making its premiere in Hamburg. This trilogy of thematically entangled works presents marginalized societies of the future and their engagement in transcendental activities as potential tools towards evolution.

Set 500 years in the future, Quickeners tells the story of “Human Atavism Syndrome”, an obscure disorder afflicting a tiny portion of the Quantum Human population to desire and feel as their Human Being predecessors once did. A species wirelessly interconnected to The Hive, Quantum Humans have evolved to operate solely on pure rational thought and they have achieved immortality. Quickeners reworksarchival documentary footage from a gathering of Pentecostal Christian snake handlers to illustrate the story. As it unfolds, an authoritative Quantum Human narrator comments on what we witness: indecipherable testimonials, sermons, songs, prayers, convulsive dancing, speaking-in-tongues, serpent handling, and ecstatic states that Quantum Humans define as “Quickening”.

Liminals depicts a marginalized future society attempting to save humanity from extinction through abandoned transcendental activities. Employing a 1970s cinema vérité aesthetic yet set three generations from now, Liminals follows eight subjects as they engage in varying cathartic ritualistic behaviors, from whirling and kundalini meditation to modern dance and head-banging. It is their belief that doing this in tandem with Machine DNA, brain augmentations will incite access to “The Liminal” – a speculative paraspace between the physical and the virtual where humankind can temporarily exist in gestation towards a new phase of evolution.

Set approximately 40 years from today, I Can See Forver is presented as an episode of a television documentary series about “The Singularity Project”; a failed government experiment that aimed to create a harmonious synthesis of human and machine. This specific episode is a verité account of the only known survivor, 27 year-old Roderick Dale. Born with an 8.7% Machine DNA biology, yet uninterested in the virtual reality-trappings of his time, Dale has committed himself to a life immersed in dance. It is during his unique virtuosic activities that he claims to be able to “See Forever” – a multi-layered and contentious term that he defines as the ability to transcend to a digital plane of total unity while maintaining a corporeal physical presence.

The central film trilogy is complemented by Shaw’s series Towards Universal Pattern Recognition. These works present found archival photos of people in various states of religious, mystical or technological rapture under custom-machined prismatic acrylic. The resulting kaleidoscopic repetition and distortion of the image explicitly illustrates that the subject is experiencing a phenomenon that is skewing their perception of reality. In applying an optical device most commonly associated with filmic representations of psychedelic experience to documentary recordings of altered states, the works ask one to consider a universality to all transcendental experience: spiritual, hedonistic, technological, and otherwise.

Jeremy Shaw was born in 1977 in North Vancouver and lives and works in Berlin. In 2016, he won the Sobey Art Award and participated in the 57th Venice Biennale in 2017. Shaw has had solo exhibitions at MoMA PS1, New York, Schinkel Pavillon, Berlin, and MOCCA, Toronto, and been featured in many international group shows including Kunsthalle Wien, Vienna, Haus der Kunst, Munich, and Palais de Tokyo, Paris. He is currently on residency at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles.

Quantification Trilogy is produced in cooperation with the Esker Foundation in Calgary, Canada. An extensive publication will be released in conjunction with the show.

Tags: Jeremy Shaw