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Sentient Picnic

Solo exhibition by Mochu
28 April 2022, 14:00 - 12 June 2022, 18:00

Mochu’s solo exhibition Sentient Picnic brings together a wide range of the artist’s works, with projects exploring mad geologies, niche media tendencies, art collectives, and psychedelic trails. Central to the show is the multichannel video installation GROTESKKBASILISKK! MINERAL MIXTAPE (2022), newly commissioned by the Edith-Russ-Haus for Media Art.

GROTESKKBASILISKK! MINERAL MIXTAPE looks at online subcultures premised on rapid technological acceleration that also harbor a strong imperialist cultural nostalgia. This anomalous combination leads to a peculiar form of antiegalitarian futurism closely allied to the genre tactics of science fiction and horror, as well as the managerial protocols of big tech.

Primarily characterized by anxiety related to the imagined decline of the West and its entanglement with the rise of artificial intelligence, these subcultures engage with a distinctive techno-orientalist fantasy. Their entanglement with speculative literary genres is contiguous with the futurist urban projections of East Asia, post-Soviet Central Asia, and the Persian Gulf. Blooming as a shiny rehash of the classic Orientalist imaginary of the “Journey to the East,” these megacities, up until half a century ago, signaled a spiritual transformation of the Western subject. As an aesthetic system, the rise of internet memes epitomize this shift. Commercial capital builds a paranoid universe, relentlessly gluing together disparate extractionist tactics into a singular planetary jelly. Through a pataphysical revival of the collage aesthetic, internet memes are parasitic entities that break apart the continuous superconductivity of smooth capitalism, while feeding off the acceleration implicit in their source materials. Even at a structural level, this form of parasitism replicates the current financial-logistical cycles under which most industrial production has largely been outsourced to the Global South. However, unlike the jaded political promises of the pixelating documentary imagery of the past, the flamboyant degradations in memetic matter offer no definitive political commitment, as it is constantly dependent on its hosts’ sleek density and hideous confidence. The pervasive politics of mockery on the internet, with a kind of hieroglyphic thinking, then becomes also a mockery of politics itself, attuned to the logic of defacement wherein sacredness itself is paradoxically preserved through acts of sacrilege and defilement. Through a corruption of 3D real-estate renderings, Bollywood sounds, martial-arts games, and mythological comics, GROTESKKBASILISKK! MINERAL MIXTAPE looks at various historical instances of the strange complicity between the techno-futurist desire to eliminate politics and its duplicitous tolerance of—and perhaps even obsession with—humorous, low-resolution worlds. In the course of this history appear lost faces, defiled statues, anime chatrooms, demonic cats, and pestilential affect-objects. GROTESKKBASILISKK! MINERAL MIXTAPE will be extended into a publication by Edith-Russ-Haus in collaboration with Sternberg Press in 2023.

The exhibition also reconfigures, for the first time, Mochu’s video-lecture Toy Volcano (2019) as a multichannel installation. Set in the universe of a forgotten manga, it presents a fan-fiction involving mad geologies, portable holes, and machinic delusions. The narrative follows a tourism department official as they play host to counterfeit theories connecting outsider art, suspect materials, and the physics of cartoons.

Sentient Picnic also includes Mochu’s video Cool Memories of Remote Gods (2017), set among the remnants of hippie trails in India. The video draws from the history of 1960s counterculture groups and their use of spiritual ideas as a phenomenon contemporaneous with the development of the personal computer and cybernetics. No longer as active as they once were, these trails still bear the signs of the techno-fictional—overlaid with ancient spiritual regimens. At that time, as computers proposed that machine activity could replace the mind, counterculture considered whether religious or mystical experience could be recreated through technical means, as customizable “internal technologies.” However, this imagined “Empire of Equilibrium” has now been reduced to psychedelic posters, cheap copies of surrealist paintings, and new age fusion music. The hippie trails and their symbolism reveal a decaying corpse, yet one that has a propensity toward some kind of vampiric animation. The politics of such an animation and its resurrectionary special effects, besides being the central schematic of this video, also pave the way to revising notions of sentience, intelligence, and thought in relation to the technological imaginaries explored across the exhibition. The exhibition’s title, Sentient Picnic, while keeping in mind the absurdist wasteland of the influential 1972 Soviet sci-fi novel Roadside Picnic, also evokes this broader scenario wherein the weight and finitude of materials, artifacts, and effects are inseparably entangled with abstract thought.

Mochu, who is the 2020 recipient of the Media Art Grant from the Foundation of Lower Saxony at the Edith-Russ-Haus, makes installations, lectures, and publications. Technoscientific fictions feature prominently in his practice, informed by instances and figures drawn from art history and philosophy. The artist lives in Delhi and Istanbul.

Edith-Russ-Haus for Media Art, Katharinenstraße 23, D-26121 Oldenburg, Tel.: +49(0)441/235-3208, Fax.: +49(0)441/235-2161
Opening Hours: Tuesday - Friday 14:00 -18:00, Saturday - Sunday 11:00 - 18:00, Monday closed
Ein Ausstellungshaus der
Stadt Oldenburg