The canvas has long been used by artists and visionaries as a blank page where new ideas, theories and worlds can be shown to the public free from the constraints and laws of empiricism within the safety of artistic license. Science on the other hand, tends to rely on more empirical evidence, on formulas and diagrams and strange symbols. But these lines of strange symbols, while filled with mind boggling statistics that exist far outside the understanding of my wordy brain, are still essentially drawn.
Yet despite this similarity of putting pen to paper to convey meaning, science and art do not often enjoy the most comfortable of unions. However, in the current exhibition at the Science Museum, British artist Suzanne Treister presents a series of works that proves this reductive theory wrong, merging the world of physical and social science in her multimedia exhibition, Hexen 2.0.
Inspired by post-World War II governmental and military imperatives, the works explore the ways in which technology has entered into our everyday lives and continues to manipulate society – much in the way I imagine governmental imperatives were intended! Covering the development of cybernetics, the history of the internet and the ever increasing rise of Web 2.0 for mass intelligence gathering, Hexen 2.0 plays with at some pretty heady topics – it is at the Science Museum after all.
But the work itself is beautiful including intricate sketches in psychedelic colours and design, almost reminiscent of ’70s band posters or graphic novels, making even the most profound topics accessible to all.
Creating an accessible route to scientific knowledge is one of Treisters main aims for Hexen 2.0. Using various media and systems to divine meaning and create knowledge, Hexen 2.0 boasts alchemical diagrams, a Tarot deck, photo-text works, video works and even a séance. Treister attempts to offer a critical overview of the attempts of science and the great thinkers of the day to ‘outline a general science of the workings of the human mind’, reflecting on modern and scientific history.
Hexen 2.0 is a fascinating example of well researched and thought out applications of science into art, to borrow Treister’s words, to ‘use the works as a tool to envision possible alternative futures’ – just as art has already done for centuries.
Hexen 2.0 by Suzanne Treister is on display until May 1 at:
The Science Museum
Entrance is free.