Exhibitions of Rosa Menkman and Gary Zhexi Zhang, Enter the Hyper-Scientific Program


Event details

Date 22.02.2024 17.03.2024
Hour 11:0018:00
Speaker Artists Rosa Menkman & Gary Zhexi Zhang
Category Exhibitions

Enter the Hyper-Scientific presents a joint exhibition at EPFL Pavilions, premiering new works by Rosa Menkman and Gary Zhexi Zhang, artists-in-residence in the second edition of the program. An installation and a video, developed in collaboration with EPFL's scientific community.

  • Rosa Menkman is a Dutch artist and researcher. Her work focuses on noise artifacts that result from accidents in both analogue and digital media.
  • Gary Zhexi Zhang is a British and Chinese artist and writer whose projects explore financial fictions, weird temporalities and catastrophe.
OPENING: Please join us for the opening of the exhibitions A Spectrum of Lost and Unnamed Colours by Rosa Menkman and METAMERS by Gary Zhexi Zhang, on Thursday 22 February at 6 pm in the presence of the artists.
  • Rosa Menkman, A Spectrum of Lost and Unnamed Colours, 2024
    Mixed-media installation: sigils, rainbow generator, and video
    Commissioned and produced in the framework of EPFL - CDH Artist in Residence Program 2023, Enter the Hyper-Scientific
    Partners: EPFL Center for Imaging, Edward Andò, CLIMACT Center for Climate Impact and Action UNIL & EPFL
    Credits: Rosa Menkman
    Sound: Debit
    Curator & head of program: Giulia Bini
In a not-too-distant future, a media archaeologist has tasked herself with compiling an atlas dedicated to lost or unknown ways of seeing. During this mission she finds herself captivated by a Neon Rainbow Fairy Light, an object seemingly plucked from a child's bedroom. The archeologist proclaims the fairy light to be a quintessential artifact that encapsulates the entire history of the decline of nature's original "glitch"—the atmospheric rainbow.

Proper observation of rainbows has become rare due to a double process of pollution. On the one hand, climate change, environmental degradation, and light pollution have dulled atmospheric rainbows’ brilliance, making their occurrence increasingly unusual and their sightings more precious. On the other hand, within the realms of image processing, digital pollution has corrupted and distorted the representation of rainbows even more: as generative artificial intelligence struggles to differentiate between symbolic representations—the rainbow-alike—and actual depictions of natural phenomena, images of authentic rainbows have become anomalous.

Punctuated by crafted translucent sigils and informed by practical and speculative dialogues with computer and environmental scientists at EPFL, A Spectrum of Lost and Unnamed Colours is a mesmerizing mixed-media installation that takes us on a journey while calling for a holistic categorization of various types of color loss.

With support from: Lotte Menkman, Herman Hermsen, and So Kanno

Rosa Menkman is a Dutch artist and researcher. Her work focuses on noise artifacts that result from accidents in analogue and digital media, artifacts that can offer precious insights into the otherwise obscure alchemy of standardization and resolution-setting. Menkman’s Glitch Moment/um (inc, 2011) is a little book on the exploitation and popularization of glitch artifacts that acts as a compendium to her research. A second book, Beyond Resolution (i.R.D., 2020), further develops and highlights the politics of resolution-setting; it shows how the standardization of resolutions generally promotes efficiency, order, and functionality in our technologies but has the side effect of compromising and obfuscating alternative possibilities.

In 2019 Menkman was awarded the Collide, Arts at CERN Barcelona residency, which inspired her recent research into what makes things im/possible, including im/possible images. In this new line of research, she aims to find new ways to understand, use, and perceive through interaction with technologies.

  • Gary Zhexi Zhang, METAMERS, 2024
    Video, 13 min.
    Commissioned and produced in the framework of EPFL - CDH Artist in Residence Program 2023, Enter the Hyper-Scientific
    Partners: Prof. Michael Herzog, EPFL Laboratory of Psychophysics
    Credits: Gary Zhexi Zhang, with Cameron Graham and Fergus Carmichael
    Curator & head of program: Giulia Bini
Are the stars out tonight?
I don't know if it's cloudy or bright
I only have eyes for you (dear)

How real is a hallucination? Metamers are different states of physical reality which produce the same phenomenal experience. It is generally believed that what appears as mental representation corresponds, via the sensory apparatus of the body, to the reality of an external world. Upon waking from a dream, the ancient philosopher Zhuangzi wondered: had he been Zhuangzi dreaming he was a butterfly, or a butterfly dreaming it was Zhuangzi? The founder of psychophysics, Gustav Fechner, theorized mind and body—which he extended to the inanimate world—as a curve which is convex from one view and concave from another; he sought to scientifically measure their duality. Contemporary neurological evidence demonstrates that far more of our reality is made in the mind than we may like to believe: we live in a world that dreams of us, far more than we can dream of it.

Unfolding as a psychological and acoustic descent inside anonymous subterranean architectures, METAMERS is an extended hallucination, invoking exchanges between the history of perceptual knowledge and the development of industry, war, and primordial biological memory. Time flows, but without spatial constancy; like a dream, ambiences breathe through one another across icons, portals, and rhymes. A frog watches, but we do not know what its eyes are telling its brain.

Gary Zhexi Zhang is interested in unstable knowledge. Operating individually, in collaboration and within organizational frameworks, his work explores systemic connections between cosmology, technology, and economy. He recently edited Catastrophe Time! (Strange Attractor Press, 2023), a book about time which brings together finance, science fictions, and interviews with leading climate modelers. The opera he cowrote with Waste Paper Opera, Dead Cat Bounce, premiered at Somerset House in 2022 and tours in 2024. In September 2023 he presented The Tourist, a documentary essay exploring an uneasy exchange between Afrofuturism and Sinofuturism via the life of Zanzibari revolutionary Ali Sultan Issa.

He has held teaching positions as lecturer in critical studies at Goldsmiths MFA, adjunct lecturer at Parsons School of Design, and PhD external examiner at the Royal College of Art. He cofounded design studio Foreign Objects, which received the Mozilla Creative Media Award in 2019. He has undertaken fellowships at Berggruen Institute in Los Angeles, Sakiya in Ramallah, and Rockbund Art Museum in Shanghai, where he leads on strategic initiatives. With the Serpentine R&D Platform, he cowrites the Future Art Ecosystems series on advanced technologies and the cultural sector. His writings on art, technology, and economy have appeared in Frieze, ArtReview, Verge: Studies in Global Asias, Journal of Cultural Economy, the MIT Journal of Design and Science, e-flux Architecture, among others.

Enter the Hyper-Scientific
Initiated by the EPFL College of Humanities (CDH), amplified by EPFL Pavilions, and in partnership with the City of Lausanne, the EPFL-CDH Artist-in-Residence (AiR) Program Enter the Hyper-Scientific reflects the CDH mission of fostering transdisciplinary encounters and collaborations between artists and EPFL’s scientific community. The program invites professional Swiss and international artists for three-month residencies to realize innovative and visionary projects at the intersection of art, science, and advanced technologies.