Consider a future device ... in which an individual stores all his books, records, and communications, and which is mechanized so that it may be consulted with exceeding speed and flexibility. It is an enlarged intimate supplement to his memory.
In the summer of 1945, the American engineer Vannevar Bush published an essay in the Boston-based journal The Atlantic. Titled “As We May Think,” the paper imagined a universal communi-cations apparatus which anticipated the advent of an information society. Over the last three-quarters of a century, what was then pondered by an insightful individual, who was able to think beyond the limits of his time, has materialized itself as a new world order in which the once dreamed-up Memex has not only taken on a much more powerful incarnation but also evolved, multiplied and accelerated into a pervasive, all-encompassing membrane of connected machines that operate on a planetary scale, giving rise to the unprecedented transformations that have forever re-defined contemporary notions of work and play, politics, economics, and culture, or life as a whole. Today with Moore’s law seeing no sign of slowing down and technological breakthroughs accelerating each passing day, along with the irrevocable encroachment of the Anthropocene, what can yet be thought of by human ingenuity and what is yet to be imagined through human fantasy demand a thinking beyond the very capacity of human herself. Future looms large with the indeli-ble force of feedforward. Invoking a cybernetics parlance of proactive control mechanism capable of pre-emptive sentience, feedforward insinuates a new type of perceptual domain, re-calibrating our sensorium: “In this new world networked computation senses, tracks, and records the present in order to predict and shape the future in large part independently from human action.” (Mark B. Hansen) What were once attributes of the biological are now given away to technologically mediat-ed senses that invariably transpose, augment and dislocate the biotically delineated sense faculties, preordaining a destiny outside of human volition, problematizing the ethical-aesthetic norms and prompting anxiety and insecurity. As existence has become a paradox of the aleatory and the limi-nal ingrained at the same time with the anticipatory and the predestined, a new reality descends in which inherited wisdom no longer suffices.
Titled As We May Think, Feedforward, extending this seminal text’s far-reaching ramifications into the artistic domain as a way to reflect on the trajectories of technological advances and their rever-berations throughout the social sphere over the past decades, the 6th edition of Guangzhou Trienni-al seeks to address the multiple implications engendered by such a technologically constructed time-space - in the real and through the virtual - by examining creative endeavors both from geo-graphical purviews and from cosmic prospects in responding to the challenges and opportunities at stake and to think, once again, through a new alliance of visions by humans and nonhumans alike, machines and flesh with equal footing, organic and inorganic hand in hand, an alternative outlook for a new possibility of ecology whereby a retooled humanism may thrive in a Parliament of Things (to borrow a term from Bruno Latour) in symbiosis and reciprocity.
The Triennial Theme Exhibition is organized in three parts each addressing a particular focus in question. Together they weave a web of interconnected entry points and exits, underlining a net-work of facticity and speculations that encapsulate the world as we know it now through imagina-tive impulse and as we may think it once again by an unfettered vision to grasp a fleeting future.