Hexen 2.0 at the Science Museum

2012-3-28

Suzanne Treister's exhibition at the Science Museum, Hexen 2.0, considers the evolution and development of cybernetics in a diligent an enlightening fashion.

The term 'cybernetics' here refers to networks of communications and automatic control systems in both machines, animals, and societies. It is both neurological and sociological; within the context of the exhibit, both the internet and the human mind fall within the purview of cybernetics. The notion of cybernetics is particularly relevant today as we find increasing evidence that people tend to 'off-load' work from their minds to the internet and other electronic devices. One potential example of this is the way in which GPS devices may harm our sense of direction.

However, the contemporary cybernetic situation is only one component of Hexen 2.0, as the exhibit carefully traces the weird history of cyberneticism, starting with the postwar Macy Conferences. In doing so, Treister effectively demonstrates that the pervasive networks which constitute a cornerstone of contemporary life come from some very strange places indeed.

The exhibit consists of video, manipulated photographs accompanied by short biographies, and a series of tarot cards. The tarot cards are the most effective component as they are simultaneously playful and very serious. One cannot help being impressed with the amount of research that went into their production, while the tarot format foregrounds both the esoteric nature of cyberneticis and the weird personalities that have been responsible for its development. Even RMS gets a card.

Hexen 2.0 is on at the Science Museum until the 1st of May. It has also been reviewed over at WMMNA.


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