Michael Bielicky Perpetuum mobile
A sculpture from a black spiral with small screens, the work is called »The name« and was created by Michael Bielicky.
Sun, October 13, 2019 – Sun, March 08, 2020

Over a period of almost forty years, Bielicky has created innovative work in the areas of photography, video and net-based installations. The exhibition »Perpetuum mobile« offers the first overview of Bielicky's broad-ranging oeuvre.

Michael Bielicky's works always exist in dialogue with the latest technological developments, yet they also usher us into the depths of media history, going all the way back to the magical mathematical practices of medieval cabbalists. The idiosyncratic hybrids that emerge belong simultaneously to both the analogue and the digital world, and enact the threshold between real and virtual space. Through his innovative work that deals with technological change and its social, philosophical and political implications, the Czech-German media artist Bielicky fosters critical engagement with the nature of technology, its material and immaterial implications, and their influence on our perceptions and actions.

Bielicky studied at the Düsseldorf art academy in the 1980s, which had a pivotal impact on his critical and ironic reflections on the medial present: the formative influence of his teacher Nam June Paik, the father of video art, is unmistakeable, as are the influences of Joseph Beuys and the Fluxus movement as a whole. But his encounters and lifelong friendships with key figures in media philosophy and media art – such as Mel Alexenberg, Vilém Flusser, Norman M. Klein, Peter Sloterdijk, Woody Vasulka, Peter Weibel or Siegfried Zielinski – have also played a seminal role in his artistic work. And roots of Bielicky's striving to constantly surpass and interrogate technological conditions and their far-reaching significance for people and society can also be seen in other sources: In his childhood experiences in 1960s Prague, where an emerging avant-garde film and media culture radically expanded the tradition notion of film and sparked Bielicky's fascination with film and transposition into other mediums; in Jewish spirituality and cultural history; and in the overall significance of the Czech Republic in media history.

Bielicky has been working in collaboration with the artist Kamila B. Richter since 2005. Together they create three-dimensional works of Internet art based on a dynamic pictographic language. These works operate via the integration of real-time data from sources such as Twitter and Google News. Bielicky and Richter have coined the term »data-driven narratives« to describe them. Aesthetically playful yet uncanny, the works powerfully treat questions of the influence of an algorithm-driven information media ecology on society and the individual, as well as questions of our increasing subjection to the opaque power structures of digital space.

He has been closely connected to the ZKM since its founding: his video sculpture Menorah (1989) was the first work in the ZKM's collection, and he has taken part in numerous exhibitions. Work on his media archive at the ZKM has been underway since 2017, in close cooperation with the artist.

Wissenschaftliche Mitarbeit

Paul Kenig

Organization / Institution
ZKM | Center for Art and Media

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