Aids 3D

Michael Ladner talks to AIDS 3D 

How did you meet?
I (Daniel) was born very close to the Summer equinox and he (Nik) was born very close to the Winter equinox. This professor was like, you should collaborate. This was before we had anything in common. We had opposite strategies for getting problems solved. it was really eerie.

Do you believe in fate, considering your birthdays fall on opposite equinoxes?

We believe in The Secret and self-actualization. The Secret posits, that if you believe something, it will come true. You visualize what you want to have happen and it becomes reality. For example, we were like, we have to get a show at the New Museum, and one day we were talking about it a bunch and then this email came and said we were in.

What do you think is more important for technological advancement, space exploration or deep sea exploration?

Space travel! But we don‘t think thats the right axis, its should be either inner-space or outer-space. Before we can even explore space we have to achieve ultimate computing, which means reaching the smallest possible matter, like nano-technology. Once that happens, it will sort of turn everything in the world into a computer. And then once you run out of space by doing that, there’s a necessity to go to other planets.

How does the planet become one big computer?

It starts by the internet becoming self-aware. Then we have to give up our bodies. and then everything gets smaller and smaller and denser and denser. And then you have the computronium.

Thats the term for the ultimate computing substrate at the densest physical level. Zero time to send a bit. It‘s similar to Platonic idea of god. Its kinda inconceivable.

Whats the ideology of AIDS-3D?
That technological advancement is supremely important. Its a sacrifice for individuals; its kinda fascist. It’s like there is one goal and the goal is to create artificial life. Its actually not that fascist, but it isn’t socialist. It’s technocratic.

Is that the goal of your art, to publicize the positive aspects of technological development?

Not so dogmatically. I think we just want it to be discussed a little more neutrally than it is in The Terminator.

How would you use AI?
It‘s a good art tool.

What kind of technological developments do you think will influence fashion?

Wearable video screens. Increasing trends for smart everything: a flower vase will have to have a duel function as a computer. I think with clothes it will also have duel functions, like recycling electricity. Also integrating machines. Like sunglasses that have a heads up display. A laptop thats right on your skin. Do implants count as fashion?
How are you constrained by money?
We wanted to make some anamatronic stuff, like a Grace Jones robotic head. But that was gonna cost 50K.

Can you talk a bit about why you moved to Berlin?

We were doing this laser scanning job in Chicago. Which is really cool. It creates 3D models of building interiors. You can calculate to the nano-inch how much paint you neet etc. So anyway we were doing that and thought we were gonna go on a laser scanning journey. But it fell through. We were like fuck that, and we had already applied to an exchange programs in Europe, so we decided to do that.

We were deciding between London and Berlin. We decided Berlin cause we like Germans; we like their reputation.

Can you clarify that?
I don’t know, they’re just so intense. They‘ve gotten so many things done for good and evil.

How did you end up at Städl?

Some friend of ours recommended it and we were like, we need to stay in Germany. We heard the reputation and then Mark Leckey actually chose us. So that was a nice feeling cause hes a cool artist. He just won the Turner Prize. But we didnt really spend that much time together.

Art has expanded extensively into the internet. What kind of possibilities will the internet provide for fashion?

Selling shit, distribution. For us thats the best thing the internet has done to art. Yes it’s a new venue, but the best thing about it is that its a linked network that allows you to connect. That created a presence for us that was not at all related to our success. All the sudden we had a destination and people were going there. You can externalize your ego and make it into this beacon. So designers could do the same.

Would you like to work with designers making clothing?

Sure, yeah. We’d like to do that. I mean technology, and the tools of design are so smooth now and so easy that you dont need to become a master of something to express yourself. In basically every medium, you just collaborate with someone who has a little bit of expertise and you delegate and then all of the sudden: poof! It appears. We think it’s a responsibility that artists have these days because it’s so easy to collaborate. Artists should work in as many media as possible and spread their ideas.

Can you tell me about your current work?

We have an idea for a public sculpture. There’s this thing called distributed computing. It’s a screen saver where you download information from a big server and it networks a bunch of computers around the world together into this super computer. So SETI uses this to process radio telescope data to look for alien life. Other programs do simulations for AIDS drugs. We want to make a public monument sort of like Stonehenge. Megalithic servers which are actively solving these problems. AIDS is one example; it could be cancer or Parkinsons. All the topics that distributed computing works on are termed „grand challenge computing.“ Like really big social problems that we need to solve.

Utilitarian art?

I think that’s a trend that we’re exploring in our work: an earnestness. The compromise that computers still take up physical space, art maybe doesn’t. But then, if you combine the two, there‘s a compromise: a sculpture that is a computer.

But you were talking earlier about the fascist nature of technological advancement, how do you reconcile this with the trend of social awareness in your art?

Well it‘s just socially positive. Does the sculpture do anything? Yes. You can calculate the amount of megabytes of good that it has done. You can have a website where you see how much data this sculpture has calculated. It quantifies a positive thing. We could make art about our personal experiences but there are also these greater issues like starvation, war. Most art is really impotent. This may sound heavy handed, but this art is actually socially positive.

Tell me about your upcoming exhibition at Montgomery.
Its our first solo show in Berlin. There’s this piece that we made, where we ordered a meteorite with a specific weight from a website called catchafallingstar.com. The meteorite weighs exactly 50.907 Grams on the digital scale. When you reverse the scale it spells out the word logos. The word logos means to derive things, but it can also mean the divine organizing force. The organizing force known as logos, is a paradoxical side effect of entropy, but not its opposite. While energy is spent, matter is simultaneously organized into more efficient and dense forms. Sort of like a spiritual DNA. So its a lot about looking to space for these cosmic meanings and looking for symbols that aren’t really there. Like, all of the sudden a meteorite falls from the sky and because we don‘t have total understanding of what it means we take it as an omen. But it’s basically the same thing as a calculator that spells out boobies when you turn it upside-down. It’s the same effect but with a smart word.   ◊

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