Przemysław Jasielski is a visual artist working on the intersection of engineering, art, and science. Many of his projects oscillate around the contemporary art and science paradigm, which treats art as an experimental scientific practice, while science – as a contemporary art theory. He works with a range of technologies – from simple methods of using paper to construct architectural structures to complex artificial life-management systems.
A visual artist working on the intersection of engineering, art, and science.
He was born in 1970. Between 1989 and 1994, Jasielski studied at the State Higher School of Visual Arts (now the University of Fine Arts) in Poznań, from which he graduated with diplomas in sculpture (from the workshop of Professor Jan Berdyszak) and in drawing (Professor Jarosław Kozłowski's workshop). Since 1990s, he has been creating installations, objects, drawings, and auteur machines with unusual and surprising functions. His works have been featured, among others, in Canada, the United States, Great Britain, Korea, Japan, and the Czech Republic.
All of Jasielski's works are in a dialogue with contemporary definitions of technology and science, and their mutual relationship in the post-technological culture. His practice could be examined not just within the framework of a critical practice, but also as an attempt to create prototypes for artificial life and forms of artificial intelligence in the context of biomimetics and post-humanism.
One of his most recognised series is Control Units – machines designed to manage selected parameters of reality. The inaugural one, Earth Rotation Speed Control Unit from 2003, provides viewers with the potential ability to interfere with the Earth's speed of rotation. The use of the object allows one to decelerate the rotation of the planet by a split second or to extend a day by the same amount of time. A physical theory describing the phenomenon of reducing the Earth's rotation speed through the civilisational activity of humans on the planet is an integral element of the piece.
Earthquake Control Unit from 2004 is a machine that can generate low-level seismic activity. After it is launched, a recording of a very low frequency seismic wave is played, causing the surrounding objects to vibrate. The piece was realised in one of the most seismically active areas on Earth – in San Jose in California.
Yet another machine, Global Warming Control Unit from 2010 is an interactive device for diminishing the negative effects of global warming. Basing his work on scientific research, Jasielski created a hypothetical apparatus that enabled a regulation of the natural state of global atmosphere.
In 2015, the artist created another work from the series – Emotions Control Unit. First displayed at the Frieze Art Fair in New York, the object possesses features of both an automatic and behavioural intelligence. The machine reacts to the presence of people in its surrounding and displays parameters describing its own emotional state. The viewers are partly able to affect the object's state by manipulating it, however, some of the reactions are self-generated, in a reference to scientific discourse relating to the autonomy and emancipation of artificial life.
One could also try to organise some of Jasielski's other works, such as Sounds Of My Room – Plantation, Opportunity, and Leviathan, into a coherent series, bound by a reference to scientific concepts of artificial life, environmental intelligence, and post-humanist cognitive strategies.
In 2004, the artist designed the installation Sounds Of My Room – Plantation, a kind of ‘incubator’ which allows the regulation of environmental conditions to sustain the life of plants in artificial conditions. While the robot in the work Opportunity, whose title makes a direct reference to the NASA mission to Mars which investigated the planet's geological make-up, gained cognitive autonomy by generating a picture-based panorama of the interior of the Warsaw-based Skolska28 gallery without any assistance. The exhibition's visitors had the opportunity to juxtapose their perception with the vision produced by an autonomously perceiving and documenting robot. Yet another object by Jasielski – Leviathan – which premiered in Poland at the exhibition Transnature Is Here, was a certain critique of the concept of carbon chauvinism – a theory according to which life can only emerge within organic chemistry. Leviathan reacts to the presence of spectators and emits sounds of very different frequencies. The alternating oscillations not only fill the space around the object, but also make it tremble and vibrate, thus modifying the viewers' tactile perception.
Jasielski's installations in which he examines a laboratory position of isolation, are equally interesting. In White Noise from 2011, we are faced with a phone booth, whose tight space, upon one's entrance, fills up with ambient recordings of a technology-infused city, completely separating the viewer from the external world.
Analog Immigration, presented in 2013 in the United States, sends us back to the pre-digital era and the world of analogue experience. Upon entering the installation, the spectators are asked to hand in their phones and electronic devices, while a brass cage surrounding the installation's structure filters all electrical signals, shutting out any radio, cell, or internet connection. In this way, the viewers are cut off from the contemporary fabric of technoculture and motivated to interact with their own pre-technological experience of the world.
Michał Krawczak, October 2015, transl. AM, January 2016