Future is Now: Skepticism, New Reality and Infinities
The world has undergone massive changes in various fields since the Industrial Revolution began in the 18th century. The rapid advancement of technology has become increasingly unstoppable and simultaneously devastating in the last two centuries. The acceleration of radical damage to earth’s ecosystems has likely exceeded civilization thousands of years earlier. That technological advances, instead of being an enlightment for egalitarianism, the hope of breaking down boundaries—geography, communication, the right to information, and other systems—precisely gave rise to new conflicts. It will be realized from various war events involving machines as a symbol of advancement. On the other hand, it is also interpreted as a symbol of extreme destruction. Wars and conflicts that were initially material or physical in nature (casualties, damage to state and community assets) gradually shifted to immaterial and psychological areas (culture, ideology, and mentality).
Digital technology has built a virtual world that stands between real life and imagination tends to bring forth new realities and demands for the existence of individuals and groups. In other respects, the advancement of digital technology today has realized the ideals of the Industrial Revolution which focuses on convenience, acceleration, reproduction, and infinity automation. That infinity directly opposes and even eliminates various boundaries in human life. As a result of this loss of boundaries, humans have to face many refraction choices that lead to skepticism. Predictions about the progress of civilization at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution even become predictions about the destruction of the Earth ecosystem today. The term “Future is Now” which is often mentioned by thinkers, comes across as a reflection of skepticism about the earth’s ecosystem in the future. It means that we all no longer understand and dream about the concept of the future itself. The future associated with predictions of “tomorrow”, “time ahead” or “forward” has lost its meaning. Humans no longer interpret the future as a predictive and visionary essence of time but only hand in the future to the present. Artwork is a manifestation of the meeting point between the real world and the world of ideas from the artists that may have an appropriate opportunity to maintain balance and awareness of limitations.
Art and artists in their history have always responded to the conditions of society and its ecosystem. Until this day, art and artists still try to carry out their role as reminders in every civilization change. Art has components and exponents like the Galapagos tortoise that can adapt to many changes. Art also has the ability to survive and open up to the development of new media technologies.
In response to this, photography as a visual medium is at the main point of the infinity issue. Photography is either a potential or problematic medium. That is because its existence is always guarded by technological developments advance. On the other hand, it represents the infinity of reproduction and manipulation. Therefore, photography is considered as the proper medium for contemporary art practice to respond to the issue of skepticism about the fate of the global ecosystem.
The Bandung Photography Triennale 2022 program seeks to involve artists to participate in responding to issues related to new realities, infinity, and skepticism regarding the future of the earth’s ecosystem through the photography media. As already mentioned, artists have a role in building awareness about balance and human limitations. Through the contributions of these artists, it is hoped that the works of artists in dealing with related issues can provide a time lag and space for thinking that creates a dialectic regarding the impacts of technological advances nowadays.
Asmudjo Jono Irianto
Curator of Bandung Photography Triennale 2022