June 23–Sept 02, 2007
Wolfgang von Kempelen.
ZKM | Media Museum
Exhibition: June 23–Sept 02, 2007
Opening: June 22, 2007, 7pm
→ Information auf Deutsch
Unfortunately, the chess tournanement scheduled for July 22nd will not take place. We apologize for any inconvenience.
Throughout time, the animated image and the autonomously moving, intelligent
machine have been both a source of magnetism and a vision of horror. For over
two hundred years, no machine has triggered as much amazement and doubt, both
in the circles of amateurs as well as scientists, as the chess-playing automaton
built by Wolfgang von Kempelen (1734–1804). The Schachautomat, an amazing
work with great significance in technical history as well as an incubator of
utopian ideas, with which Kempelen duped the royal house of Karlsruhe in 1785,
was also a slap in the face and a parody. The secret of the machine that supposedly
possessed artificial intelligence was later discovered to be a human hidden
within it. An entire era’s belief in progress was put to the test.
Taking the chess automaton as its point of departure, the joint exhibition
by Budapest’s C³ foundation and ZKM | Karlsruhe, expands the image of
Kempelen, the scientist, engineer, artist, actor, state official, and private
person, by exploring the mechanical inventions of his epoch.
The exhibition at ZKM focuses on current artistic productions dealing with
the metaphor laid out by Kempelen’s machine. The theme of the human machine
can be found in the works of numerous contemporary artists. From the mechanical
automaton to robots and modern computers, the exhibition shows the variants
of the chess automaton from the eighteenth century to the present day. In their
works, the twenty participating artists probe the theoretical implications
and continued effects of Kempelen’s automaton in a contemporary context.
In this way, they offer a contribution to the understanding of our world and
the questions relevant to us.
One of the most important points here is certainly whether the presentation
of an intelligent machine is not a contradiction in itself. The ideas of "artificial
intelligence" that replace the human with the machine set this questioning
process in motion. If there is in fact a human in every machine, as with Kempelen’s
chess automaton, then humans can also be destroyed by the superiority of the
machinery that they have set in motion.
Ralf Baecker, Zoe Beloff, Kim Deitch, Harun Farocki, Ken Feingold, Péter Forgács, György Jovánovics, Herbert Kitzel, Gergely Kovács / Bence Samu, Gergely László / Péter Rákosi, M+M, János Major, Daria Martin, John Miller / Frank Lutz, David Moises / Severin Hofmann, Gyula Pauer, Wolf Pehlke, Simon Penny, Martin Riches, robotlab, Alexei Shulgin, Zoltán Szegedy-Maszák mit Róbert Langh, Márton Fernezelyi und Richard Aczel, Katrin von Maltzahn, Tamás Waliczky, Georg Winter / Michael Markert
Curated by József Mélyi, Bernhard Serexhe, and Rita Kálmán
Curatorial assistant: Barbara Kirschner
Guided tours: Sun 1 pm
Further locations and dates of the exhibition:
Mücsarnok / Kunsthalle,
Budapest, March 24– May 28, 2007
This project is part of the collaboration Bipolar
deutsch-ungarische Kulturprojekte und Ungarischer
German-Hungarian cultural projects and Hungarian accent). »Bipolar« is
an initiative of the German
Federal Cultural Foundation (Kulturstiftung des Bundes).
 Der Schachautomaten von Wolfgang von Kempelen
Rekonstruktion von John Gaughan, 1989
Foto: John Gaughan
Credits: John Gaughan
 Ken Feingold
»Box of Men«, 2007
Foto: Ken Feingold
Credits: Ken Feingold
 Severin Hofmann, David Moises
»Turing Train Terminal«, 2004
Foto: Severin Hofmann
Credits: Severin Hofmann, David Moises