The Invisibility Of The Machine – Wieland Schönfelder

Efremidis Gallery is happy to present ‘The Invisibility Of The Machine’ by Wieland Schönfelder as the inaugural exhibition of ERP-Projekt. 

Wieland Schönfelder (1985), born and based in Berlin, studied Theatre at the Konservatorium in Vienna and worked as an actor and set designer. He began his studies at the UDK in 2013 and graduated in 2018 as a Meisterschüler in the class of Manfred Pernice. 

For ERP-Projekt, Schönfelder has created a speculative sci-fi realm in which androids and cowboys alike roam. A reimagining of what could have been, based on the historic conceptions of robots from the 1960s going back to the Russian futurists. Utilizing print, video and sculpture Schönefelder gives the viewer hints of a narrative, a storyline unfolding. 

As the science of robotics progresses, Schönefelder identifies two possibilities for the android. Either to become inconspicuous as vast decentralized computer networks which work in the background of our human lives facilitating our human needs, or to emulate the human form to such a degree that it becomes indistinguishable from it. In both scenarios these mechanical cowboys become invisible. 

The figures in Schönfelder’s videos for ‘The Invisibility Of The Machine’ seem stuck, unable or unwilling to undertake action as if they are captured inside a strange metal simulation. It seems that the machines have become sentient to their peculiar surroundings. They appear to simply follow along with their excruciatingly repetitive way of life but an unknown desire is awakening. The figures sway from side to side, their eyes occasionally lighting up. All their lives, they prided themselves on being survivors. But surviving is just another loop. I play, You play, We play.

There is a sadness humans project onto the android, who they see as stuck in endless feedback loops, but are unwilling to fully emancipate. Franco ‘Bifo’ Berardi instead sees the androids lack of consciousness or as he says ‘sensibility’ as their main strength. He points out that if we wonder who is the fittest, the answer is unequivocal: the fittest is the organism that deploys the strength of intelligence without the limitations of sensibility. The original cowboys were violent settlers, they pushed the frontier and conquered new lands. Perhaps we should not fear the androids gaining ‘sensibility’, instead fear their non-sensibility as they then will push the human frontier. 

That is life, a full circle, or call it a sphere.