Anna Ridler, renowned for her unique juxtaposition of the speculative nature of cryptocurrencies and historical economic phenomena, presents her solo exhibition at Crypto Kiosk (Nagel Draxler) in Berlin.
Anna Ridler's latest project, "Time Within Time," unveils a mesmerizing exploration of the intricate interplay between the natural world's rhythms, digital representations, and the ever-evolving dynamics of blockchain technology. Born in 1985, Ridler, an artist and researcher, delves deep into the heart of systems of knowledge and the genesis of technology to decipher the enigmatic world around us. At the core of her inquiry lies a fascination with the notions of measurement and quantification and their profound connection to the natural order. Her creative process unfailingly involves the curation of vast troves of data, particularly datasets, from which she weaves compelling and unconventional narratives.
Ridler's oeuvre has an ineffable quality, a certain stillness that envelops the observer. In the face of her multifaceted projects, this silence seems incongruous, yet it is this very quietude that unlocks the true essence of her work. To grasp its full depth, one must be willing to enter a state of contemplation, to engage with time, and be enveloped by it. Her art, often encapsulated in the form of blossoms, serves as a gateway into realms of temporality, technological constructs, market forces, and societal structures. Yet, amidst this complex intellectual tapestry, her blooms maintain a serene simplicity, untethered by the weight of overanalysis. In her art, one might discern a tulip, perhaps.
"Black Tulip" (2023), a continuation of the dataset previously crafted for "Bloemenveling" (2019), charts a nuanced course that subverts the speculative fervor entangled in the 17th-century Tulipomania and its 21st-century high-frequency trading counterpart. This new creation tempers the exuberance of technology and finance, counteracting the unchecked growth articulated in Moore's Law, which has contributed to the proliferation of obsolescence and electronic waste afflicting our planet. Ridler invokes Dumas' emblematic symbol of passion over avarice, reminding us that the resources of the Earth need not be squandered for mere enterprise and extravagance but rather should support a more intimate and planetarily benevolent ethos. The rampant exploitation of minerals, ores, flora, fauna, and human labor for technological products is patently unsustainable, and another paradigm must emerge.
Drawing inspiration from the 18th-century botanical musings of Carl Linnaeus, Ridler resurrects the concept of a floral clock in "Circadian Bloom." In this fascinating project, she presents the chronobiological rhythms of plants as a counterpoint to the relentless compression of global digital time. Ridler's digital blooms, governed by complex algorithms tethered to cesium atomic clocks, synchronize with their geographical coordinates, climate, seasons, and sunlight, echoing the timeless dance of nature and humanity's perpetual quest for temporal mastery.
In "Circadian Nocturne" (2023), Ridler extends her exploration with an array of night-blooms, each illuminated exclusively from sunset to sunrise through a Raspberry Pi single-board computer. In an era dominated by the ceaseless demands of the 24/7 attention economy, perpetual access blurs the lines of sensitivity and value that stem from contingent engagement. Within constraints, narratives are forged, desires sought, and meaningful experiences crafted. The erosion of sequential time robs us of the prospect of duration, relegating existence to fragmented instants, a disintegrated modality that accelerates, supplanting the multifarious temporal rhythms of our existence. In an age inundated by the glow of blue light technologies, we stumble in the dark. Recognizing this, Ridler's "Circadian Nocturne" offers an alternative path—one that doesn't idealize digital or analog but encourages a more relational approach. The flower flutters, and we, in turn, adapt.
Amid the awe-inspiring advances of technology, one may wonder: What does a computer truly perceive when it encounters an image of a flower? "Synthetic Iris Dataset" lays bare the colors derived from the 150 generated flowers, alongside an inventory of the myriad interpretations offered by a computer vision API. Adapted from the dataset pioneered by eugenicist Ronald Fisher in the 1930s, Ridler challenges its uncritical acceptance in the realm of introductory machine learning. Her annotations reveal the intricate interplay between technological and cultural codes, underscored by the playful ambiguity of language. In English, "iris" denotes both the flower and the colored center of the eye, while "violet" straddles the realms of pigment and flora. Nothing, it seems, is as straightforward as it appears.
Through Ridler's artistry, audiences are beckoned to become discerning navigators of these landscapes, to decode the temporal tapestries each conceals. Flowers may appear antithetical to machine learning algorithms, mechanical timepieces, or indelible imprints, yet they possess a historical connection to technology and datasets, exhibit distinct temporal cadences, and linger in the annals of memory. Tempo, temporality, timeframes—Anna Ridler's aesthetics unfurl the chronicles of time with an unwavering and ineffable beauty.