ralf baecker - Rechnender Raum

Rechnender Raum

Autonomous System - 2007
Video Documentation, Kasseler Kunstverein, 2016

Let us pretend that there was a machine, which was constructed in such a way as to give rise to thinking, sensing, and having perceptions. You could imagine it expanded in size (while retaining the same proportions) so that you could go inside it, like going into a mill. On this assumption, your tour inside it would show you the working parts pushing each other, but never anything which would explain a perception. So, perception is to be sought, not in compounds (or machines), but in simple substances. Furthermore, there is nothing to be found in simple substances, apart from perceptions and their changes. — G.W. Leibniz

The inverted machine Rechnender Raum [Computing Space] is a lightweight sculpture, constructed from sticks, strings, and little plumbs. At the same time, it is a fully functional, logically precise, artificial neural network.1 Through its strict geometric and otherwise highly filigreed construction, the observer can track the entire logic circuit from every viewpoint around the machine. This exposure of the machine’s core is reinforced by the uncommon distribution of its constructive elements, with a nine-angled architectural body forming a torus. In contrast to the ordinary arrangement of hidden logic circuits and external, user-facing display, its geometric basis is turned inside-out. The core of the machine, with all its computing elements, is shifted outward, onto the surface, while the “display”, which indicates the results of the tasks, is moved into the center of the system. Even though the tasks and their logic circuits run directly in front of the viewer’s eyes, and even after a long time of contemplating the interaction of the elements that is accompanied by a polyphonic, yet steady and reassuring buzz, it is not possible to grasp the sequence of the machine’s individual conditions. Turning the machine inside out makes its functioning completely transparent, but at the same time it manifests the strict self-referentiality of the machine and its ignorance towards the viewer. The machine turns away from the visitor and carries out its computations only for itself. Without depending on interaction or requesting it, it goes through its own states endlessly. The results of the computations are sent inward—into its own center—they are not intended for the viewer. Hence, an interesting paradox appears: while the machine opens up everything, it closes it at the same time, as though it had a secret. (Georg Trogemann)

Rechnender Raum - Moltkerei Werkstatt Cologne, 2007
Rechnender Raum - Kasseler Kunstverein, 2016
Rechnender Raum - Moltkerei Werkstatt Cologne, 2007
Rechnender Raum - Moltkerei Werkstatt Cologne, 2007
Rechnender Raum - Moltkerei Werkstatt Cologne, 2007
Rechnender Raum - Moltkerei Werkstatt Cologne, 2007
Rechnender Raum - Moltkerei Werkstatt Cologne, 2007
Rechnender Raum - Moltkerei Werkstatt Cologne, 2007
Rechnender Raum - Electrohype Malmoe, 2008
Rechnender Raum - Detail, 2008
Rechnender Raum Installation views, 2007-2016
 - ,
Rechnender Raum at Trinitatis Kirche Cologne, 2007
 - ,
Schematics, 2007
[1] Rechnender Raum’s neurons work similarly to a basic artificial neural network. Based on the principle of a McCulloch-Pitts neuron with static weights (threshold), it implements the essential Boolean functions NOT/AND/OR. In total the mechanism consists of over 200 Boolean units that form a parallel operating cellular automaton.

Beech wood slats, strings (Dyneema), elastic bands, lead weights, servo motors, custom electronics

Produced with the support of the Academy of Media Arts Cologne


2022 Weltmaschine / World Machine - Art and Science - An artistic homage to Johannes Kepler
OÖ Kulturquartier, Linz AT

2019 Just What Is It That Makes Today’s Computers So Uncanny, So Nonsensical?
Chronus Art Center, Shanghai CN

2018 DIA-LOGOS. Ramon Llull und die Kunst des Kombinierens
Zentrum für Kunst und Medien (ZKM), Karlsruhe DE

2018 Thinking Machines. Ramon Llull and the ars combinatoria
EPFL ArtLab, Lausanne CH

2016 The Thinking Machine - Ramon Llull and the Ars combinatoria
Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona (CCCB), Barcelona ES

2016 The Paradox of Knowing Universals
Kasseler Kunstverein, Kassel DE

2013 Rauchwolken und Luftschlösser
Gesellschaft für aktuelle Kunst, Bremen DE

2013 In Search for Precise Pleasures
LEAP, Berlin DE

2011 Life - Science version
Center for Contemporary Art WINZAVOD, Moscow RU

2010 The Poetics of Space - Sonic Acts XIII
Netherlands Media Art Institute, Amsterdam NL

2010 Space Inventions. Der künstliche Raum
Künstlerhaus, Wien AT

2010 WeltWissen. 300 Jahre Wissenschaften in Berlin
Martin-Gropius-Bau, Berlin DE

2009 Share Festival - Experiences in digital art & culture
Share Festival, Turin IT

2009 Rechnender Raum
Kunstverein Bochum, Bochum DE

2008 Artbots 2008
Science Gallery, Dublin IE

2008 CYNETart 2008
Festspielhaus Hellerau, Dresden DE

2008 Electrohype 2008 – the fifth biennial for computer based and technological art
Konsthall, Malmö SE

2007 LAB 30
Abraxas, Augsburg DE

2007 Rechnender Raum
Moltkerei Werkstatt, Cologne DE

(c) Ralf Baecker 2004 - 2023