The knowledge network: Encyclonospace Iranica explores computer networks and the production of knowledge

In the Encyclonospace Iranica exhibit, television monitors are used to address the problem of human-machine interaction. | Photo by Anastasia Scherders

In the Encyclonospace Iranica exhibit, television monitors are used to address the problem of human-machine interaction. | Photo by Anastasia Scherders

As the presence of computer devices constantly increases in daily life, the network that connects these devices grows wider, more complex, and indisputably consequential. Encyclonospace Iranica, the current exhibition at Access Gallery, focuses on networked computers and how they affect the production of contemporary knowledge. The exhibition is curated by Mohammad Salemy, an independent curator based in Vancouver, and stems from his multi-faceted research project, titled Tahghigh (meaning research or investigation in both Arabic and Farsi).

“I am concerned with the impact of the larger global space created by networked computers,” says Salemy. He refers to the process of telecommunication and computation as “telecomputation.” He examines how it changes the way knowledge is conceived and produced.

“[My work explores] how this process is impacting the being of humans,” he says

The philosophy of Reza Negarestani

Encyclonospace Iranica includes the work of nine Iranian artists: Ali Ahadi, Abbas Akhavan, Sohrab Kashani, Gelare Khosgozaran, Tala Madani, Anahita Razmi, Raha Raissnia, and Nooshin Rostami.

The collection of work responds to Iranian philosopher-writer Reza Negarestani’s examination of contemporary knowledge and the modern systems that produce it. The exhibit’s title incorporates the title of his latest book, Cyclonopedia. Collectively, these artists explore the ‘digital turn’ in the fields of science and humanities.

Unlike the exhibitions of most art institutions, Encyclonospace Iranica blurs the lines that normally separate one individual work of art from another and, instead, present the artists’ works as a single project.

According to Salemy, each artist has used Negarestani’s work about the shortcomings of the computational system of knowledge as inspiration. Their own work explores the fine balance between using and subverting digital technologies.

Two diagrams by Negarestani and the audio recording of his talk titled “Abducting the Outside: Modernity and the Culture of Acceleration” are also present in the exhibition.

Diagrams by Reza Negarestani. | Photo by Anastasia Scherders

Diagrams by Reza Negarestani. | Photo by Anastasia Scherders

Reconfiguring technological devices

Several television monitors – each playing a different video – dominate the exhibition space at Access Gallery. Salemy points out television monitors are used as a starting point to address the problem of human-machine interaction. One of the sculptural installations consists of a flat-screen television – a central fixture within a typical household – that is positioned to face the wall with a mirror reflecting the screen’s image.

“Video is very prominent in the show even though the content of the works all have something to do with the space of telecomputation and the objects of networked computing,” says Salemy.

The exhibition also includes a mobile sculpture consisting of the parts of a broken ‘mobile’ device – an iPhone that creator Nooshin Rostami unintentionally dropped in water. Both sculptures reconfigure a technological device that is central to our lives, and the sharing and reception of information.

Encyclonospace Iranica highlights the prevalence of digital devices and data in modern society, and questions its impact while simultaneously introducing an engaging collection of work by a group of Iranian-born artists.

The exhibit shows from Sept. 14–Oct. 26, 2013 at Access Gallery, located at 222 E. Georgia. Admission is free. The gallery is open Tues–Sat. from 12–5 p.m. For more information on this exhibition, visit