Über Organismen von Hans Ulrich Obrist


Hans Ulrich Obrist has so kindly written a column article about our meeting in Hong Kong in March 2019, below finds a rough English translation:


On organisms

Hans Ulrich Obrist

Translator: Google + Human

Since Art Basel expanded to Hong Kong in 2013, I have been there every spring and have noticed two things. First, within a few years, the art fair has made a significant contribution to making Hong Kong the most important place of contemporary art in Asia. This is supported by the many galleries that have settled there and the museums and art venues that are getting more each year, the K11 Art Village, a kind of city in the city, the Tai Kwun Center, designed by Herzog & de Neuron, and finally the museum M +, also of the two, which will house the collection of the Swiss Uli Sieg. My second finding almost coincides with the first one: that there are many individuals and institutions from little Switzerland whose dedication has been instrumental in making the huge city one of the most important cultural sites in the world.


The intellectual highlight in Hong Kong was the encounter with the young philosopher Yuk Hui. He teaches at the City University there, and he is so knowledgable, confident, and inebriating for speaking of both Western and Eastern philosophy for a whole morning that I wondered how one person, and so young, can accumulate so much knowledge. Yuk Hui studied computer science and philosophy in Hong Kong and London and habilitated in Germany. His specialty is the combination of technology and philosophy. And because there are very few philosophers who understand how to program the algorithms that increasingly dominate our lives, they are considered by some to be one of the authoritative thinking of the present.


In his writings, most recently his book Recursivity and Contingency, he focused on technocratic visions and their closeness to totalitarianism: the more successful a technology becomes, the more powerful will be those who control it. But Yuk does not trust in the containment and reduction of technological complexity, but in what Yuk Hui calls “cosmic” exaltation. An application, according to Yuk Hui, whose mode of action has become so complex that nobody understands it anymore, can no longer be controlled by anyone and resembles an organism. It comes alive like us, like human, like Hong Kong; constantly changing and constantly searching.