Homo Ex Machina


6 and 7 March 2020

Between the end of the 19th century and the 1950s, industrialisation reached epoch-making heights in the mining industry in the Ruhr Region and thus crucially shaped the face of the area – it continues to form the basis of the region’s identity to this day. The mining Industry caused incisive changes in the lives and working worlds of the People and transformed the formerly rural Ruhr region into a mega-Metropolis with an eventful history. These new realities were also reflected in the visual worlds created by artists. The latter focused in particular on the interaction of man and machine, as both moved ever closer together. Art became a mirror of industrialisation, and likewise of the spread of technology and digitisation – those major shifts in society. In this way art, too, provided the stimuli for the world today. In view of the thrust of the exhibition The Assembled Human, which looks at over 100 years of art history, the two-day symposium addresses both the theme of industrialisation up until our digital present day and issues of transhumanism. The location of Museum Folkwang, namely the Ruhr region, shaped as it is by life and work in the mining and the steel processing industries, provides the launchpad and the underlying intellectual red thread for the event.
Homo Ex Machina comprises aspects, questions and propositions on the topic of humankind in the flow of the timeline of industrialisation, technologisation and digitisation. It examines the ambivalent relationship between man and (his) machines, from the mechanical beginnings through to the digital extensions, the merging with technology. Taking into account the latest developments in artificial intelligence, which are currently triggering heated debates about the controllability of the developed technologies, and the discourse surrounding transhumanism, a look back at the previous century, not least, permits a revision of the subject. From these historico-critical, rhizome-like perspectives, the different ways of looking at this subject emerge. The internationally renowned speakers from areas such as art history, cultural theory, philosophy, media sciences and journalism will offer an interdisciplinary as well as contemporary-historical examination of the interrelationships between humans and machines – and at the same time clarify the relevance, as it were, of the question for the present day.

On the occasion of the exhibition The Assembled Human (8 November 2019 – 15 March 2020)

The Programme...

The Abstracts...

Admission free. Limited number of participants
Registration for the symposium until 28 February 2020 at symposium@museum-folkwang.essen.de

The symposium is funded by 

The exhibition is made possible by

Ansprache Isabel Hufschmidt

Max Hoppenstedt

Blick ins Publikum

Natasha Vita-More

Talk mit Reto Schölly, Isabel Hufschmidt und Elisabeth von Samsonow

Janina Loh

Herbert M. Hurka

Jonas Weber Herrera

Nathalie Weidenfeld

Talk mit Magdalena Kröner, Isabel Hufschmidt und Tim Cole

Pipo Tafel