TAHGHIGH PROJECT

TAHGHIGH is an extensive research initiative and curatorial project by Vancouver-based critic and curator Mohammad Salemy that engages with disaporic Iranian knowledge producers whose work involves a strong visual component or corresponds to contemporary global visual culture. Rather than a platform for showcasing ‘Iranian art,’ Tahghigh is an investigation into how the dominant telecomputational paradigm – marked by the accelerating use of computers, networked technologies, software, big data and digital visuality – has transformed the working practices of individual Iranian knowledge producers and the modes of research and self-representation they employ.

TAHGHIGH is an ambitiously utopian project driven by the urgent need to develop new poetic and critical languages capable of describing and overcoming the reality of telecomputationality. Drawing on emerging approaches to technology in post-Continental philosophy and communication theory, the project seeks to reflect on the possibility of a shift beyond the structural limits of the dominant telecomputational model of knowledge production and circulation. It will explore how it is possible, both individually and collectively, to utilize the available technologies beyond their mechanical limitations in order to arrive at an immanent and integrated system of knowledge.

In addition to the online system, the project will encompass several other outputs, including a physical exhibition at Access Gallery, an artist’s residency, two publications, and a conference held in Vancouver in March 2014 in which several of those participating in the project will take part.

EXHIBITION
Encyclonospace Iranica is a group exhibition showcasing the work of nine emerging Iranian artists developed in response to the contemporary Iranian philosopher Reza Negarestani’s reconceptualization of the modern system of knowledge. The exhibition marks the culmination of curator Mohammad Salemy’s multi-faceted research project, TAHGHIGH, which explores the emergence and widespread use of networked computers and their irreversible role in transforming the evolving relationship between art, technology and the process of knowledge production. The works in Encyclonospace Iranica are presented as a singular project: the institutionally imposed borders normally separating individual works of art in an exhibition space have been intentionally blurred. For this exhibition, Ali Ahadi, Abbas Akhavan, Sohrab Kashani, Gelareh Khosgozaran, Tala Madani, Anahita Razmi, Raha Raissnia, and Nooshin Rostami each respond to the ‘digital turn’ in the humanities and sciences, and address the ways in which this shift must be accounted for and incorporated into an, inherently political, understanding of the contemporary theory of knowledge. (download PDF catalogue)

WEB-BASED NAVIGATIONAL SYSTEM
ENCYCLONOPEDIA IRANICA is a collective web-based navigational system that appropriates its name from Encyclopedia Iranica (iranicaonline.org), the largest online scholarly encyclopedia about Iran, but employs a non-mechanical and vertiginous approach to the production and dissemination of knowledge. Participants in this project include artists, humanities scholars, writers, mathematicians, scientists, poets, bloggers, and designers from inside and outside of Iran. They have been invited to participate in the project by contributing one body of digital material gathered or produced as part of a research or artistic project. The contributions will be organized in a navigational system, enabling users to interact with individual participants or look for common themes and methods that unite or separate a multiplicity of practices. The online system will establish interconnections between the participants’ contributions, transforming an individually generated form of knowledge into a collective one. By offering an integrated interface that weaves together search results from within the system and specific targeted information available elsewhere on the internet, Encyclonopedia Iranica produces a multi-navigational method for gathering and circulating digital knowledge.

CONFERENCE
WHAT SHOULD WE DO WITH COMPUTERS: DIGITALITY AND THE MODERN SYSTEM OF KNOWLEDGE AT THE THRESHOLD OF 21ST CENTURY (WSWDWC)

Today we live in a world where instead of a single picture ‘telling a thousand stories,’ countless sets of data are assembled and processed algorithmically to create thousands of complex, concurrent and interrelated pictures. Resting upon the computational promise of ever-new developments in hardware, software, and network technologies, a graphically dynamic, statistically-driven and object-oriented form of structural positivism has emerged as the dominant condition for the production and dissemination of knowledge. Starting first in the natural and social sciences and later spreading to the humanities, the ‘digital turn’ has recently begun to reshape how artists and writers look at the world, conceive their practices and connect with audiences.

Many artists, philosophers and scholars from a variety of fields agree that the global and widespread use of networked computers in the last two decades has forever transformed the overlapping relations between art, technology and the process of knowledge production. What is still contested however are the ways in which this shift needs to be accounted for and incorporated into an, inherently political, understanding of the contemporary theory of knowledge.

WSWDWC expands upon a research project that begins in September 2013 with an exhibition at Vancouver’s Access Gallery. The exhibition, Encyclonospace Iranica, showcases work by nine Iranian artists’ responding to the relationship between computation and knowledge and the distinct approach to technology proposed by the philosopher Reza Negarestani. The exhibition will be followed by the launch of a web-based navigational system, Encyclonopedia Iranica, that hosts digital research materials by selected artists, scholars and scientists from the Iranian diaspora. WSWDWC probes the ramifications of knowledge production’s dependence on machines, mechanical thinking and telecomputation as well as the theoretical and practical entanglement of technological apparatuses with aesthetic theory and art practices. In addition to keynote addresses and discussions by Reza Negarestani and media theorist Alexander R. Galloway, the conference will feature presentations by a number of artists and scholars addressing the impact of computers on research processes and knowledge production in the early decades of the 21st century.

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