Ingo Günther (Germany/USA)
WORLDPROCESSOR—EXPLORING THE PLANETARY CONDITION OF GLOBALITY
After dealing with time-critical mapping projects for reporting news in both print and television media in the mid-1980s, I “discovered” the globe as a communication medium in 1988. Especially in those pre-Internet days, I saw both the need for consolidating information about the entirety of the global condition and the possibility of mapping these data on a sphere. It was the quintessential medium to chronicle and represent the elements that condition the new emerging globality. And it was time to expand the 500-year-old world globe to serve the needs of the twentieth and now twenty-first century.
This has been an enduring project that has evolved and grown steadily over twenty years. However, in the last five years, it has sprouted digital wings, allowing the results now to be seen on spherical projection systems. These more recent cinematographic (moving/ dynamic) maps were made specifically for the largest high-resolution spherical movie screen on Earth: the Geo-Cosmos at the National Museum for Emerging Sciences and Innovation, Miraikan, in Tokyo. The maps are shown there now on a daily basis.
The Worldprocessor project is inspired by art, journalism, and scientific research. It is trying to be as accurate and objective as possible, but it is also trying to generate intuitively accessible, comprehensive, and memorable visuals. It is designed specifically for presentation in installations so as to engage and encourage visitors to interact with the topics and with each other. These globes serve as vectors and catalysts, as “conversation pieces,” as much as they serve to convey a comprehensive data reality.
Traditionally, I have relied exclusively on existing data to show what the world is like (beyond the geography provided on globes) and to give a useful sense of proportion and dimension. Recently, given the rapid change of development and therefore data, I came to the conclusion that historical data (even when they are updated) are no longer as useful as they once were. The scope and speed of change have accelerated, and analog/linear projections, while intuitive, are likely misleading. Change is now often exponential, especially since just about everything today is subject to datafication, connectivity, and some form of digital data quantification and control. No leveling off in this trend can be expected any time soon. In view of this, I am now starting to expand the project into a series of data projection and forecasting globes that deal with rivaling and contradictory prognoses and methodologies.
I am not in the business of propaganda or agitprop, and I strongly believe that people have to come to their own conclusions. As such, I offer information in the most palatable way, but try to avoid anything that could be understood as indoctrination or manipulation.
The evolving Worldprocessor project in its many iterations has been shown in over twenty countries around the globe and has been installed permanently in Switzerland, Japan, and Germany.
Specific web component to complement the exhibition: world-processor.com
Ingo Günther grew up in northern Germany. He traveled in North Africa, North and Central America, and Asia before studying cultural anthropology at Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main, then sculpture and media at Kunstakademie Düsseldorf, earning his M.A.in 1982. He was supported in his studies by a scholarship from the German National Academic Foundation; a university stipend for his artist’s residency at P.S.1 in New York; a German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) scholarship; and a Kunstfonds grant. He has worked as an artist, correspondent, and author for German and Japanese news media. He founded the first independent television station in Eastern Europe (Leipzig’s Channel X) in 1989, the same year he began the Worldprocessor project. Subsequent research in refugee camps inspired his work Refugee Republic (ongoing since 1990).
From 1990-1994, he taught at Kunsthochschule für Medien Köln,and he was professor for media economics at Zürcher Hochschuleder Künste (ZHdK; Zurich University of the Arts) from 2001-2003.He was a visiting professor at the Tokyo University of the Arts in 2006-2007.
His works have been shown at National galerie Berlin (1983,1985); Venice Biennale (1984); documenta, Kassel, Germany (1987); P3, Tokyo (1990, 1992, 1996, 1997, 2015); Ars Electronica, Linz,Austria (1991); Centro Cultural de Belém, Lisbon (1995); Hiroshima City Museum of Contemporary Art, Japan (1995); Solomon R.Guggenheim Museum, New York (1996); Kunsthalle Düsseldorf(1998); V2 Institute for the Unstable Media, Rotterdam (2003);Yokohama Triennale, Japan (2005); San Jose Museum of Art,California (2006); Espacio Fundación Telefónica, Buenos Aires (2007,2015); Iwaki City Art Museum, Japan (2009); Kumu Kunstimuuseum, Tallinn, Estonia (2011); Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona (2014); P3, Tokyo (2015); and Somerset House, London,2016. He was commissioned in 2010 to generate work for Geo-Cosmos, the emblematic spherical screen at the Museum of Emerging Sciences and Innovation (Miraikan), Tokyo.
Günther’s work is in many public collections and international institutions, and he has received several awards. He is currently an adviser to the New York Hall of Science and Miraikan, Tokyo; a researcher at Indiana University at Bloomington; and an adviser and artistic director of Tochoji, one of Tokyo’s oldest Zen temples. He is a frequent contributor to Foresight magazine, Tokyo. He maintains an office in New York.