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Toward an Infinite ZERO

Published onJun 29, 2020
Toward an Infinite ZERO

Perception is creation. Sensory information that reaches the human brain must be organized and interpreted into the rich world we perceive. The mind fills this gap between physical signals and experienced reality with perceptual creations. As the mind acts on sensory signals, so too can artists work physical materials and phenomena to shape the signals our senses receive. We craft consciousness of our own perceptual processing, creating artworks that enable us to perceive our own perception. Environment and experience are revealed as two poles of a creative process. If perception is a creative act, experience is the art.

ZERO artists pioneered the generative dynamic between perception and phenomena, especially in the realms of light, movement and vision. We build on their tradition of phenomena as media, art as coordination of mental and physical forces, perception as a source of both art and science, and outer creations as a means to shaping our inner lives.

We who live in a world where science and technology act on us ask: how can we combine art, science and technology to act on our worlds of experience, to remix, modulate, and bring into presence that very relationship between self and environment that defines our sensing lives? We use scientific knowledge and technologies as we engage artistic sensibility and purpose. We work at the juncture of the phenomenological and physical, forming new perceptions. From this experiential ground, we originate thoughts and thought structures. We build new conceptual order beyond oppositional thinking, realizing consonance between each other and between human and natural worlds.

ZERO is not empty. ZERO is not nothing. ZERO directs our attention to the fullness of what cannot be contained in words. If we are quiet, if we see, touch and hear with full attention, we experience the mind and material world before they are named, before they are two. This state of becoming, the vividness of human being, is equally a source of science and art, an endless beginning and Infinite ZERO.

Margareta Bartelmeß:

Do art need a purpose?

Christoph Thormann:

I believe there is no art without a purpose/meaning. At least someone wanted to express himself no matter in which kind of way and regardless of if it is liked by others (Many artists that were not succesfull became very well recognised once the audience understood what they were trying to communicate) . However in my opinion good art should trigger emotions and make the viewer stop infront of an artwork and think about it.

Yunju Lee:

Development of technology has always had impact on art. For example with photography and creation of oil colors, and etc. It enabled artists to take newer approach and opened new perspective into art history. Afterall, technology and art are tightly bonded.

Johannes Raimann:

If perception is a creative act, is experience the only possible form of art? What about conceptual art? What about imaginations?

Sarah Schwettmann:

Great question. Here, we weren’t trying to define art, but rather, the *object* of creative perception? What is being created? (the art). The object of our focus there is perceptual experience (rather than, say, a representation of the external world)

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Sean Mullan:

Thanks for this nice introduction. Even though I didn't have many contacts with ZERO in the past and was rather closer to conceptual art, it is now all the more exciting for me to get to know the cross-border work of the ZERO people and especially Piene through this project.

A large number of artists are now working at the intersection of science and digital technologies. But I'm especially happy to see that science has long been providing impulses to establish an artistic approach to research.

I hope that through a cooperation of these two fields, both will be able to point out the advantages and dangers of digital technologies and a.i. (commercialization of everyday life, surveillance, control of information, etc.).

Because for both fields, art and science, I also see the danger of being appropriated by this commercialization, which is advancing especially through the present control and ownership of information. That may have been a bit off-topic, but I am curious if we will talk about it in the future and what ZERO might have thought about it.

I really look forward to the project!


Wen Bi:

Yesterday I visited an exhibition about the German fashion photographer Peter Lindbergh (1944-2019) at the Kunstpalast Düsseldorf. It is so interest to see how the artists think about creativity, creation, experience and perception.  I would like to share with you (welcome to annotate), it might be relevant to the first paragraph of “Toward an infinite ZERO“:


“When someone creates something: a painting, a poem, a photograph, the creativity comes from an idea, from a feeling, from emotion, or form a combination of ideas, feelings, and emotions that are somehow “reborn” from all our experiences and perspectives. 


Creativity is the desire to express ourselves. To formulate these expressions, we have to draw from our reservoir of experience, dreams, desires and experimentation and mix together what was, what is, and what could be… I don’t think you can learn it, it is rather something that evolves. 


Your perception of everything in your life fills up this reservoir. Some people are drawn to create and express themselves, others are draws to reflect, to analyze. But in the end, shouldn’t we all have the desire to explore the way in which we are integrated in the world of our experiences? Because creativity is really a rebirth, a true tone we feel for ourselves and for our world. Then our work becomes a real part of who we are. Maybe all this is a question of how deep we are willing to go…”

Peter Lindbergh (New York, 1996)