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Suzanne Treister THUTOAH (Op Art)

Interview: Suzanne Treister on Broken Symmetries



Part of the Winter 2018 season

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Suzanne Treister THUTOAH (Op Art)

Suzanne Treister, THUTOAH_(Op art), 2018, HD Video still. Photo: Courtesy the artist, Annely Juda Fine Art, London and P.P.O.W., New York.

Treister was the winner of the 2018 Collide International Award, a collaboration between FACT and Arts at CERN since 2016. She has been a pioneer in the new media and web based field since the early 1990’s, making work about emerging technologies, developing fictional worlds and international collaborative organisations. An ongoing focus of Treister’s work is the relationship between new technologies, society, alternative belief systems and the potential futures of humanity. In this blog, Suzanne discusses the themes, background and ideas behind her Broken Symmetries work, The Holographic Universe Theory of Art History (THUTOAH).

How would you describe THUTOAH?

The central work of THUTOAH is an experimental video. Echoing the methodology of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN it tests my theory by accelerating centuries of art history into several minutes, projecting over 25,000 works chronologically at 25 images-per-second in a looped sequence. Alongside the video I am also showing a series of artworks made by the four theoretical particle physicists I interviewed at CERN, describing the holographic principle, and the recorded discussions form the soundtrack of the video.

What are the main themes and subject matter of the work?

THUTOAH gives the viewer an hallucinogenic rollercoaster ride through cave painting, the art of the Ancient World, the Americas, Africa, Asian art, the European Renaissance, to modernism and global contemporary art, including outsider and psychedelic art. The work sheds its own strange lighting effects back onto the social, historical, personal and political machinations of art, and the multiple intentions and legacies of art history.

How does your work relate to time spent at CERN through Collide International?

I had already had a theory, several years prior to my CERN residency, connecting the holographic universe principle and art history, which hypothesised that beyond accepted contexts and imperatives, when disassociated from historical art movements, from world events and belief systems, from religious, geographical, cultural, political or social contexts, that artists may have also been attempting, involuntarily and or unconsciously, to describe a reality we cannot see with our own eyes, but a reality that has perhaps been intuited over the ages, a reality beyond the already documented intentional depictions of spiritual, mystical or transcendent realities or altered states of consciousness; the reality of the holographic nature of the universe. These ideas had manifested in several diagrams in the project HFT The Gardener (2014-15) and in the project SURVIVOR (F) (2016-ongoing). The residency gave me the opportunity to investigate this theory in another context, by discussing it with theoretical particle physicists at CERN, and as a result I have made this new work, THUTOAH (The Holographic Universe Theory of Art History).