Korakrit Arunanondchai was born in 1986, in Thailand, and lives in New York. They use video, painting and performance to engage with subjects such as history, self-representation, and cultural dislocation. Employing an array of styles and media, their work seeks to investigate the relationships between Western and Thai cultural narratives, belief systems and artistic practices. Arunanondchai’s key institutional solo shows include Kiasma Museum of Modern Art, Helsinki; S.M.A.K., Ghent; UCCA, Beijing; Palais de Tokyo, Paris; and MoMA PS1, New York.
the species after us
will hold out the rock and ask
if this was the computer
the eye in the sky will answer
Life is a characteristic that distinguishes physical entities that have biological, self-sustaining processes, from those that do not – either because these functions were never there, or because they have ceased. Death is the cessation of all biological functions that sustain the living organism and is often the result of ageing, predation, malnutrition, disease, or terminal trauma. In most cases, bodies of living organisms begin to decompose shortly after death.
Life as a characteristic and death as a phenomenon are perhaps as ambiguous as our perception and understanding of them. Biology, being the primary science concerned with the study of life, does not necessarily provide us with answers either. Where an understanding of life and death in western science may have limitations, many belief systems are built on what is unexplainable through biological processes, often suggesting faith in a larger continuation of associations. Simultaneously, the potential of life in biologically inanimate entities is on the verge of realisation. AI scientists are close to consensus in believing that an artificial superintelligence will exist within the next few decades – a lifeform potentially freed from organic degradation.
Continuing their previous work on global capitalism and animism, Korakrit Arunanondchai’s with history in a room filled with people with funny names 4 delves into the interconnectivity of everything; deterioration and death become means for new life and reincarnation, spawning an infinite stream of data. Amid artificial and organic life, we are hypnotised through the camera’s eye of drone spirit Chantri, voiced in French by the artist’s mother. In a cinematic space somewhere between documentary and speculation, footage of a crowd holding up white roses in protest of the newly elected President Trump, are followed by people mourning the death of the Thai king. The demise of one emperor’s reign begins another.
Glances at the artist’s previous films and installations suggest as much an accumulation of data, as the dawn of its decay. We meet the artist’s amnesic grandmother who proclaims ‘The present stopped existing for me’ describing their own loss of temporality, as the atemporal space in which the work exists. Their fading memory brings us to questions beyond individual or collective memory. What becomes of the formerly animate in a post-mortal condition, and what memories of humankind remain when the giant rat of the future has outlived us?
Look to the ground, where organic matter decomposes into earth, and our bones become memories engraved into the rock strata. New forms of animation may come to reign in a digital world, where our memories are flooded, but the memory of us may still resurface. Will we manage to become one with you and dematerialise into the flow of the Great Spirit?