‘A for Alibi’
‘A for Alibi’ is a project organised by the Uqbar foundation consisting of a symposium held at the University Museum Utrecht 15th – 17th April, 2006.
An exhibition held at de Appel, Amsterdam, July 14th – August 18th, 2007 and a book.
The book: In addition to scientific essays on, for example, the historical changes in the perception of the natural world, artists also sketch their personal reflections and relate alternative stories in different ‘case studies’. These indicate routes towards new ways of looking at, and thinking about specific scientific knowledge or objects. With texts by Mika Hannula, Raimundas Malasauskas, Charlotte Bigg, Erna Fiorentini and Katrin Solhdju, an interview with Tiemen Cocquyt, and contributions by the participating artists Maria Barnas, Brian O’Connell, Irene Kopelman, James Beckett, Sebastian Diaz Morales, Suchan Kinoshita, Mariana Castillo Deball and Tine Melzer.
The book is available via the Uqbar foundation or Sternberg Press, ISBN: 978-1-933128-33-7.
Alibi: Latin elsewhere, at another place. The mode of defense under which a person on trial for a crime proves he was in another place when the alleged act was committed. Science has produced a repertory of images that represent natural phenomena and visions of the world. The relation between these images and reality is a complex one, in the sense that their meanings are always fluctuating. Reality doesn’t determine representation, and representation is linked but not necessarily fixed to what we believe the world is. Like in the alibi, there is a place that is full, and one that is empty, linked by a relation of negative identity. In the case of the ordinary alibi, this process has an end; reality stops the turnstile revolving at a certain point. But in the case of the history of representation, the position of the actors is always shifting: the meaning is sometimes there to present the form; the form is in other cases there to outdistance the meaning.
Scientific instruments are mediators in between sense and reason, linking the objective external world and the subjective mind. As a challenge to human capabilities of observing and measuring the outside world, they have been often used to extend the senses, to see or to hear, amplifying the natural conditions. From a historical perspective, scientific instruments play an important role when understanding practice as a vital momentum in the construction of meanings. Scientific Instruments allowed the observer to approach nature in a way that would be otherwise impossible, in that sense, they do not just follow theory but they also determine theory; working in between what is possible and what can be thoughts.
Besides ‘A for Alibi’ a font was designed specifically for the inauguration of the Uqbar foundation. The Uqbar foundation aims to generate a platform for interdisciplinary practice and discussion, creating spaces for dialogue among artists, scientists and institutions. Uqbar aims to develop new ways of collaboration between artistic, scientific and social practices. We strongly believe that it is important to expand the frontiers of art practice into other areas of knowledge; and generate new spaces, thus setting up a platform for production and discussion. The way different disciplines and sections of knowledge approach the world, how do these methodologies function, and how do they contribute to build a collective notion of reality are central questions for Uqbar.
We consider that the artistic practice generates a space, which is not based in specialization, but in an open gaze over the general state of our times. Uqbar aims to explore this capacity, working towards a close collaboration with different areas of knowledge, individuals and institutions such as museums, universities, archives and libraries.