Harm van den Dorpel (NL, 1981) is a Berlin-based conceptual artist. His broad practice includes the creation of sculpture, collage, computer animation, computer generated graphics and interaction design. He is regarded a key figure in Post-internet Art.
Van den Dorpel considers his artistic practice to be a form of epistemology. As he further explains: 'I am interested in both my own capacity to gain, process and produce forms of knowledge, but also the more general ways human beings as entities enact these processes. This means that my work has a strong cognitive and perceptual component as well as the—in my opinion overemphasised—technological aspect that features in much of the critical writing around my work. I feel that technology is important, but that it is only a means to an end, a tool for increasing our understanding of our own experience. I seek to produce works that explore not only the technological hardware we use in our daily lives, but the ways in which we use it, the modalities of interface that are created, enabled, facilitated and restricted by the advance of technology.
My first forays into visual art came as the movement that has come to be known as “Net Art” was coalescing. I still feel very close to the aims and interests of this period of contemporary art—essentially the late 1990s to the early years of the 21st Century. Net Art expressed an interest in the possibilities that new forms of popular connectivity could produce. While I am well aware of the way the corporate internet of today functions, I still approach my artistic practice with a similar sense of endeavour and possibility: I want to know what it is possible to create, how our minds engage and invent the world in which we live. I feel that there was a robust political vision to the early years of Net Art which, while not always overt, spoke of an ethic, an ethic of decentralisation, independence, openness and engagement with human cognitive faculties that are not easily reduced to mere data flows. The role of intuition, even in technologically mediated processes, is increasingly central to my work and I feel that this is something of a holdover from those first years among the Net Artists.
My work has always had an interest in the ways in which our ability to process information is changing. The increasing outsourcing of our lives to algorithms is in some ways a cause for concern, but, from an artistic perspective, it yields valuable information about the way we make choices, and the ways in which information is collected and assessed. My work Deli Near Info sought to explore both the ways in which we are guided by algorithms, but also the ways in which we resist. In a sense it can be thought of as a work about distributed desire, or, just as easily, about the ways in which desire and interest are managed by secondary systems. I feel the work also gave me a new perspective on the notion of the archive as a concept, how information is stored, prioritised, used and understood. This is a research interest that I feel I will seek to engage more deeply in future projects.
My recent work has built on these cognitive concerns and sense of possibility, placing language—as conceived as a means of communication but also as a technology in its own right—increasingly at the centre of new works. In my ongoing project, Death Imitates Language, I explored the ways in which the production of objects by algorithmic methodologies could be both generative and personalized. Recently, I have been creating a series of drawings in a form of “dialogue” with a robotic drawing tool. The robot executes a line according to an algorithmic process and I “intervene” in the work with my own hand, guiding, redirecting, and, to a certain extent battling the mandates the algorithm imposes on the robot. In some sense, dialogue represents a new form of artistic production which is neither the kind of facile AI art that only concerns itself with a kind of technological spectacle (“Look what these machines can do!”), nor is it slavishly beholden to a hyper-humanist discourse centred on “authenticity” and “originality”.'
Selected exhibitions include the New Museum in New York, MoMa PS1 in New York, Ullens Center for Contemporary Art in Beijing, Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw, Museum Kurhaus Kleve, and the Netherlands Media Art Institute in Amsterdam. In 2015, Van den Dorpel started Left Gallery, a Berlin-rooted online contemporary art gallery that commissions, produces, and sells downloadable files.
Berlin, 24 Jun - 29 Jul '17
Amsterdam, 25 Mar - 7 May '17
Berlin, 26 Nov '16 - 4 Feb '17
Kleef, 1 Jul - 18 Sep '16
New York, 22 Nov - 22 Nov '15
Vienna, 11 Jun - 4 Oct '15
Milan, 15 May - 15 Jun '15
Amsterdam, 20 Mar - 25 Apr '15
New York, 20 Feb - 3 Apr '15
Berlin, 7 Feb - 11 Apr '15
Los Angeles, 23 Jan - 7 Mar '15
Berlin, 14 Nov '14 - 10 Jan '15
Beijing, 1 Mar - 11 May '14
New York, 26 Sep - 30 Sep '13
Online exhibition hosted by the New Museum, NYC, 1 May - 31 Dec '13
New York, 19 Apr - 1 Jun '13
Basel, 11 May - 2 Jun '12
Amsterdam, 10 Dec '11 - 5 Feb '12