Petros Moris: New Commission for KW Institute for Contemporary Art, The Last Museum (Athens Edition)
16 September – 16 October 2021
Petros Moris’ new work, Oracle, is set in a derelict textile factory in Laurium—a seaside town in Attica, associated with silver mining since antiquity. Long a source of Athenian wealth and naval power, in the late 19th Century its mines were re-worked for ore extraction, with grave environmental consequences. Later, at the turn of the millennium, this industry collapsed and its massive industrial facilities laid in ruin, awaiting an uncertain future. Moris’ new work responds to that future: According to leaked information, the site will soon house a data-centre complex to be built by a major multinational information technology corporation (for the purpose of running Cloud, IoT and AI services). Conceptually locating his work between Laurium’s past and its future, the artist’s new commission is a powerful response to the context – and to the mythos of the oracle in Greek culture.
Oracle’s sculptures inhabit the entropic spaces of Laurium’s industrial ghost site. Resembling hybrids between human and non-human faces, these objects borrow from archaeological photogrammetric scans and ‘found’ three-dimensional models gathered online. Their metallic sheen reflects the local geological heritage. Additionally, it references how electronic hardware enables what Moris terms ‘uncanny machinic intelligence and the haunting abstraction of computational operations’.
The interface of Oracle is permeated by a haunting soundtrack composed by Bill Kouligas and becomes infiltrated by formations of visual coding and synthetic language that were generated by predictive algorithms. In this work, Moris figures Laurium’s physical and psychic underground space as the origin of contemporary oracular production—where mineral extraction and psychosocial data power enable what the artist calls ‘the deep-dreaming of the algorithmic Cloud’. Altogether Oracle meditates on entangled timelines, imaginaries, and anxieties bound up with socioeconomic and environmental transformation.
The Last Museum (Athens Edition) blurs the line between cinema and sculpture while exploring the potential of website-specificity. Thematically, The Last Museum imagines information transmission across the historical longue durée, dramatizing points of intersection with emerging technologies, (body) politics, and the global economy. As it does so, a leitmotif of displacement, limbo, loss, and undeath plays out.