Matrix of Knowledge, 1969-70/2017

Matrix of Knowledge, 1969-70/2017


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Fri, 11/04/2022 – 16:52

Matrix of Knowledge is a comment on future computerized, censored knowledge, a predictable result of increasing specialization and information overload leading to undue condensations, generalizations, or elimination of important information.

The work anticipates a future in which evolution will be speeded up or slowed down at will and information will be dehydrated and coded for storage to be hydrated for consumption at chosen intervals.

Matrix of Knowledge presents an entire field, branch of science, or a human life at a glance the way a youth of the future might receive abridged and pre-selected educational material.

The sum of accumulated information doubles every seven to ten years. In the future this overload will increase until abridgments and reductions will appear at the pressing of a button on a systems analyzer, decoder, or computer. War and Peace may be reduced to a succinct paragraph if not eliminated altogether to appear only as a title under the heading “Russian Writers and Their Work.” No one will have the time or the inclination to read an entire book, or so many books, and individual thinking will diminish.

A youth today may read less than five-hundred books or their equivalent to be well educated. This number could easily jump to ten or twenty-thousand in the near future. When having to read and learn that much becomes more than the mind can handle, reduction, pre-selection, and elimination will be the answer.

But who shall make these decisions – by what method and criteria? The individuals will certainly not be able to do it. A system will have to be set up to reduce incoming data at the risk of losing free choice. Mass media is already making choices for us, and specialization is also leading in that direction by trapping valuable data within each specialty where it remains undigested, hindering accurate deductions and combinations as the flow of communication is blocked (Octopus Theory*).

Matrix of Knowledge was originally designed for the exhibition SOFTWARE Information Technology: It’s New Meaning for Art, held at the Jewish Museum in New York in 1970. The work uses data structure scheduling events in 3-D space. A crystallographic connective system confronts the viewer with the challenge of comparing ideas using pre-selected, condensed information making the selection process just as complicated even though the ideas are “packaged.” In one program visitors could create their own lives, where only Birth and Death were unchangeable – pre-fixed givens.

Matrices were built in Creative Reason, Evolution, Politics and Systems or Ism-Isms, Emotions and Passions, Tree of Porphyry, and A Man’s Life.

© 1970 Agnes Denes

*a concept further developed in Book of Dust as the Octopus Model.


Type C Print
28-1/2 x 42 inches

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