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"Rediscover yourself!"

Diploma thesis 2023

Exhaustion theme

Master class/ Ortweinschule Graz

The extent of destruction and exploitation (“exhaustion”) of nature continues to increase despite the scenario of global climate change and rising global temperatures without regard for future generations. Less than 20 years ago, terms such as the destruction of the rainforests, waste tourism, environmental disasters, low-wage countries, exploitation and social misery were, for the majority of the European population, just buzzwords for a world far away somewhere in Africa, Asia or South America. These conflict potentials have now also reached Europe and the western industrialized countries. They are giving rise to a previously unknown threat scenario in all social groups, which has great social and political explosive power.

For us humans, the world we feel is spinning ever faster. We live in a constant time crunch with countless conditionings of social guidelines. Increasing stress leads many people to permanent overwhelm and, as a result, very often to severe crises of exhaustion and burnout. Ascending trend.

The idea of progress that has been cemented in place for centuries has shaken enormously. In his work "Origin and Present", which was conceived around 100 years ago and published in 1949, the Swiss philosopher Jean Gebser relativized progress as a departure from the origin. He describes human history as a sequence of levels of consciousness. According to Gebser, we are now in the mental age, which began around 2,500 years ago in ancient Greece. The famous sentence by Rene Descartes can be considered symptomatic of the self-image of this age: “Cogito ergo sum.” – I think, therefore I am.”

According to Gebser, the mental age is in decline today. A sign of this is hyperrationality, in which the scientific intellect is declared a dogma.

The sociologist and contemporary researcher Hartmut Rosa brings in another very interesting aspect of the idea of progress. Rosa describes a radical paradigm shift in thinking about progress since around the 1980s. While the motivation in the past was always to improve the respective living conditions, the new credo means that under no circumstances should one miss the connection with technological progress, as this would lead to a decline in global competition. The motivation for progress is no longer in front of us, but behind us and drives us relentlessly. And so we are running away from a dark abyss today and at the same time are confronted with huge problems in the future, as mentioned above.

The solution approaches of both researchers can be very simplified with the terms slowing down, looking inwards and reflecting again on the holistic nature of being human.

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With this in mind, I designed and implemented the artwork “Rediscover yourself” as a spatial installation.

The individual exhibition visitor is asked to make their way through the circular spatial installation from the outside to the inside with the necessary attentiveness without time pressure and to engage in a playful experience of amazement through visual impressions, sound, touch and light.

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