ZKM | Zentrum für Kunst und Medien, Karlsruhe
17.3 – 5.8.2018
The exhibition »DIA-LOGOS. Ramon Llull and the ars combinatoria« is dedicated to the outstanding Catalan-Majorcan philosopher, logician, and mystic Ramon Llull (c. 1232–c. 1316), whose life and work continue to fascinate a host of thinkers, artists, and scholars today.
The influence of his universal concepts and ideas can be found in many fields — literature, visual arts, music, philosophy, religion, and politics — and their effects are felt in contemporary disciplines such as information theory, informatics, and media technology.
In the exhibition this broad scope of Llull’s impact will be reflected in a many-layered network of references stretching from the thirteenth century into the present day. Besides the significance of Llullian combinatorics for generative and algorithmic principles to develop advanced media technologies, it is particularly highly topical questions concerning the transfer of knowledge and values that can be dealt with through unconditional readiness to enter into dialogue.
The exhibition is developed around two key areas, which are closely interwoven in a unique way: for one thing, Llull’s ideas exhibit elementary aspects of media archaeology and media philosophy, which render his work indispensable for contemporary discourses on media ecology and machine learning algorithms; for another, his universal, rational system of knowledge gives rise to an approach that is highly relevant today, which is implemented as a dialogue by productively engaging with the Other beyond the cultures and constraints of the three major monotheistic religions. The exhibition begins by exploring Llull’s system of knowledge, his ars combinatoria, and its enormous influence on formal logic and algorithmic theories — the basis upon which advanced networked media technologies are developed. The method developed by Llull is based on logical and calculatory operations, which he translated into diagrams and »thinking machines« on paper, is presented in the exhibition as a precursor of program languages and their algorithmic logic. The Llullian system of thinking is both a source of inspiration and a sounding board for many contemporary artists who engage with the mechanisms and effects of our environment that is interconnected by media technologies.
In addition, the exhibition seeks to show to what extent Llull’s grand endeavor of unifying the different areas of knowledge via a rational system of deduction and demonstration can lead to dialogue and ultimately to peace between the three monotheistic religions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. In the face of increasing radicalism, purportedly in the name of religion, and national isolationist tendencies, which respond to the global challenges of migration, integration, and social diversity by erecting barriers, Llull’s untiring attempts at universal dialogue are more topical than ever before. This makes him a source of inspiration for developing potential courses of action now and in the future.