Joachim Coucke bei The Stable, Waregem, Belgien

Joachim Coucke, To empty the mind, installation view at The Stable, Waregem, Belgium.

KünstlerIn: Joachim Coucke

Titel: To empty the mind

Datum: 23. Juni – 1. September 2019

Fotografie: Copyrights: The Stable and the artist | Photography by Alexandra Colmenares


To empty the mind. Relief as all the clutter is drained from the mind. Isn’t this a beautiful thought? But is it still possible, in a world drowning in endless waves of information? Please dive into this sea (of cables). But don’t get swallowed by the energy in their thin plastic skins.

Smart home, smart watch, smart phone, smart TV, smart people, smart world - what if only everything could be smarter than it is - starting with us. We cherish on these new intelligent gadgets that are meant to guide us through everyday life. Finally - freedom; of all that is restraining us (what to eat, what to watch, what to do, with whom to fuck), being dazed by the shine of liberty embracing and entangling you ever more. How pleasant, to be connected to everyone and everything. We are so close, watching others watching, sharing the same void, the same feelings, the same boredom. Checking your devices a zillion times a minute, just to be sure, you don’t miss a thing, you are up-to-date. This connectivity is sought as an achievement in the post-unsmart world. We want to be transparent, to be the glass-made human; we feel free, so we give everything we have - which in the end is raw information. Deliberately we hand in all of us, it doesn’t even feel strange anymore - habits change and so do we, physically and mentally. All that noise about social consequences and so on only finds deaf eyes and ears that are too busy liking or disliking something meaningless. Because, what is left to do with all that spare time? The more we see, the less interesting it gets. How dull life can be, you notice with every new augmented face app. Watching people opening and closing their mouths like a fish just to get the app going certainly rises a lot of questions. Strangely though, there is a natural harmony to all that change. Pretending to be made for mankind to help, knowing that we feed certain systems with every click and interaction, we do not care, or rather maybe cannot care, or won´t care. It is just as it has always been a part of us, it feels unnatural not to do so.

Joachim Coucke´s works speak of this natural change, the relationship between us and the digital and physical realm, knowing that a demarcation is impossible. His installations and sculptures investigate the ethical and moral debates that arise from current technofied euphemisms, using an ever lasting supply of outdated computer hardware. All that is fluid and ethereal, allowing information to flow, has indeed a physical equivalent. When an algorithmized life tries more and more to detach sensation from one´s body, these accumulations of technological waste, seem unreal, but indeed they are and ever spreading.

“To Empty your Mind” continues to bring forth new beings, that seem to grow ever more amorphous structures. Standing in front of the space, the disparity of a digital future becomes obvious: Floating in the window, the neon-letters “The Societies In The Clouds” speak of our habit to share, the need to make everything translucent and accessible, while being juxtaposed by a room-filling installation of network, USB and power supply cables. Waste and lightness oppose each other, making clear one cannot go without the other. Following up on his series of sculptures using masks and computer parts, Coucke humanized them one step further in a strange manner, by making it somewhat clear they could be a head of something that watches you. This wild growth of hardware, that builds the “Dwellers“ series is continued in two aquarium-like pieces. Here, in a black server cabinet, and a plexiglass box, technified organic things, that could resemble coral reefs, seem to have long past the point, when things still needed human hands to construct it. They are asking, what the difference between nature and technology could any longer be. Against the backdrop of autonomous technology, the vision of our entanglement within a self-run megastructure doesn’t seem too kitschy any more.

Jonas Schenk, Co-curator at Mélange, Cologne (Germany)