Hans Op de Beeck: Extensions

3 March 2007 - 2 May 2007

Galleria Continua, San Gimignano, IT

For "Extensions" the belgian artist Hans Op de Beeck has created for Galleria Continua a completely new body of work that once again centers around a macro-story: the relationship between body and machine.
The structure of the environment in which post-modern Western man lives today appears to be greatly increasing the abstraction between body and mind. Where exactly are we nowadays when we think and act?
Automated urban existence is a biotope of grids and patterns, a well-oiled system in which machines and spaces adhere almost imperceptibly like artificial limbs to the body. The body has become the weak and unpredictable link in an infinity of rational, technical configurations. Furthermore, the labyrinthine connections are continually being renewed: nothing becomes obsolete faster than a new computer or a mass-produced building type. In houses the virtual windows of the computer and of digital TV readily replace interpersonal relations or even, simply, the view of the garden.
Do computer addicts still really live in their bodies or do they live almost entirely in their virtual “second lives”? Do their thoughts still dwell in their bodies or are they merely suspended in cyberspace? And are their virtual relationships equally rarefied, or are they actually more concrete and direct than they ever have been?

To what extent nowadays do we try to banish fundamental aspects such as illness and death from our daily lives, distancing ourselves from them by shutting them up in hospitals like megalomaniacs, where life is ruthlessly summed up in terms of birth, illness and death?
Individual needs are calculated per thousand inhabitants, in gigantic, formally interchangeable buildings. The capillary connections in those buildings often unconsciously steer our decisions and responsibilities, or even take them over from us without us even realizing.
The almost suffocating proximity of everything, which has been caused by the annulling of many physical distances, almost seems to make the body and its perception superfluous. Are we witnessing the failure of certain senses or can we also interpret them positively as a gradually process of detachment from the physical that will provide greater scope for spirituality?

When does the body control the extensions and when do the extensions control the body? The independence of individual action is becoming increasingly hazy and indistinct.
In “Extensions”, which consists of installations, sculptures, drawings, photographs and an animated film, the artist employs a silent, low-key figurative language, exploring the relationship between body, mind and extensions in the Western world today. Sometimes seriously and sometimes ironically, he poses questions to which he does not want and cannot give an answer. Just as he is unwilling and incapable of interpreting such an evolution in a positive or negative sense. In his view, the human race’s incessant craving for progress is at once tragic and ridiculous, and for this reason also moving. Today the problematic relationship between the body, thought (a worn-out shadow of its former self), technology and large-scale architectural space creates emptiness, suffering and mediocrity, but also beauty, comfort and liberation.