When I was a child, my three siblings, my parents and I would occasionally go out for dinner. We would all sit around the table waiting for the waiter to take our order. After he finished his round he would comment on our beautiful big family and point out that I have the same brown eyes like my father. My father and I would then look at each other and smile, like two accomplices, knowing that we actually don’t share any genes—my biological father is from Syria and not German like my foster parents, who were sitting at the table with me.

The background of my performance, moving image, and installation work is very much about how we see things and how we construct our perception on the basis of our experiences—in relation to others but also in relation to the new media technologies increasingly saturating our everyday lives. In my piece “Like Father, Like Son” (2017), for instance, I use photography to construct new families, that only exist for the brief period of the camera’s exposure. More than in the resulting images, I was interested in the social situation produced by the act of taking these pictures, how and for what reasons new alliances were formed and took shape as visual tableaux. With these collaborative works, I investigate contemporary belief systems through echoing, altering, and dispersing explanation models in order to explore possibilities for community and co-existence.

Realizing that my best ideas come from experience, circumstance, and life itself, I try to get a new start with each project—instead of working on a recognizable aesthetic. These ideas are situated, they change shape and develop in conversation with people, thy enter a dialog with the environments they emerge from. While cooperation and dialogue has been a driving force of my work throughout the last years, with my current projects I started to cooperate not only with people but also with various intelligent systems: What can we learn about our perception by watching how machines interpret the world? The film "I'm Not Sure" (2017) shows how an app that was developed as a visual aid for the blind interprets works of art; in “Looking at a Zebra” (2018) a similar app appears to be the director of the video; and in my piece "Father's Face" (2018), an Artificial Intelligence translates my mother's memory of my Syrian father into a visual image of his face.

With these works, I hope to contribute to a dialogue not only about technology and its political implications (e.g. who decides for what reasons which data is relevant, what is to be seen or considered as noise?) but also about art and its potentials to transcend the limitations of our technological imaginary. What does it mean to be a social being in the face of current technological developments?

© Gabriel Hensche 2019