Comment on: Verena Friedrich, ERBSENZÄHLER Quality Sorter V2

Cognitive Ensembles
On the precarious relationship between technology, man and nature
by Georg Trogemann

Download full Text as PDF (german): Cognitive-Ensembles.pdf

How do we make decisions today, under the conditions of socio-technical systems? This question is at the center of the installation EZ Quality Sorter V2 by Verena Friedrich. Visitors approaching the installation are invited to take a seat and look at peas through a microscope. By pressing a red or green button, their quality is to be judged, where „red“ means the pea is sorted out and „green“, it is deemed good and transported to the container for further processing. When the visitor leaves the plant, it automatically continues the sorting process based on the past decisions. A previously undistinguished set of peas is divided by the ongoing decision process into two classes, „good“ and „bad“ peas. A simple thing then, make your decision, then you can leave. By no means! The technically elaborate installation lets its audience experience something important. In the following I try to give this subjective aesthetic experience a socio-technical framework and to contextualize it. Today, we are participants:inside a wide variety of technologically shaped cognitive and decision-making ensembles. Algorithmic and human actors together form complex socio-technical configurations whose structures of decision-making remain mostly intransparent. Moreover, one’s own scope for action and decision-making within these technical arrangements is usually very limited.

Foto: © Tom Mesic