Benjamin A. H. Harpsøe : “On Technology and Spirituality”

Technopagan art has been touched on briefly before, with a Master’s thesis at NYU. Our next artist hails instead from Denmark. Benjamin A. H. Harpsøe sits down with interviewer Cybil Scott to explain his thesis for his Bachelor’s in Fine Arts:

Cybil Scott- Tell me about your work for your recent graduation show.

benBenjamin Harpsøe – The recent work at graduation was about the relationship between spirituality and technology. They are often considered to be opposite, but I find them similar because they fill a lot of the same spaces as a way to socially educate a populus. If you take shamanism, which is what I wrote my thesis on, when you commit transgressions about the religious rules put forth by the shaman or the shamanistic society, it has a direct effect on your tribe’s health, say whether you can for example, catch any fish. And then if you take the digital space and social media and commit a transgression against the rules there, you’re also penalized and you lose your position in the attention economy. In both instances there’s a subconscious education of the individual that goes on. I feel like they overlap a lot more than people give it credit for.

So the show at the KABK consisted of several different works. ‘Synergy’ was a video of me playing a prayer bowl from Nepal next to an iphone playing the sound of an old modem connecting to the internet. They harmonize really well together!

‘Confluence’ was a shaman’s drum suspended off the wall and I made a motor with an automated drumstick that would tap it every 7.5 seconds so it would have this repetitive monotonous beat. The drumstick was on these two poles on a big hill of clay with some incense stuck in it, so it was like an animist altar, along with a little mask made in plaster. My premise being that the drum was, at some point in our evolution, the pinnacle of technology because we used it both to induce these altered states of consciousness but also because we used it to record our shared history. Medicine men and shamans would use this kind drum to access altered states of consciousness. The drum was something we used to record our history, and during healing ceremonies. Before we were a literary species we used the drum and gathered around in a circle to sing and storytell in a way to record our shared past.


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