Garden of the Past, Garden of the Future, 2018, Video, 4.44min

The title “Garden of the Past, Garden of the Future” refers to two courtyards designed by artist and landscape architect Isamu Noguchi for the IBM Corporate Headquarters in Armonk New York (1964-65). The south courtyard garden was conceived to “symbolize mankind’s past”, conjuring an imaginary “pastoral setting…of the ages preceding the Industrial Revolution”; the northern courtyard was constructed to evoke a feeling of moving into the future, and featured a sculpture that was carved with diagrams of abstractions of nuclear formations, galaxies and computer circuitry alluding to “man’s knowledge and control of the universe”. The celebrated driving force behind this colonization of the future, of course, was IBM, with their singular goal of “controlling, organizing and redistributing information in space”.

Within this context, the video, which utilises the format of a slideshow of still images aims to disrupt the carefully crafted and curated corporate image of IBM by juxtaposing pictures of “official” IBM corporate history with photographs alluding to IBM’s secret past, it’s central role in creating and supplying technology that facilitated the Nazi genocide – from identification and cataloguing programs of the 1930s to the selections and extermination campaigns of the 1940s.

From an expanded point of view, the video also aims to discuss the parallels and relationship between the mechanisms of bureaucracy, technology and fascism: detached efficiency, rational compartmentalisation, rigid rules, and a formal hierarchical structure of organisation. This is symbolically alluded to via images of clean cut, modern office furniture juxtaposed with classicist fascist architecture.

The soundtrack accompanying the slideshow is composed of samples of static, error signals and other mechanical sounds woven into an abstract soundscape that aims to evoke a subtle sense of unease, foreboding, and claustrophobia.