Exploring the seminal work of ninth century Uzbek scientist and mathematician, Muhammad ibn Musa al-Khwārizmī. The exhibition, Dixit Algorizmi unpacks the influence of the polymath’s work on today’s technological acceleration, modern day culture, and Western innovation. Featuring projects based on algorithmic processes and cooperation between artists, masters of traditional crafts and artificial intelligence.
Dixit Algorizmi is an experiment in historiography.
It takes as its starting point the figure of Muhammad ibn Mūsā al-Khwārizmī (c. 780 – c. 850), a polymath born and raised in Khiva whose works in mathematics, astronomy, and geography were vastly influential. Around 820 CE he was appointed as the chief astronomer and head of the library of the House of Wisdom in Baghdad, the most important centre of scientific research of its time, where he spent the last three decades of his life and produced his most important work.
Traces of his work can be detected to this day in countless branches of the sciences, from astronomy to cartography — but al-Khwārizmī’s influence on the present goes far deeper than this. Translated into Latin in the Middle Ages, the title of his book on arithmetic was Latinized as Dixit Algorizmi (“Thus Spake Al-Khwārizmī”), and went on to provide the basis for the emergence of the field of computer science and al-Khwārizmī’s Latinized name gave us a word we associate perhaps more than any other with the technological revolutions of the present era: algorithm.
Today, algorithms touch all dimension of our existence. They are the fundamental building blocks of every moment of interaction with those technologies that shape daily life — technologies, we have been led to believe, whose origin story is both western and modern, fruit of a “culture of innovation” which would have been unthinkable in a time or place other than the garages of California in the second half of the 20th century.
It is a heroic origin story, frequently inspired by the libertarian and hyper-individualist worldview of ideologues such as Ayn Rand, and it has little interest in acknowledging the work of a 9th century Asian scholar whose primary ambition was to provide the people of his time with a convenient mathematical instrument to accurately calculate the division of inheritances and other daily problems. Problems which, thanks to his work, we now consider trivial. There is no monument to al-Khwārizmī in Silicon Valley.
Taking the figure of al-Khwārizmī as its starting point, this exhibition sets out to revisit the myths and misconceptions embedded in the technologies we surround ourselves with. Through the work of a group of artists, designers, and theorists of diverse origin, it attempts to suggest the possibility of an alternative reading of history — a reading in which technology is not exclusively Western and, most importantly, not separate in its origins from art, history and life, but entangled with them, in all their complexity.
In recognition of the fact that the history of human progress is not a linear story of individual heroism but the result of complex webs of knowledge spread across generations, many of the works in this exhibition are the fruit of collaboration between the participating artists and craftspeople or musicians who hold and represent the legacy of Uzbeki cultural history
In this sense, it is a polyphonic reflection on the complexity of contemporary culture— and an invitation to embrace a more complex narrative of its origins.
Space Caviar (Joseph Grima, Camilo Oliveira)
co-curated by Sheida Ghomashchi
Saodat Ismailova & CCA Lab
James Bridle & Bakhtiyor Babamuradov
Navine G. Khan-Dossos & Margilan crafts development center
Elisa Giardina Papa
Studio Folder (Marco Ferrari, Elisa Pasqual, Letizia Bernardelli, Molly Davies, Serena Gramaglia)
Communication & PR:
Alpha Kilo Ltd
Saida Mirziyoyeva - Deputy Chairman of the Council of the Art and Culture Development Foundation under the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Uzbekistan
Art and Culture Development Foundation
Gayane Umerova - Executive Director of Art and Culture Development Foundation under the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Uzbekistan.
From 04 October to 15 November 2021
Centre for Contemporary ArtsTashkent, Uzbekistan