QUESTION ABOUT QUESTION
Knowledge Cloud + What do we know?
Höller takes knowledge literally – he scours books from various disciplines for that one word: knowledge. Books dealing with questions of ethics, society, the universe, economy and faith. The artist appropriates this knowledge by cutting it out and saving it in his personal “Knowledge Cloud“. What results is a cloud-shaped collage, which can be understood as the visualization of digital knowledge. The cloud depicts the chaos of virtual knowledge, which can only be used once one learns to ask the right questions.
Next to it stands a paradoxical sculpture of the books whose knowledge was precisely cut out word for word with a Stanley knife. The collective knowledge has been freed from its original context and the knowledgeless books balance on the edge. While the knowledge cloud continues to swell, one only finds holes in the paper where knowledge once was. But what does this mean, what is knowledge? Standards of knowledge change, knowledge is relative and lively, like our language itself.
Knowledge and faith are closer than science and religion. You cannot have knowledge without faith. Only one who believes in his ideas can reach understanding, and what then becomes understanding will later also become knowledge. Here too the books do not remain unscathed. Höller not only removes all knowledge, but faith as well. The words “knowledge“ and “faith“ from the books of faith of the five world relgions are arranged in piles next to each other. The form that results from comparing the two word across different books of faith is itself significant in what it reveals. Nevertheless, Höller isn’t conducting research, but rather takes apart the contents without focusing on a particular assertion.
The filtering of single words is something very current. Complex themes are broken down into individual words and are spread through the media. This is how content is lost. And it is also true here: there is not just black and white, but also a million shades of grey in between.
The idea of the polymath dates back to antiquity. If one was informed in the seven liberal arts (lat. septem artes liberales), he commanded a broad basic knowledge in grammar, rhetoric, logic, arithmetic, geometry, music and astronomy. Höller chose an exemplary key work from each of the seven liberal arts to begin his search for all of the question marks. This is how the artist, book for book, filtered through all of the open questions from the basic knowledge of mankind. Principia Mathematica (Russel/ Whitehead, 1910) was the only work without questions – mathematics is not considered absolute logic for nothing. All of the books’ questions have left their original position. Only knowledge remains. Books and image turn into a confrontation of knowledge and lack of knowledge. The questions from mankind’s accumulated basic knowledge are ultimately presented as stars of our universe. The question mark’s position is actually determined by the position of stars in a picture of the universe taken with the Hubble Space Telescope. Each of the more than 10,000 question marks becomes a fixed place in our universe, and the questions shine like stars in the sky.
Potential visions of the future from 28 science ficition books converge into one point. Lines of text come from each book and all ideas about the future concentrate in the blue eye of the oracle. In the search for answers, oracles have served to cryptically answer questions about the future or decisions since antiquity. When knowledge reaches its limit and it is suddenly no longer about logic, then we turn to a symbol of religous or pagan origin. The reflection in the eye of the oracle allows for contemplation about the past and future and suggests one thing: the answers one seeks lay within. According to the philosopher Machiavelli, one must first look to the past in order to see the future. These books do not deal with fantasy, but rather with a possible development of our societal reality. When looking into the eye of the oracle, the question of reality, fact or fiction arises. However, Höller’s oracle does not give us any anwers, instead it sets questions loose into the space.
Books broaden our knowledge little by little, so each book can be seen as one more step. Höller’s “Book Loop” presents a sort of unending spiral, a small cross-‐section of an endless spiral staircase made from the classics of world literature. The loop theoretically never ends – it is a perpetual circulation of books, which are considered formative for modern society. The knowledge contained in them is without a specific beginning or end. The more we know, the more we know about what we do not know. So does our knowledge really grow? Or are we constantly spinning around the same axis as this book loop?