András Kapitány was born in a small Transylvanian village. Around the regime change he moved to Budapest, where he graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts. Recently he settled in New York. Dealing with the challenges of moving to new places, adapting to new environments and linguistic differences have made him wise. He has insight into large systems through personal experience. Not unlike the classical scientists (astronomer, physicist) Kapitány explores the world with microscopic meticulousness and from a bird’s eye view. He projects the world, puts it to canvas and digitally records the systems that make the universe go round. Even as a child he was enchanted by the order of straw under his father’s scythe.
The expression “parasite” in the title of the exhibition refers to the idea of “construction by deconstruction”. A parasite is an organism that feeds on an existing, developed host, transforming but not entirely destroying that host. It is unable to live independently from the host, and depends on the life form to which it attaches. It is tiny, almost imperceptible, yet it keeps transubstantiating its environment. Through minute physical or digital openings it penetrates the alien form, which it alters to its taste, in order to feed on it for a long time. Kapitány believes the artist is in such a dependent relationship with other artists. But is there not a pure source, a force that is independent of others and which directs the artist towards the uniqueness of creation?
To what extent is man and his environment part of Kapitány’s works? He believes that our synthetic, glass-like world is only on the surface dominated by man. What we see on the canvases are mirror images of our subordination. But where have we gone, what has happened to us? Can we once more take our place in the universe and perhaps on the canvas. “Kapitány’s hypothesis models speak for themselves. They explain something whose description would require at least 11 dimensions, but he can do it by animating a set of 25 sticks. Moreover, growing the membranes – the ‘parasitic surfaces’ – starting out from the intersections [...] is an experiment with which Kapitány hits the up-to-date trends of contemporary architecture. Accident?”1 Is there an analogy between the plant stalks dropping under the scythe, the stick-networks and urban structures? “A megastructure growing like a plant? Low-tech skyscrapers or high-tech wetware organisms? It is hard to keep pace; we do not know which is up and which is down. With his crystal-organic formations, András Kapitány returns to the world outside computers, and seeks to explore the forms and means of expression of materiality determined by the laws of physics. He defines himself as an artist researching the future architectural idiom. His sculptural constructions are particularly topical in that they explore the issue of surface division in disordered structures. Disordered structures and surface division happen to be the focus of digital architectural research. [...] Implanting the simulation existing on screen into reality, however, is a costly matter. András Kapitány [...] reverses the procedure and experiments with real materials instead of digital ones; and seeks to digitise these experiments. He once more shows the path to conceive of, and create, our built environment by means of methods outside of the digital world.”2 And that is just what he did, and partnered up with other architects to participate in architectural competitions.
World-famous physicist Albert László Barabási, researcher of network theory, wrote, “[...] We have discovered the laws of gravity, making the Moon accessible to us. Unfortunately, the revolution of the Enlightenment came to an end at the gates of the natural sciences, and never entered an area that has become so important today, specifically the operation of the individual and society. The behaviour of our fellow humans never ceases to surprise us, and is as mysterious to us today as the movement of the stars was to fifteenth-century man. At other times it seems that no matter how free our will is, it is as if most of our life was governed by an automaton. [...] We need to consider what hidden laws humans follow other than those made by themselves.” He goes on to answer the rhetorical question by saying, “The closer we observe the actions of humans, the clear it becomes that they follow simple patters that can be reconstructed, governed by comprehensive laws. Casting a die or raffle as the metaphors of our life can just as well be forgotten. We should think of ourselves as dreaming robots on automatic pilot, and that is much closer to the truth.”3
Kapitány is an artist who thinks along these lines. Barabási is unsurprised that artists keep thinking in terms of networks, since art is none other than an language like scientific language, which describes our nature, environment and society.4 Today the world is a network of relations, which are becoming increasingly important in art, too.
Éva Markovits, curator of the exhibition
1 Szegő, György: “Kapitány András (nem) építészete : avagy a (non) architecture” [The (non) architecture of András Kapitány] in Új Művészet 2008/1.
2 Botzheim, Bálint: “Visszatérés-kísérlet: a digitálisból az analógba” [An experiment in returning from digital to analogue] in Magyar Építőművészet 2009/4.
3 Barabási, Albert-László: Villanások – a jövő kiszámítható [Flashes: the future is predicatable]. Libri, Budapest, 2016.
4 See Barabási, Albert-László’s Sfântu Gheorghe talk “A világhálótól a művészeti hálókig” [From the world wide web to artistic webs], 04.06.2017, https://vimeo.com/224668143 (last downloaded: 20.01.2018)