Cathleen Schuster & Marcel Dickhage

The Paradox of the Speculative

Speculation (from the Latin “speculari” to peer, to observe; to peer into the distance from a raised standpoint) is a term used in everyday language as well as being an economic method and a philosophical way of thinking. Speculation has many forms: speculation on (intellectual) insight, on an invention, on unknown constellations, on love, on a crime suspect, or on money and possessions. Speculation is a paradox, the potentials of which can be progressive and regressive to equal degrees. Misguided speculation is capable of triggering strong reactions, even to the extent of global protest waves, and can topple economies into depression—one of the extensively documented aspects of contemporary speculation. In their work, Schuster & Dickhage were interested in how a possible representation of speculation may be arrived at, or rather, to what extent it is possible to facilitate an artistic opening of the concept for its (re-)appropriation by the viewer. This artistic interest in speculation lies in its current relevance, its potential possible recurrence and in problems of equivalence. If the speculative itself is not obligated to any equivalence, is it at all possible to produce an artistic equivalent to it? Or is an obligation to equivalence conceptually out of date, or invalid? How can an opening of the concept of the speculative (as opposed to dogmatic criticism) be achieved, so creating space for the viewer to re(appropriate) the concept for him or herself? In their previous investigations, Schuster & Dickhage had first examined the history of speculation on the basis of statements about the subject by various authors from the Middle Ages to the present day. The research in Büchsenhausen took place in a parallel close exchange of theoretical ideas resulting in a film (Layers) as well as a publication (Two or Three Scripted Loops on the Paradox of the Speculative).

Cathleen Schuster & Marcel Dickhage (both *1977) have been working together as artists since 2001 and live in Berlin. Their artistic work reveals a keen interest in the contemporary, evolving of dialogues; it could be termed a critical generation of form. Their conceptual approach manifests itself in time based media and text/picture montages.