Critical Art Ensemble: Disturbances


“For a rising generation of artists and intellectuals across the world, disabused of their illusions, fully aware of the transnational powers of the corporate state, and filled with the desire to make any knowledge they acquire directly useful to people on the ground, the twenty-five-year run of Critical Art Ensemble will be a great inspiration.”
–Brian Holmes, from his Introduction

We are pleased to announce the design of Disturbances, our first book with independent art publisher Four Corners Books. Disturbances assesses the work of Critical Art Ensemble, a group which, since its formation in 1987, has set out to explore the intersections between art, critical theory, technology and political activism. CAE operate as a tactical media collective in a number of fields including computer graphics and web design, film/video, photography, text art, book art and performance. Their work covers environmental, political, and bio-technological themes and has has exhibited and performed in a variety of venues internationally, including the Whitney Museum and The New Museum in NYC; The Corcoran Museum in Washington D.C.; The ICA, London; The MCA, Chicago; Schirn Kunsthalle, Frankfurt; Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris; and The London Museum of Natural History.

One key aspect of CAE’s practice is performance. Drawing inspiration directly from specific CAE projects, we imagined this book as a piece of performance art. In projects such as GenTerra and Target Deception, CAE assumed the role of a group of scientists. The slip-case in which the book presented, assumes the look of an scientific/academic journal, whilst also drawing on the aesthetic of pharmaceutical packaging and biohazard waste disposal products. The cover features an image of CAE performing Radiation Burn: A Temporary Monument to Public Safety, a perfect metaphor for CAE’s spectacularly subversive practice.

Central to the appeal of CAE is their ability to use science and technology in an engaging and thought-provoking manner. With this in mind we set out to create a playful and accessible document of their history, tinged with the aesthetic of pharmacology and biotechnology.

Each project in the book is presented by the group itself, covering everything from their early live multimedia productions; to their development of models of electronic civil disobedience, digital resistance, and contestational biology and ecology; to their most recent tactical media projects.

Disturbances will be launched at a special one off event tonight at the The Arts Catalyst in Clerkenwell, London. For more information on stockists and other books in their collection please visit the Four Corners Books’ website.