Max de Esteban is an artist working mostly in photography and video whose work is best known for his examination of the human condition under a technological regime.
Since 2016 he is working on a long-term research on the infrastructures of contemporaneity. Each project is the result of the collaboration of purpose-built networks of people who share their knowledge, artistic visions and personal experiences.
This long-term research is based on three tenets of Max’s artistic practice: Art is a source of knowledge: knowledge today requires an inter-disciplinary approach that considers science, technology, economy, philosophy and aesthetics. Art is a collective effort: the complexity of contemporary world makes it impossible for an individual to master all the required knowledge. Art is about sharing: exhibitions, objects, images, videos, texts, books, on-line archives, seminars, and group discussions are the artistic tools for knowledge sharing and collective critical thinking.
As the 20th century cannot be understood without the infrastructures that made it possible, the project aspires to survey the key infrastructures that will define the 21st century and unveil their ideological nature.
For the purpose of this research, infrastructures are defined as the key technologies, systems and physical conditions that enable the circulation of meaning and power.
This expanded definition includes technologies (e.g. communications), systems (e.g. Fordism) and physical conditions (e.g. fossil energy availability). But it also points to something that is frequently missed: what infrastructures really do is frame and enable what is possible. Infrastructures are the determinants of the conditions of possibility; in other words, they are the enablers of the circulation of meaning and power and as such, set the limits of our imagination.
Understanding how these infrastructures operate and unveiling their ideological nature might contribute to the development of new collective dreams and aspirations.
The first work of this long-term project is 20 RED LIGHTS (2017), which analyzes Financial Capitalism as the dominant contemporary infrastructure for the allocation of economic resources. The second work is A FOREST (2019), which examines Artificial Intelligence and reflects upon the implications of this technology and the ideological frameworks under which it operates. Max de Esteban’s latest work, WHITE NOISE (2020), deals with Extinction, arguably the defining structural condition of the 21st century.