Fari Shams’ project European Civilization Peter the Great and the Order of Things presents itself in various ways: as art installation (2014), a post-Internet speculative data calculator, and finally in the form of a book. The artist took the risk of confronting big data strategies, by dissolving the borders between objective/subjective, text/image, and archive/algorithm with respect to historical systems of classification. From alphabetisation to Diderot’s Enclyclopedia and Adanson’s classification of plants in Senegal; each attempt at organising knowledge, though obsolete for today’s science, generates unexpected connections and iconographies in its contemporary re-processing. The three essays published here take this work as a starting point for travelling the space of human culture that always seeks to delineate and classify in order to understand and eventually take control.
Fari Shams is an artist living and working in Düsseldorf and London.