Henrik Olesen is a contemporary German artist that has devoted several groups of works to the inventor of the binary code and computer pioneer, Alan Turing (1912 - 1954). In his collage edition, “A.T.” (2012), Olesen illustrates the transfer of binary abstraction onto the mathematicians’ physical and mental integrity. The work addresses our own bodies and the bodies of others, as well as the biological and mechanical production of bodies and the space around them.
Turing was Britain's’ most brilliant cryptanalyst during the second world war, he’s formally known for breaking the Nazi fleets code known as “
”. The tragic heart of the Turing story comes down to the fact that his sexual preference was considered a national security risk by the “British Intelligence Community”. The mathematician and computer scientist was forced by his government to take synthetic hormones to allegedly treat his homosexuality. This bizzare clinical experiment resulting in chemical castration, happened in the years following the second world war.
Olesen illustrates Turing's biography through the use of collage, incorporating text, binary code, visual imagery of mechanical instruments and graphic lines and symbolism. Within “A.T.” (2012), Olesens portrayal of Turing by using such mediums and techniques, embodies a coherent lack of social justice, illustrating the boundaries, histories and social phobias of the 20th Century.
The visual equations running throughout Olesens “A.T.” series act as an empowering narrative, depicting an interlock of sexuality and materiality. Throughout Olesens use of photomontage, he deliberately blends photographic portraits with a carefree sense of ownership, by adding text and imagery. This creates a disposable element to the series of work, mirroring how Turing more than likely felt before his suicide.
Written by: Ciara Doherty