Piotr Szyhalski, Ding an Sich
“Ding an sich is unknowable though certainly existing, providing a unique angle for the contemplation of art in general, and specifically the relationships between artists, audiences, and the work itself.”
Ding an sich
Ding an sich (The Canon Series) is an artwork by Piotr Szyhalski. It consists of a series of 12 “canons,” which respond to the user’s touch to create individual interactive experiences. Together the 12 canons comprise Ding an sich, which translates as “the thing itself,” a philosophical concept defined by Immanuel Kant in his Critique of Pure Reason as “the reality of the thing–the essence beyond the knowledge of appearances.” According to Szyhalski “Ding an sich is unknowable though certainly existing, providing a unique angle for the contemplation of art in general, and specifically the relationships between artists, audiences, and the work itself.”
When Piotr Szyhalski’s Ding an sich came out almost 20 years ago, the New York Times said: “Szyhalski’s user-controlled creation is deeply involving and richly allusive. It is his most fully realized work to date and one of the most accomplished pieces of art on the Web.” Since then, like the street cars that ran along the streets of Minneapolis or Saint Paul’s Union Depot, early net art projects like Ding an sich have been in a state of digital decline, no longer fully accessible because of changes in the Internet’s infrastructure and protocols. Read more about Ding an sich here.
With the support of an innovation grant from the National Endowment for the arts, in collaboration with the Weisman Art Museum and the Walker Art Center, a dedicated team at Northern Lights.mn and our partners, working with programmer Tyler Stefanich, recuperated Ding an sich as a free app for the iPad.
Once the app was downloaded, no Internet access was required to experience Ding an sich, except for the video interview with the artist and other “extras.” The app was designed to be accessible for hearing and sight impaired users with voice over and closed captioning.
Ding an sich was first commissioned by the Walker Art Center in 1996 for its online Gallery 9. For this version, Northern Lights.mn, the Weisman Art Museum, and the Walker have collaborated with the artist to create an app of the work with support from the National Endowment for the Arts.