Thoughts & Insights

Where are we human beings heading to? Some reflections on the OUBEY Symposium in San Francisco

As human consciousness develops, which direction is it taking? When and how will artificial intelligence became a genuine strong factor with a real impact on our lives on this planet? Will we be able to prolong our life span indefinitely by ‘hacking’ into the biological code – and what would be the consequences? Is there such a thing as extraterrestrial intelligence and if there is, what – if anything – would it find interesting in our human race? What shape will the cosmos take in the next ten billion years?

For many of us today questions such as these still seem to belong securely in the realm of science fiction. And yet even so the mind-boggling speed at which scientific research has been advancing over the past few years, unbeknownst to us in the background of our lives, is bringing what we might be familiar with as science fiction fantasy ever closer to our reality and the future in the next decades of our lives.

And questions such as these were the issues dealt with by the outstanding group of scientists who contributed to the OUBEY Symposium held on 20 October 2012 at the Goethe Institute in San Francisco. Their inspirational talks were broadcast per livestream on the internet and gave not only the local audience but viewers across the whole world excitingly fresh insights which could lead to a new level of knowledge and hopefully also to joy in a new kind of understanding.


From left to right: Joe Betts-Lacroix, Dagmar Woyde-Koehler, Jeanette Neustadt (Moderator), Dr. Seth Shostak, Peter Erlenwein, Nina McCurdy

OUBEYs art was also produced in a permanent quest for answers to these kinds of questions. It always seemed obvious to him that there was not, nor could there ever be, one single final answer – that any answer to any one question would in its turn simply throw up the next question.

One of the questions which was dear to him as an artist was how could he express in art his own way of perception shaped by his study of (natural) sciences and philosophy, and in particular how could he express that deep sense of joy such new knowledge and understanding gave him, and express it in such a way that through a resilient, enduring and carefully planned process that he himself conceived, people encountering his art would gain an added level of insight and understanding that was both personal and pleasurable – and which mirrored his own voyage of discovery when painting his pictures.

When, impelled by the restless curiosity of their enquiring minds, outstanding scientists share their perspectives on the future with other people, and when they in common all link such views to OUBEYs art and share them with others across the globe via the internet, a collective spirit is born which – I would like to think – is very close to what OUBEY thought and felt when he coined the term MINDKISS as the title for his first and only exhibition. This at least was very much my feeling during the OUBEY Symposium in San Francisco and this event for me was one of the most beautiful, intense and encouraging experiences it has been my privilege to make in this project so far.

View the livestream of the symposium at up from 20 November.