The Hard Problem
Works by Sara Coffin and Dani Levine
On view at Abrons Art Center June 5th- June 23, 2018
The problem has been around for a very long time.
In The Character of Consciousness philosopher and cognitive scientist David Chalmers defines The Hard Problem* as those that resist standard methods of thought. More specifically, hard problems are problems that arise out of an attempt to explain experience; whereas easy problems can be defined by established methods of reasoning.
I'm tired, i've been walking all day.........Easy
This cube reminds me of Costco...........Hard
These types of problems are ambiguous and refer to many different phenomena though their effect is resolute.
Across disciplines, problems that assume to be irresolvable often get ignored. Since experience is sensual, perceptual, emotional, intellectual, embracing these intractable connections may be misguided. The Hard Problem would say: “even if something seems impossible to know we must develop a new way to understand it”.
Sara Coffin and Dani Levine both work with distinct methods of reasoning. Things are measured, balanced, weighed, tested. Colors are matched or suspended. Surfaces are scouted and developed. But the work always exceeds its parameters knowing an accumulation will occur. In a single-minded push forward, revelation only appears when all pieces align where they were meant to be. For them, the explanatory gap between function and experience is necessary in order to make the work complete. The gap (the experience, The Hard Problem) makes the methods insufficient to understanding.
*Chalmers, David J. The Character of Consciousness. Oxford University Press, 2010.
Photo credit to: Walker Olesen and Res