Exhibit / February 7, 2017
The HEXEN 2.0 Tarot deck was designed by artist Suzanne Treister as an exploration of the postwar/Cold War cybernetic consensus, its antecedents, and its descendants. Inspired by the meeting of the minds at the Macy Conferences on cybernetics from 1946-1953, Treister uses the symbology of the Tarot to explore how fields as seemingly disparate as philosophy, computer science, psychological research, the defense establishment, futurism, and utopian visions from technogaianism to anarcho-primitivism play a part in our present-day control culture.
A variety of influential thinkers and theories appear in the deck, from mainstream establishment government, intelligence, and military figures to academics and counterculture icons. The deck’s subjects illustrate the fact that the lines between the mainstream and the counterculture were especially porous, especially when bleeding-edge technology and social theory were concerned. Competing visions of the future from the revolutionary ’60s merge as the cybernetic consensus finds its apex in the formation of the Internet in the ’90s. Here was a system, created by military and government funding, but first “settled” by anti-establishment thinkers. The deck suggests that the revolutionary promise of the Internet is now fully in the hands of private industry, all watched over by machines of government surveillance (the deck’s “Queen of Pentacles”).
The deck was created as part of an art project called HEXEN 2.0, which has appeared in dozens of galleries over the past few years, most recently at the Victoria & Albert Museum’s “You Say You Want a Revolution? Records and Rebels 1966-1970” exhibit. The deck is also available as a standard 78-card Tarot deck from Black Dog Publishing.