Josh Kline (b. 1979) was born in Philadelphia; he now lives and works in New York, as a curator, collaborator and artist.
Josh Kline aligns his art with the philosophy of post-humanism. Spanning a wide variety of media with specific focus upon the technologically innovative, his art has an ergonomic sensibility. It is centred upon the ability of humanity to function efficiently within its working environment, with corporeality being marginalised in favour of digital expressions of selfhood.
The beating heart of his work is found in the human obsession with an abstract future and the obsessive desire to project onto this imagined existence. It is quintessentially sci-fi that exists as an expression of the contemporaneous obsession with progression; it is a statement of art’s ability to exist at the frontiers of scientific advancement and simultaneously a warning against the potential to strip one’s humanity away to better function within a technocratic society. Kline opposes the often-held belief that technological progress is necessarily positive. There appears to be a commodification of the individual, forced to operate as a near superhuman machine, enhanced by caffeinated drinks, drugs and accessories. In his work human productivity is improved at the cost of ones humanity: technological progress comes to serve societal means over the personal and creates a society, which enables the production of commodities that do not truly benefit the masses.
There is an interesting duality in Kline’s work, as the strongly theoretical foundation marries itself to the concrete world it inhabits. There is a tendency to circumnavigate artistic intellectualism and to ignore its inherent historicity. As a result his oeuvre opens a discussion which transcends the art industry, contextualising the works in terms of the present, and this is reflected in his curatorial practice. Integral to understanding his work as an expression of post-humanist theory, is an attempt to escape from the past. His work exists within the expanding intersection between the sterile syntheticism of technological progression and the primordial corporeality of base human existence; it is an expression of the modern obsession with mass media replication and the importance of digitisation.
This idea is best noted in the contrast between his works, such as Living Wages that features bacterial cultures continually reproducing, and his sculptures, such as Ready to Wear, that are so easily reproduced by 3D printing techniques. These two contrasting elements represent a real human fear, embodied within the principle of bacterial fission. These living sculptures can only reproduce to the point that there are available growth factors; once these diminish the bacteria also dissipates. This is a warning against the industrial reproduction of technology that consumes great amounts of human and inorganic resources; if it is not carefully monitored and managed, it can potentially approach an apocalyptic teleology. In this way Kline’s work questions the technological juggernaut as an entity that endangers existentialist humanism.