Radical Immersions

Navigating between virtual/physical environments and information bubbles
Over the past years, immersive technologies have been hyped as consumer gadgets, entertainment media and the future of exhibition practices. The free distribution of VR (Virtual Reality) headsets with smartphones and the increasing interest of museums, festivals and other cultural organisers towards ‘immersive digital content’ have quickly turned VR and AR (Augumented Reality) devices and applications into widely recognised cultural artefacts. However, just like many earlier ‘new media’ before them, the hyperbolic promises attached to these technologies’ supposed capacity to deliver immediacy and trigger a paradigm shift in media culture have thus far hardly become reality. Meanwhile, social media platforms enable the formation of communities where members immerse themselves in networks of alternate facts and realities where conspiracy theories thrive in what at times appear to be alternate rationalities.
The group exhibition engages critically with ideas, practices and beliefs of immersion in relation to digital culture and new media. It will run in parallel with this year’s DIGITAL RESEARCH IN THE HUMANITIES & ARTS (DRHA) conference, which will address the same theme and take place from 8-10 September.
List of works:
Predictive Art Bot by disnovation.org
Installation, 2017
An algorithm that turns the latest media headlines into artistic concepts.
In the age of hyper connectivity, the perverse implications of media echo chambers are becoming more and more obvious. Groups of similar behaviors are being partitioned in filter bubbles, while the few massively reposted topics tends to monopolize most of the available attention. Such insular echo chambers strongly affect ways of thinking, resulting in increasingly homogeneous imaginaries within groups of like-minded people.
Predictive Art Bot caricatures the predictability of media influenced artistic concepts, by automating and skirting the human creative process. But beyond mere automation, it aims to stimulate unbridled, counter-intuitive and even disconcerting associations of ideas.
To do so, it continually monitors emerging trends among the most influential news sources in fields as heterogeneous as politics, environment, innovation, culture, activism, or health… On this basis, it identifies and combines keywords to generate concepts of artworks in a fully automated way, ranging from unreasonable to prophetic through absurd. Each prediction becomes a thought experiment waiting to be incubated, misused or appropriated by a human host.
The Model Worker by Claudia Dutson
VR Installation, 2018
The Campuses of Facebook, Apple and Google are unprecedented in their scale – a single room containing up to 2800 workers, a single building with 12,000 people, a vast tent-like canopy above 3000 employees. The VR installation is made to immerse the subject inside the model of the Facebook campus – this is an architectural model, a management model and a model of subjectivity – of the model workplace and the model employee.
Center for Technological Pain by Dasha Ilina
Installation, 2018
Center for Technological Pain (CTP) is a mock company that offers DIY and open source solutions to solve health problems caused by digital technologies such as smartphones and laptops. Among the prototypes developed by the Center are mechanical eye shields that reduce eye-strain, a headset to free the user’s hands, an insomnia-free box and various more or less absurd contraptions to relieve technologically-induced pain. The center also offers DIY manuals on how to build low-tech accessories from cheap materials. CTP further questions the negative effects of technology by adapting self-defense techniques to fight this contemporary addiction through illustrated leaflets and an instructional video. Center for Technological Pain questions the society’s current obsession with handheld devices and their effects on the human body, as well as the mental state.
The lips, the lisp, the slip of the tongue by Danae Io
Video, 2018
The video explores processes of voice modelling, voice donation, algorithmic prediction and the incomputable. The work brings in parallel the process of modelling the mouth to the process of modelling the voice. It questions modelling as a scientific/technological method, by considering it reality-producing rather than merely an observational tool. What leaks from the model? Can the multiplicity and complexity of the voice be contained in an algorithmic model?
Controlling_Connectivity by Gretta Louw
Video, performance documentation, 2011
Controlling_Connectivity was a durational online performance and self-experiment that began in 2011. At the Art Laboratory Berlin gallery, Louw was closed off from the outside world – no sunlight, no visitors, no breaks – except for constant contact via the internet. At a time when the utopian potential of social media was being hyped and years before the Cambridge Analytica revelations, Louw sought to test the psychological and physical effects of our connectivity fetish. For 10 days, she was constantly available via Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Google Hangout, Second Life, and Skype – the range of platforms alone showing how dramatically and how rapidly the social media landscape shifts – for contact, conversation, and questions by performance participants from around the world. What followed was a surprisingly deep series of musing conversations with a varied group of participants about the nature of social media and how it might change society, communication, psychology, and politics whilst sleep deprivation and physical degradation visibly creep in to the artist’s experience.
Dissection Of a Disappearing Cloud (Indifference & repetition #2)
by Hans Overvliet
Installation, 2019
On August 9 2018, the Said al-Mishal Cultural Center in Gaza City was obliterated in a bomb strike by the Israel Defence Forces. For people outside the Gaza Strip, this incident was mainly perceived as a media event, embedded in a web of interrelated and often conflicting political interests. From these external perspectives, the materiality of the explosion, in which matter was transformed and people were hurt, tends to move to the background. The explosion is easily perceived as merely a collection of images, a cloud of data that is contained by the digital platform that one accesses through a small screen of a digital device.
DISSECTION OF A DISAPPEARING CLOUD (Indifference & repetition #2) approaches the Said al-Mishal bombardment as a material event. The artist asked a friend in Gaza City to collect dust and dirt from the remains of the building and send this to him. He then mixed the dust with water and used it to paint a large scale representation of the dust cloud that accompanied the explosion of the center, based on a photo he saw in the news when he learned about the bombardment.
The physical presence of material from the actual explosion establishes an indexical connection with the site of the horrific explosion, rather than the often symbolic function of news media imagery.
Stuff As Dreams by Guli Silberstein
Video, 2016
Puzzling, alienated pictures of dreamy excursions in nature are mixed with news reports from scenes of people frantically fleeing false and real terrorist attacks. The film is sequenced as a colourful digital kaleidoscope, evoking an anxiety scenario that depicts the loss of the senses. We live in a fragmented world where personal and public perception collide and appear as a soup of incoherent memories.
Google Gardening by Judith Sönnicken
VR Installation, 2017
Two interdimensional travelers are planting flora in the garden of the Googleplex building in Silicon Valley. The ritual takes place in virtual reality, allowing them to trespass into a corporate, privatized environment that embodies a search engine.
While Google claims accessibility to all human knowledge in virtual space, the two figures are glitching through the cracks of this mental geography, in order to introduce unknown species into its actual garden. The sound consists of adaptive biofeedback of the plants to their environment, touch and water.
The original idea of this piece was to plant a flower into the garden of the Googleplex building in Silicon Valley – a corporate, privatized environment. The artist contacted Google to get a permission which was rejected. Out of that frustration she developed a
virtual trespass into the search engine. Based on the fact that a GPS signal consists of both a time and a space coordinate, the botanical intervention required a hack of one of them. She had to “freeze” linear time and ”trespass” through the juxtaposition of 2 different media files.
Google Gardening portrays the power implications of centralized information systems. The privatization of corporate geographies in analog space and their digital capture through surveillance technology stand in opposition to the service Google claims to provide: the accessibility of all knowledge in digital space.
WATERMANS ART CENTRE 40 HIGH STREET, BRENTFORD, LONDON TW8 0DS
Exhibition runs 6-20 September

www.watermans.org.uk
(2019-09-11)

||||

2019/ Magmart | design & development:studio tad