This year, our global society has been turned upside down due to a global pandemic. With limited travel, restrictions on public events or gatherings, and many people working from home, society has entered a new age of digital life, communication, collaboration, and creativity. In our current times, we pose the question: how can artists continue to comment on our changing society, and engage audiences through online mediums and spark new ways of thinking? This format of online engagement has become, at times, our only available space of interaction and collaboration in this new world.
As part of our focus area that explores the need for, and promotes a healthy digital society where trust and privacy are expected by users and provided by producers of digital innovation, we’re excited to present the following eight artist projects as part of Beyond 2020: A (Post-) Pandemic Project. These artists are responding to our current times – they pose questions about our realities, identities and societies that have been shaped and transformed by digital tools that have become intertwined in our daily lives.
Selected Artists are listed below accompanied by a description of their work. Some works are still evolving and descriptions may change as the artworks are developed.
The Artists Selected
Maria Guta/Lauren Huret
Title of Work: The Soothsayings of Iris
video, 21 minutes, 2020
Written, directed and performed by Maria Guta & Lauren Huret
The Soothsayings of Iris is the first collaboration between Swiss based artists Lauren Huret and Maria Guta. Based on the “73 Questions” Vogue format and “viral” type formats by highlighting their awkwardness and problematic aspects, as well as their instant worldwide broadcasting – this prophetic satire is an interview with a fictive character, mash-up of several intriguing public figures that populate our networks. Inspired by their adoptive Swiss environment and the US West Coast, the artists are fascinated by the spread of specific ideologies like new-age mysticism, tech gurus and the phenomenon of overhyped celebrities. The piece is a commentary on how we deal with digital identity and the influence of media representation on the collective psyche.
Laura Couto Rosado
Title of Work: Extinct_SF
Extinct_SF is an abbreviation of the names Extinct Species Filter. The filter hijacks the new social rituals on the internet and questions our relationship to other nonhuman living species, frontline victims of the global ecological crisis. Rosado will design a series of 4 AR filters for Facebook and Instagram that transform the faces of the users into wild animals that were extinct less than a century ago due to human activity. These digital filters that allow us to transform our faces into animal masks on the screen and are inspired by the ways of thinking of various indigenous peoples around the world who may summon their ancestral rituals in a time of myth where all species are interweaved without distinction in nature. This project is part of an approach to ward off our anthropocentric vision of the world and explore new narratives from the anti-speciesist point of view to envision a global sustainable future.
Title of Work: Laser Sensitive
The project Laser Sensitive explores the visual culture of laser light and will be articulated along two axes: light that harms and light that heals. From the use of lasers in recent protests to the use of lasers in acupuncture, ranging from mass uses to more utopian applications. Laser Sensitive will be mainly experienced through your digital screens, far from intense light sources.
Title of Work: S1E1
In development, Real Madrid have proposed to present a series of short animated images which show small actions in different public spaces, infiltrating the urban sites of San Francisco. As our physical urban environments become shared and experienced by people around the world thanks to new technologies, how have our public spaces or our experience of them shifted.
Title of Work: Binominale
Binominale (from the French word “binôme”: a complementary pair) is a new concept – curated by Swiss artist collective Fragmentin – in which artist pairs from different countries exchange instructions on how to recreate or re-perform each other’s artworks remotely. The pair’s collaboration and artistic processes are documented in a novel way and uploaded to a purpose-built website which serves as a modern digital archive.
The resulting artworks are then simultaneously exhibited – on site and online – by two partnering institutions in the artists’ home countries. Binominale is designed to enable international artistic collaboration despite travel restrictions and physical distancing measures. This contemporary twist on the 1960s conceptual art encourages artistic co-creation and the local sourcing of materials. By removing transportation, it also aims for a minimal ecological impact. While the curation process will begin early 2021, the first edition of Binomiale will occur in summer 2021 simultaneously at La Becque, résidence d’artistes, la Tour de Peilz (CH) and at the Pier 17 from Swissnex San Francisco (US).
Annie Aries, Brian House, Marcel Zaes
Title of Work: Metric Displacement
For Metric Displacement, experimental sound artists Aries, House, and Zaes each make beats that reflect their own individual experiences of place. Each beat is subsequently cut into a lock groove on a vinyl record and played on a turntable in one of multiple physical sites across the globe—these are streamed online so that they are experienced together only in digital space.
Title of Work: Carbon Black X-Ray
In our age of cosmological disasters and pandemic agents, Bruckner uses speculative Science Fiction as a catalyst to imagine worlds that allow us to live with the synthetic, toxic and more-than-human order of the present-day reality. Departing from the research around “atmospheric escape” which Bruckner is interested in, and as Susan Sontag puts forward, “how utopia can be imagined or experienced effectively, in small, incremental moments that proximity can provide”, Bruckner extends her research for this project with new questions of utopian possibility in our pandemic world.
Manuelita Antonio, Nico Bruhlmann, Arianne Gelardin and Matthias Zaugg
Title of Work: Privilege Visualizer
The Privilege Visualizer is an accessible, online tool to help people reflect the advantages that they have been given over the course of their lives. Synthesizing a survey of fundamental questions about race, class and gender, the animated graphic breaks down the myth of meritocracy, highlights the unearned gains that have awarded privileged people with quality education, professional success, financial security, good health, and unquestionable safety in our current times. The Privilege Visualizer contextualizes the individual’s privilege in relation to other survey participants and their country of residence. The experience of ‘calculating’ one’s privileges – while wholly impossible-attempts to digitally and visually quantify (and challenge) one’s sense of self, ultimately calling for a deeper understanding of humanity, social responsibility, and compass. Although technological advancements are allowing certain societies to modernize by providing access to resources like education and services, in some societies the gap between the ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’ is only growing more disparate. In our current digital age, this work poses the question: how can we ensure an equitable future for all?