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Uploaded by : Arty | 05/22/09

The influence of technology on our daily lives can no longer be confined to science fiction; it has extended onto every aspect of real human behavior, altering its patterns and directing its development, subtly changing the human body and its relationship to the environment. Despite technology’s overwhelming presence, the new inventions are growing ever more invisible, more ubiquitous, and further integrated into already existing habits: the goal is to make them melt into the routine of daily life, become fully invisible in their recreation of nature. Artists in Exposed: Mimic act as a counterforce to this movement, constructing an opposing dialogue between the pieces and their audience. This dialogue is not a subtle element in the works; it is used as a storytelling medium which leads to a profound questioning of the audience’s relationship to their bodies, their environments, and technology. The result is a combination of experiences that build up into a shifting and evolving narrative constructed and told through the symbiosis of artists, works and their viewers.

According to Jonathan Culler, the basic narrative plot always carries a transformation, signifying an altering of the initial state throughout the story, and eventually linking back to its beginning, resulting in a continuous structure.[i] All works in this exhibition follow this model, telling their own stories of transformation. However, the central narrative is constructed through incorporating the viewer into the metamorphosis through each work, leading to a new experience of the physicality of body and its environment. The transformation is experienced by the viewer and then reflected back onto the work, giving it new shape; it’s a dynamic narrative of the body which is constantly in flux. For some pieces in the exhibition this process lies at their very core, as the viewer is a part of the piece’s interactive creation, such as in Jerome Delapierre’s Inter-faces or Enactive Walkway by Angela Gabreau, Maziar Javidiani, and Navid Navab. In others, the interaction is less physical, but just as transformative. In Myriane Lemaire Video Interface, for example there is no interaction beyond the choice of individual clips, each showing Myriane’s mimicking of various emotions into the camera, but the audience becomes a part of the piece as the dialogue between the artist’s gestures and the viewer’ reactions emerges. The playfulness of the piece encourages further exploration, while the small fractions of stories in each clip evoke associations, memories, laughter, and surprise.

While Culler’s model can easily be applied to new media art, the process through which the narrative emerges is very physical. Interactive pieces involve the viewer in the process of their creation, and the narrative is constructed through this relationship. As a result, they carry the bodily traces of the viewer’s involvement. They are constantly re-created with each new experience, and are therefore inseparable from the process of viewing or participating in the work. The breakdown of the boundary between the piece and its audience suggests a more intimate involvement, and therefore possesses the power to trigger associations, memories, or physical reactions that are tied to the viewer’s experience, which in itself is formed by an array of physical, cultural and psychological factors. The viewer’s body, in all its complexity, therefore, becomes indirectly incorporated into the work through the process of experiencing it, continuously changing the narrative of both the viewer and the exhibition.

This intertwining of the artwork with the organic body goes beyond the purely psychological relationship between the viewer and the piece. As data is collected from its source, such as viewer’s location, it is read and interpreted by a program. Before the viewer experiences the interaction, the input is turned into numbers, a quantitative trace of the viewer’s participation. A similar relationship exists in works by Adam Harvie who explores mathematical depictions of natural phenomena and their potential in creating aesthetic experience in Growth System. The trees and flowing organic shapes are tightly connected to their source. Even though they are described within a computer program, they are unlike representations of nature, such as a drawing or a sculpture: they are its mirror image or a dynamic plaster cast of the tree’s inner workings.

Storytelling serves a very different purpose in works that carry such a close relationship to their ‘source’ and that shift with their every viewing. The narratives, even though they contain parts of the past, do not focus on telling ancient stories or predicting the future; they are told in the immediate moment about the present, where the physically interacting body is both the protagonist and the narrator. The usual division of time and plot cannot exist in this setting, as they are all collapsed into a narrative which is experienced in the pieces, dynamic and shifting to remain constantly in the moment. The body is creating the piece, thus altering the environment and leaving traces of itself within it. These marks become part of the work and its environment, incorporated and layered into the exhibition’s narrative. The entire gallery participates in the creation of these stories, mimicking the way that the world and its inhabitants are in a constant process of creation and shaping of emotions, bodies, and environments. The physicality of the body, it’s corporeality and agency, are continuously reaffirmed; the exhibition constructs its stories, hoping that they will continue to transform and evolve, traversing the walls of the gallery space.

[1] Jonathan Culler, “Narrative,” in Literary Theory: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997), p. 80

References:

Culler, Jonathan. “Narrative,” in Literary Theory: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997


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