Elastic Reality: an interplay between the real and the virtual

Ten different perspectives to approach digital culture through the virtual

Published: Mar 19, 2013
Elastic Reality: an interplay between the real and the virtual

Hand-held. David Rokeby

By Marta Lorenzo, My Art Diary

This weekend I headed north, specifically to the coastal city of Gijón. The occasion: to visit for the first time the enormous centre of art and industrial creation placed at the disposal of the people of Gijón, and hence all Asturians: LABoral.

The centre opened its doors almost six years ago as an interdisciplinary space whose axis revolves around the production and diffusion of technological culture and ICTs. With a clear focus on showing a new approach, accompanied with time and dedication, LABoral strives to generate public interest in something unknown and little explored by most people. Realidad Elástica [Elastic Reality] is a further endeavour within the programme to show how new cultural habits arising from the digital revolution have changed and are changing at a staggering speed our primitive and simple version of what is understood as reality.

In an age when we read in the press – digital, of course - that the natives of Gijón will be able to pay for their bus tickets on their mobile devices, it is hardly surprising that we consider how this previously unimaginable reality affects our everyday life. As always in history, artists lead the way and thanks are due to them for all kinds of experimentation, for breaking down barriers and reconsidering the status quo. In a society where the internet has become a vast media library where we communicate and generate a detailed record of our actions, this exhibition shows us new ways of interacting with the real world drawing from technological culture. Yet, if there is one thing that defines the majority of the pieces, apart from their experimental nature, it is the need for the actual spectator to be an essential part of them. Our participation, already postulated as voyeurs by Duchamp, creates an authentic experience in real time - a kind of precursory augmented reality. In this way, “Elastic Reality” looks at how the virtual becomes real for a few minutes and the real dissolves into experimentation.

Ten artists make up the vision selected by Benjamin Weil, the Centre’s Director, for this exhibition. Two of them stand out as being more experienced artists, in the sense that they have mentored younger creators, and almost all were born at the beginning of the 1980s, as part of this programme followed by Le Fresnoy, the French institute which is coproducing the show along with LABoral. These two artists are:

David Rokeby

His installation entitled Hand-held surprises the spectator a priori due to its empty space. This space is “activated” by our presence, to be precise, with our hands. In this work hands are at once the mechanism by which we discover reality hidden in the work and also the protagonists, given the growing importance this part of the body has gained in its performance in digital culture. A mechanism as through them we discover images of real hands that play with different elements present in reality (pill bottles, food, a pack of cards, coins, etc.) A protagonist because they are a reflection of the important role that this anatomy of our body is acquiring for us when accessing information and communicating through ICTs. And so it is, our fingers operate our PC’s keyboard, enlarge and zoom out daily images in our smartphones; and are even the pointer of our orders in video games…

Ryoichi Kurokawa

Ryoichi Kurokawa - MOL from Le Fresnoy on Vimeo.

is truly impressive and shows a sculptural installation where the digital image and sounds of nature, mixed digitally, combine to generate a unique sensorial experience. By means of two huge video screens and holographic projections, images of bodies in deconstruction are displayed, which defy the laws of physics and optical phenomena. Kurokawa, in his exploration of space and his relationship with nature provides us with new visions of reality and seeks to make us reflect on our own perception and its representation.

The Brazilian artist Maya Da-Rin shows the first result of what will be the work Horizonte de sucesos #Camu­flaje [Event Horizon #Camou­flage] developed during her residency at LABoral. Maya works with GPS systems, or geolocalisation, and the contemporary concept of being permanently locatable. During a walk in a botanical garden in Gijón, Maya is followed by cameras guided by coordinates communicated to them by satellite-broadcast GPS signals. I found it very interesting to consider what can be extrapolated from her piece: the continuous emission of data generated by us which is randomly on the Net. A Net which isn’t innocent, but is capricious and quite often erratic.

Maya Da-Rin and her piece #Camuflaje.
Maya Da-Rin and her piece #Camuflaje

The work Tutti by Zahra Poonawala reflects on visual and sound relations, which are barely touched upon in today’s society where we are often unaware of the substantial sound pollution surrounding us. The spectators become once again an essential part of the work, since their position “awakens” the volume of the sound which is accompanied by the movement of several loudspeakers installed for this effect.  Hence it is us who determine the intensity of the sound depending on our intensity and agility, igniting certain solos which rise above into a musical composition especially recorded by a chamber ensemble based on the proposals by the artist.

Dynamic sound piece by Zahra Poonawala

Véronique Béland speaks to us about waves in This is Major Tom to Ground Control . Waves are another form of communication which go unnoticed by their very nature, and yet, when received on the internet they can be translated by computer programmes.  Béland is interested in this information insofar as it reveals to us what she calls “the voice of the universe”, that is to say, the reality outside of our closer reality. In this case, the installation shows a screen displaying signals received by the Paris Observatory which are converted by a computer programme into random texts. These are printed by a machine and we then hear them from a loudspeaker with a voice reading aloud the result in real time. It is a virtual way of understanding the waves with their results in the form of poems printed and saved in volumes, a document for future generations.

V. Béland: This is Major Tom to Ground Control.

Without a doubt, Elastic Reality helps us to understand the number of possible connections that can be woven together through the virtual. A new world to be discovered: Let’s explore!



Collaborating Patron:

With the support of the Culture Programme of the European Union

European Union

    Logo LABoral
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