Images and text by Antonis Sideras, MFA Fine Art at Wimbledon College of Art
Whether we like it or not, technology has invaded every facet of our contemporary culture. It thus comes as no surprise that a group of artists studying at Wimbledon College of Arts, put on an art exhibition influenced by the temporal malfunctions observed in today’s technology. As the title of the show denotes, each of the three artists exhibiting at the Morgue – an unusual gallery space at Chelsea College of Arts – have created their own physical and digital interpretations of the word glitch.
As you enter the space, you immediately notice a plethora of structures resembling scrunched up pieces of paper laid on the floor. On a closer inspection, the viewer discovers that the small pieces of paper have been treated with some sort of wax, making them stiffer. There are however some aluminium sculptures, resting on structures made of metal rods – which are roughly 10 times the size of their life size counterparts. These are titled ‘Next Macintosh v1.3 and v1.4’ and both display distorted images of backgrounds on their inner surface. It seems that their maker Marie Gerard has realised a physical metaphor for how digital data may appear once it is corrupted.
Whilst you venture further into the morgue, you are greeted by the unsettling sight of the current USA president, in a small-scale wall projection. This video piece titled ‘Glitch US’ by Joshua Evan comprises of a heavily glitched and slowed down version of Donald Trump’s inauguration speech, originally broadcast in January 2017. Trump’s voice echoes like the screams of a poltergeist trapped in the morgue, whilst the image of him moving on a glacial pace conjures up the trauma brought about by the most recent US presidential election.
‘Glitch Us’ is accompanied by another video being projected on the adjacent wall, which bares the image of a young couple – a man and a woman to be precise, chilling in an interior setting. The camera is set behind a sofa, so the sitters have their backs turned towards the audience as they indulge in an intimate affair with technology: A flat screen TV is on at the background. Each person has a laptop sat on their laps as they fiddle with other portable devices such as smart phones and tablets. Are they paying attention at any of these devices, or even each other? This video titled ‘Voyer’ by Marley Treloar illustrates how contemporary technologies make people be ‘alone together’ in the words of Social Science Researcher Sherry Turkle, who argues that we are now more comfortable with digital intimacy than face to face interactions.
Perhaps the most amusing part of Glit//tch3 was observing the audience being ambushed by loud sounds of social media and smartphone notifications as they walked around the exhibits. Treloar and Evan partnered up in creating a motion sensitive sound installation which was triggered by even the slightest of moves, blasting a call tune or a facebook notification towards the unsuspecting audience, who would instantly check their phones.
Overall, the Wimbledon MFA trio staged a multisensory experience which highlighted the polarising nature of using our personal technologies to an extensive degree in the 21st century.
Gli//tch3, The Morgue, Chelsea College of Arts, April 11 to 13 2018.