April 17th, 2010 - In Between Series at NOMA, San Francisco.
NOMA Gallery is pleased to present Avatar 4D, a performance event curated by Caitlin Denny & Parker Ito, the curatorial duo known as JstChillin. In a night of embodied logarithms and viral glancing, Denny and Ito have asked seventeen artists concerned with the internet to perform in the space all at the same time. Through curatorial synesthesia, Denny & Ito set up chaotically choreographed circumstances that exist in a reality of virtual proportions, modifying their skins in a post human culture of "I".
The nostalgic net romanticism of the nineteen nineties is a crisis passed - promises of a future society of cyborgs via The Lawnmower Man, Johnny Mnemonic and Searle's AI hypothesis have swelled and vanished. Utopian metamorphosis through the digital screen is best left for Cameron's Avatar 3D. A fold in our digital condition has occurred, not unlike the fold of the human body, a naïve comfort in the inner workings of a complex machine. Dependence on the functions and malfunctions of the computer leave us at once at the whim of an unknown force and completely in control of our tactile environment. Embodiment no longer coincides with the limits of flesh; disembodiment initially experienced on the internet opens the possibility for collective re-embodiment through new technologies. Ben Vickers (London) traces through his persons, his multiples, in a piece in which he recites the web address, username and password for every account and avatar he has ever represented. He forfeits all control to an unnamed audience who now have the ability to become him, to change him, to colonize his experience. The digital action signifies a movement, pulling the body beyond it's limits into a networked world of gestural relentlessness.
Artists in Avatar 4D are reality hackers, experimenting with the theoretical apparatus of struggle. The tensions that arise in finding one's body without organs, as Deleuze would say, is between the ever changing modes of the net as much as the change in the self. The narcissistic focus found in many of the artists' works act as an instrument of distancing. Petra Cortright's work with high end webcams featuring herself and released on the internet speak to the idea that a gesture performed through the internet does not create an image of oneself, but an event of oneself. These actions and the Avatar 4D event are models of new movement. In addition to the live event held at NOMA Gallery, a simultaneous event of the same name will occur at Reference Gallery in Richmond, Virginia. The abstraction and compression of each work created for Avatar 4D will come to life at Reference Gallery, acting as not a simulation but a counterpart to the San Francisco show.
The abstraction of the net and new technologies is based on a digital materialism, finding our bearings in a real situation, executing an operation with concrete intention only to multiply the unexpected ghosts of technology. It is this method of creation that is the work; it is the network, the mainframe, the ability for creativity by proxy that overrides the tangible finality of a work, yet binds the body to the existential machine. Avatar 4D pulls cyber materiality out of the depth of minds - movement and sensation that are ever present on the web make themselves known to the web 2.0 world.
Participating artists include ann hirsch, ben vickers, brad troemel & lauren christiansen, bryan morello, chris coy, duncan malashock, elna frederick, guthrie lonergan, iain ball, jon rafman, justin kemp, michelle ceja, mitch trale, petra cortright, ryder ripps, zach shipko.