...Using animations, the artist takes us to a molecular, simulated, random world that unpredictably and generatively interweaves SARS-COV-2 data and models with cells, proteins and human and non-human webs to evoke biotechnological landscapes. The generative movement comes from data banks on COVID-related deaths, giving visible form to rhythms and magnitudes that open up spaces for reflection and sorrow. The work questions the boundaries between technology, nature and society and reveals the intimacies, skeins and complexities of a world that, as the pandemic has shown us, is increasingly hybrid, variegated and (sub)liminal...
States of emergency: art in times of pandemic by Israel Rodríguez Giralt
States of emergency: art in times of pandemic by Israel Rodríguez Giralt
Curatorial Narrative Itinerary for La irrupción
Santa Monica Art Center, Barcelona, ES
Etymologically, the word emergency comes from Latin and refers to what "comes out of the water, arises or is brought to the light". This itinerary proposes a selection of pieces that help us (re)think a concept that has become crucial in a time marked by crises, collapses and pandemics. What becomes a priority and what becomes visible in a (prolonged) state of emergency? What is hidden, forgotten or postponed when life is reduced to "the essentials"? The selected works emerge from a time of crisis such as that triggered by COVID-19. They are works that represent and dialogue with what this pandemic has brought to the surface. They talk to us of curves, waves, data, human and non-human webs that make up the pandemic's social and biological landscape. They also reveal the uncertainties, the fears and noises, the grieving and the distances that characterise moments like this. In these pieces, art becomes a conceptual, affective, critical device to challenge a present that is complex, agitated, torn between old and new normals.
Curator: Israel Rodríguez Giralt
Associate lecturer and coordinator of the CareNet research group at the UOC's Internet Interdisciplinary Institute. He holds a PhD in Social Psychology (UAB). His research is interested in forms of activism, citizen participation and public debate in situations of high uncertainty, such as ecological crises, disasters and pandemics. His latest projects are interested in the relationship between healing and disasters, with a special focus on vulnerable groups in crisis and emergency situations, such as the elderly, people with functional diversity or children and young people. During the pandemic, he has been part of technical advisory groups for the Generalitat de Catalunya. He is the editor of the books Children and Young People's Participation in Disaster Risk Reduction (Policy Press, 2020), Reassembling Activism, Activating Assemblages (Routledge, 2019) and Disasters and Politics: Materials, Expertiments and Preparedness (Wiley/Blackwell, 2014).
Laura Splan, Syndemic Sublime
Using animations, the artist takes us to a molecular, simulated, random world that unpredictably and generatively interweaves SARS-COV-2 data and models with cells, proteins and human and non-human webs to evoke biotechnological landscapes. The generative movement comes from data banks on COVID-related deaths, giving visible form to rhythms and magnitudes that open up spaces for reflection and sorrow. The work questions the boundaries between technology, nature and society and reveals the intimacies, skeins and complexities of a world that, as the pandemic has shown us, is increasingly hybrid, variegated and (sub)liminal.
Nikolas Gomes, Concerto para Piano e Pandemia
What does the pandemic's soundscape sound like? How do you put sound to the information tsunami, overflowing with data, uncertainties and bad news, that has been circulating on social media such as Twitter? This musical piece invites us to transform this overwhelming digital world into a piano score. It is an immersive, sensorial work that opens the window to a reflection on the relationship between information and noise, between sound and silence, and explores the affective, subjective and corporal impact of this background noise. How do we move beyond this constant, repetitive influx of "tweets" and bad news that has been one of the pandemic's hallmarks?
Chanee Choi, Unreal Window
Inspired by the experience of lockdown and communication during the pandemic, this animation reflects on what it means to go virtual. What it means to become real/unreal, simultaneously present and absent, through screens, algorithms and digital data. The work deconstructs a hybrid, machine-like self, domestic and delocalised at the same time, and invites us to enter a chaotic, kaleidoscopic, self-referential world. In the background, there is a dialogue with other "indiscreet windows" in literature or cinema that also enquire into the emotions, intimacies, fears, distances and solitudes that accompany a digitised, hyperconnected, but also increasingly withdrawn and individualised society.
Lauren Lee McCarthy, Muted
In this compendium, the artist reflects on themes such as (dis)connection, (in)communication or presence/absence in times of pandemic. What does it mean to interact with others at a time when all social activities become dispensable, deferrable, or even dangerous? How does this intertwine with increasingly technological, algorithmic and automated ways of life? Using various sound and narrative layers, different performances invite us to reflect on the intimate relationship between technology, society and pandemic. On how these realities shape and interweave "scripts", possibilities and permutations for relating, connecting and/or communicating. Dialectically, the work also questions whether these same conditions can generate disconnection, peril, emptiness or silence.
Xuanyang Huan, Imaginary Sunset
During 2020, the pandemic produced global, generalised lockdowns and restrictions. Using a video installation, this work explores the role of artificial intelligence in interfering with and articulating a collective memory of these times of exceptionality and confinement. Using images of real skies and sunsets, photographed and shared on social media by people from all over the world, the artist recreates a fictional, poetic memory of this global emergency. A memory that challenges us to think about the role of machines and artificial intelligence in recreating the experience of living through a pandemic.
Uwe Brunner + Bettina Kadja Lange + Joan Soler-Adillon, #See You at Home - The Domestic Spaces as Public Encounter
"Stay home" has been one of the most repeated slogans during the pandemic. This installation enquires into the changes that the pandemic has brought about in how we have seen and experienced our domestic space during this period. It is a journey that invites us to revisit the home's transformation into a liminal space that articulates the interface between this eminently intimate, private space and the social, public sphere. Inwards and outwards, the house is transformed into a spiral in which the relationships, distances and limits of inhabiting emergency times and spaces are twisted and turned. Made of layers, fragments and imperfect, unfinished objects, this installation reflects on the changing significance of private spaces in times of new normalities.
Jennifer Gradecki + Derek Curry, Infodemic
This interactive installation invites us to rethink the relationship between notoriety, authority and credibility. Using algorithms and practices reminiscent of forms of subvertising (counter-advertising or advertising piracy), a series of videos digitally "alter" and re-signify "influencers" and "celebrities". They go from being known for denying the pandemic, or spreading false information about it, to providing factual or official information. This game of distorted mirrors simultaneously helps to unveil (and evade) the technocratic role and control exercised by the major economic powers and media through algorithms and social media. The piece encourages reflection on the inextricable relationship between science, technology and society of the spectatable and an invitation to take action and shake the mechanisms that sustain forms of ignorance, confusion and misinformation in difficult times such as a pandemic.
Kasia Molga, How to Make an Ocean
This installation allows us to journey through grief and the loss of loved ones during the pandemic. Tears shed become the source of new ties, relationships and ecosystems. Art becomes cathartic because it is capable of transforming one's own body into drops in an ocean that gathers and interrelates personal and environmental scales. Through the use of artificial intelligence, the installation challenges visitors to think about the role of algorithms and news in shaping landscapes of emotion, care and grief in the midst of an emergency.