Architecture of a spectral city
The internet offers us a space of possibilities where hierarchies are toppled and time is collapsed. It was often proposed that the internet would provide us with a utopian refuge from the physical world. However, this act of removal of certain boundaries has brought forward a point at which information has been flattened out to such an extent that most things in this space are rendered meaningless. High art rides alongside to irrelevant objects, and reality, fiction, lies and truth sit hand in hand.
Barriers between the authentic and the implausible are breaking down. Reality is more subjective than ever, and the clear communication of ideas and opinions is difficult to achieve. Swept away on a looping tide of clickbait into seamless worlds of video game vistas where our news-feeds are tailored to our desires. We are told that we are all different, we are all individuals, and it’s coincidental we all want the same things, same images, same products, and same celebrities that shimmer and flicker before us.
Charlotte Cousins, Artist and Curator
The focus of this project is to imagine an interim space where these positions have completely overridden all reality. A digital dream space where newly sentient code contemplates the contradictory landscape that birthed it. The work uses the traditional means of collage to re-imagine the virtual sphere. Taken from the areas of pop culture, science fiction, religion, commerce, politics, and theoretical science, these elements create the cloudy landscape of our projected, often dystopic, future.
Kendrick’s work sands down the rubbing spots between planes of existence: real:virtual:botanical:human. Screen-lives buffer as ancient artefacts are re-branded for mass consumption. Sci-fi psychedelia assert parity while hierarchies bleed out in numerical free-fall. Revolution creeps on crepe soles, holding something that is half light-saber, half spirit-level. In a holding space for those who shuttle between worlds.
We have all now become a part of the network, trading in our personal privacy for social connections that we all deeply desire. With AI, genetics and nano tech and the hybridization of these technologies moving at such an astonishing pace, our future seems ever more clouded. The future of our childhood has not only happened, it has become a distant past. These positions create an increasingly uneasy feeling about our technological and political futures. Resource wars rage as global warming’s effects present themselves in ever more violent capacities. Vanity and greed are driven by the ferocious appetite of a capitalist system which has consumed and poisoned our political arenas. By looking at our collective successes and failures as a species, can we harness the possible impacts that technologies could have to help us reach a fairer and more democratic society? Is it possible to rekindle the caring social structures of our ancestors; did those structures ever exist? Can we reconcile the problems we face with our emerging technologies or will we, as some believe, be extinguished by them?
- Display at the Participation Matters exhibition
Interview with Will Kendrick
By Olga Yegorova, on 15/11/17
Olga: You have been selected to take part in R! with a particular work, but what characterizes your art more in general?
Will: My work tackles many themes which are often grounded in digital culture, the video game sphere or science fiction. One of the recurring themes is the relentless exposure to imagery through digital technology and how we try to find a point of calm within that noise. It’s a push and pull between attraction and repulsion, digital and physical, and the perceived disconnects between the natural animal world and the human technological world.
Olga: R! covers a variety of themes and concepts, where all projects relate to notions such as participation, democracy, community media and/or power, always in very diverse ways. From your point of view, which of these concepts play a role in your project?
Will: I guess it hits on a few of those topics in a much broader sense. I think the work is often talking from a perspective of our technologies and the network we built. By network, I mainly talk about the internet. It’s still relatively new to us in the grand scheme of things and we still don’t know where it will take us. It’s a place in which we engage with each other and a place where we share and store our stories and information. It is a global community that is now at the centre of our lives. It knows everything about us and can project everything to us that it believes we will consume. The future is hazy now. It’s interesting to think of how we might exist in this virtual space in the future.
Olga: Your installation depicts a relationship between the virtual and the embodied, the digital and the tactile. How is this relationship presented? And how might this representation also have a political meaning for you?
Will: I often think about the work as existing in this dream space between human thought and an imagined sentient code. I want it to have an attachment to the idea of a ghost-like entity within this virtual realm. My installation acts like a physical representation of a seam between our human minds and a machine as it begins to wake. It’s flooded with the information that it is riding. I am talking about a space that we may or may not have to contend with but it is something that intrigues me greatly.
What happens as we move closer to our technology? Who owns this space? These are questions that are often in the back of my mind. Companies like Elon Musk’s Neuralink are currently working on the development of implanted brains to computer interfaces. They are in one sense very exciting prospects to me, but on the other hand, with the current state of media, privacy and directed marketing, where might this tech put us in the future?
Olga: Your project might point at a potential crisis within the society that arises from the several unknown aspects of the technological advancement or consumption. How do you address these crises? And do you see wider, political or societal meanings in the ways your work depicts those?
Will: I have often used various advertising campaigns and band iconography within my practice. I think that they are unfortunately the dominant symbols of our society. In many ways, these signs have replaced the gods. Celebrity coupled with commodification is a big problem. We thought that fame and money will make us happy but this is our greatest distraction. With attention diverted and our wallets open, we have sort of walked into a very strange place and many of these companies have become powerful social institutions, not to mention the amount of wealth and political sway the larger corporations garner from these behaviours.
I don’t think the work is focused solely on this but I have it there as part of a collection of discussions that are swirling around the space I am depicting. I think that, within the work, these particular discussions manifest more as a warning for the future. They are more about the notions of sleep working into things, of drifting from one situation to the next. It urges to be aware of that as we move slightly more hopeful and optimistically into the future. There is a new space opening and we need to be aware of our past mistakes.
Olga: You are taking objects from various times of human existence and put them into a new context through your installation. How do you thereby change the previously taken-for-granted meaning of these symbols and what does this transformation stand for – on a political or societal level?
Will: The symbols do start to take on new meaning when you put them into the context of our social evolution. I think of them as a part of an archive being scanned and processed, as some kind of emerging consciousness trying to understand our past technologies and behaviours; biology and physics; our successes and failures in order to move forward together. I think this is what this space represented in my installation feels like to me. It’s sometimes dark but depicts overall an optimistic worldview.