Fluctuations & remote profiles

  • July 24 - September 622/07/14
  • Installation view
  • Installation view
  • Installation view
  • Installation view
  • Gwenneth Boelens
  • Hedwig Houben
  • EmilioRojas
  • Believing Is Seeing #2, 2007

Gwenneth Boelens | Kyungwoo Chun |  Sean Edwards | Hedwig Houben | Nacho Martín Silva | Emilio Rojas

Curator: Alejandro Alonso Díaz

‘‘Art creates an awareness about production methods and human relationships produced by the technologies of its day, and by shifting these, it makes them more visible, enabling us to see them right down to the consequences they have on day-to-day life.’’

 Nicolas Bourriaud: Relational Aesthetics. Presses du Réel. París, 1998

The entrenched presence of social media as a tool of mass use calls a growing complexity in the way we communicate with each other, impacting even in how we construct our own identity. It is in the personal profiles online, where a new type of self-portrait is configured today. The individual decides how to present his/her self onto the other’s eyes, implying the consciousness of knowing observed. Moreover, this new type of self-portrait allows a constant editing of our profile, enabling us to reinvent our identity. Thus, the screen becomes into the facade of our selves.

Through various artistic practices, Fluctuations & Remote Profiles reflects on how social relations are established in the digital era. Already in 1959, Erving Goffman described in The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life, how every subject modulates the behaviour depending on the different social settings. According to his approach, social interactions are configured as theatrical performances. The role each individual plays is tailored depending on the ”scenario” and seeks to control the impressions generated in the ”public”. However, face-to-face interaction is not only determined by what the individual expresses, but also by the other’s impressions. Not so with online interaction, in which you can generate a greater influence on the perception of the receptor, most of the time with a clear preference towards the idealization of the subject.

According to Goffman, there are two different areas that determine the behaviour of the individual. On the one hand, the scenario is where the desired image is projected, and on the other is the backstage, where the individual leaves the character aside. Nevertheless, through the online representation of the individual, the categories of public and domestic today have been homogenized, distorting the roles to perform in these two different spaces. Similarly, the anonymity and impersonality this medium provides us with, implies changes in our behaviour and in the creation of our personality, which no longer has to be linked to our real situation at this side of the screen.

It is also interesting how the modulation of our self-portraits through social media is consolidated by the electronic support with these contribute to our memory. The possibility of a daily and fluid access to files and images concerning our situation in the past contaminate our memories while determine new guidelines of action.

Unlike interpersonal relationships through physical encounters, the online communication codes have an implicit loss of contextual information, which determines both the perception and the message’s intentionality. This situation evidences the necessity to analyse the images of ourselves that we offer to the others, as well as the new social drifts that these are generating.

From the departure point of an interest in investigating how the virtual experience influences our society and culture, the artists in the exhibition approach from different perspectives issues regarding privacy, the perception of reality, our own images’ creation and the construction of the identity. Through multiple proposals each contribution active an awareness about the possibilities and limitations of social media, while questions our ability to adapt the technological tools at our disposal. Investigating how personal profiles online influence our way of living becomes into a reflection on the role of art as a mediator within this paradigm.

The proposal by Hedwig Houben reflects on the tensions between identity and its external projection. In Personal Matters and Matters of Fact, Houben seeks an encounter between her, the projection of herself and the tangible. Through five scenes, she attempts to achieve a dialogue between the artist, her portrait and the world of objects. However, both the plastic and the virtual reproduction only draw the artist further into uncertainty.

Gwenneth Boelens shares with Houben the common interest in noting the gap between physical and virtual experience, something directly speaking about the intrinsic limitations of online communication. In Hand-Wall, we find a hand recording the space while our eye follows its movements. It is a video that continuously evidences its own nature. The eyesight, a sense you can experience indirectly is moved to the background, while touch and its physical quality alert us on the impossibility to track our environment through the screen. We are aware of how our perception could be obscured.

The proposal by Sean Edwards sparks awareness about our context with the use of direct experimentation. Through Four Windows, the artist delimits our environment, focusing on how the context can be a manipulative element. The work is a vehicle to stop and think your perception, giving us the possibility to frame what we see. However, this experience can have both a panoramic scope and an introspective quality; you can see you watching, observing or being observed.

The work by Nacho Martín Silva takes pictorial tradition to reflect on the way we approach our contemporaneity. Unbekanntes Bild (Unknown Portrait) is an attempt to identify the character represented on the picture that Hitler had in his Führerbau’s office. As in the personal profiles in social media, the final composition consists of fragments, becoming a document about the desire to define the identity of the other.

Language is also incorporated in the space with the proposal by Emilio Rojas. Based on the interdependence between the message and the circumstances in which it is formulated, Invisible Enemies generates several interpretations related to the specific context within the exhibition. Thus, the enemies Rojas has allude here, remind us both to hidden presences we are aware of, as to the way in which social relations are sometimes established as mere superficial formalities.

” I doubt I can see more with my eyes open than when I close them”. This is what one of the portrayed in the series Believing is Seeing said. In the project, Kyungwoo Chun has photographed several blind children and teenagers during forty minutes of exposure. Meanwhile, they were invited to explain how they thought they look and to draw their faces the way they wanted to be captured, separating the consciousness on self-image from the construction of individual identity. Chun has created a series of self-portraits developed in time in which he distorts the apparent connection between self-portrait and identity.

This interest of art in a mediation role is one of the points that Nicolas Bourriaud made in his essay about The Relational Aesthetics. In this text, the French theorist describes the tendency of certain artistic practices from the nineties, to generate activities of human interaction and to promote cultural exchanges, in which the work of art was the very encounter between people. The practices of artists such as Carsten Höller, Pierre Huyghe, Philippe Parreno, Douglas Gordon and Rirkrit Tiravanija were a mode of resistance to a context in which the isolation of the subject and the individualism were the established way of living within urban areas, a consequence of the fact that the individuals had been constrained to mere consumers. According to Bourriaud, those artists did not create imaginary and utopian realities, but models of existence and modes of action, emerged from the society in which these practices had been generated.

However, over a decade later and after the rise of online communication as part of our everyday reality, it has been concluded a situation in which isolation and interaction have come to coexist. Through social media, the public context has been included into the domestic frame and the on-site has been shift by the virtual experience, giving raise to a new social challenge.

Within this situation, Fluctuations and Remote Profiles derives from the desire to create a sphere of dissent, to question the pre-set and to analyse a tool of mass use, which has been greeted both with euphoria and with passivity. Coming from distant points, the works included in the project look back to the new industries of communication to activate a reflection on our relationship with them. Through proposal of a prominent specificity, the resultant narrative is constructed by personal realities and individual approaches which lead into a reflection with global aspirations.

 Alejandro Alonso Díaz


 La Galería Nuble presenta Fluctuaciones y perfiles remotos. DARDO News 23.07.2014

‘Fluctuaciones y Perfiles Remotos’. Colectiva en la galería Nuble. InfoENPUNTO 07.08.2014

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