In the field of media art and technology we often discussed, until recently, how to design intimate technology. And the desire to be departing, like Harry Potter, from Platform 9 ¾ seemed to be a major incentive for augmenting and mixing realities. Until last spring, when the University of Art and Design in Linz had to close and a lockdown immersed us all, unwillingly, in a virtual world whilst the physical world seemed to be replaced by daily statistics. This is the context for the Interface Cultures students who worked, for the full 2020 summer semester, in confinement on their projects for this exhibition.
The Interface Cultures students show us their survival tactics: how they dusted off the romantic artistic solitude as a way to fight the feeling of being isolated. The exhibition shows how art can both distract us from loneliness and magnify our social needs in times of confinement. Moreover, the exhibition highlights, maybe even more than before, the relevance of art and artistic research in the digital realm.
Several of the works draw us into the intimacy of the student’s private sphere, as if we are sitting next to them, locked up in their student room in the dorm or wherever on the globe they were stranded when we all went into lockdown. Whilst some of the students invite us in, others are keen to keep us out, and critique the state of our privacy. We are taken behind the scenes and learn that, although we are lucky to have the GDP in place in Europe, we risk privacy erosion when one is asked to ‘donate’ private data. The tech savvy students bring forward questions such as: Sharing one’s intimate data for a good cause or profit? What is the impact of this confinement on our private life, on our democracy? As a sign of the time, the exhibition even includes artistic responses to ‘skin hunger’, a new phenomenon that came along with the new realities’ hygiene and social distancing regulations.
Independently from the isolation, several projects show artistic and ethnographic experiments with social interfaces. These projects lead us down to unknown (fictional) paths in our visual culture where the individual and society intersect. Other paths take us to more distant, but urgently topical, viewpoints of general concern about our online lives and bring forward pressing issues such as: How vulnerable are we online? How do we come to supported resolutions and decisions online? Is our media and biological literacy future-proof?
What all these years’ student projects share is a call to remain alert, a state of emergency.
Moreover, this unique exhibition reflects, in many respects, the diversity of the international Interface Cultures students group. Many of the students’ art and technology projects seem to encourage us to consider new collective values.
We hope you’ll be inspired and alerted by their intimate, artistic, socially engaged, technical informed or critical views on our life over the last half year.
Text: Dr. Anne Nigten, Guest Professor Interface Cultures
Faculty: Fabricio Lamoncha, Anne Nigten, Christa Sommerer, Laurent Mignonneau, Davide Bevilacqua, Gertrude Hörlesberger
Production/Design team: Giacomo Piazzi, Sofia Braga, Antonio Zingaro, Mario Romera, Juan Pablo Linares Ceballos, Matthias Schäfer, Kevan Croton