DIGITAL&DEAD - 2017
AR, edition of six unique targets (epoxy,pigments)
DIGITAL&DEAD is a collaboration with artist Rachel McRae.
Soundtrack composition and production by Vincent Cavanagh.
The project is supported using public funding by Arts Council England and The Canada Council for the Arts.
1-3: In-Ruins Residency - Parco Archeologico Scolacium (Borgia, Italy) where DIGITAL&DEAD was displayed amongst tombs of the Byzantine Necropolis, 2018
4-6: Super Dakota, Brussels, 2017
5: South London Gallery, 2018
Rituals of death and dying have changed considerably in the 21st century. As the approach to the body became increasingly sanitised, the corpse’s physical presence was dematerialised, pushing the body into another realm almost entirely. Social media platforms have accelerated this process by providing deceased users a form of eternity through dematerialized transmogrification; from dead flesh to data.
Approximately 8000 Facebookusers die every day and manyreports suggest the ratio of living versus dead users might reverseby the end of the century; turning Facebook into the largestremembrance platform… anonline graveyard. Each of us has or will witness the death of asocial media friend; her/his profile left unaltered or turned into a remembrance page by a relativewho navigated a complex,
constantly amended and updated administrative process. Only a minority of these profiles are taken down, most remaining strangely, virtually, “alive”.
Web 2.0 not only provides better user interactivity, it collects and archives everything: allowing social media platforms to provide the continual persistence of an absence. Zombified profiles keep calling to us; notifications, alerts and shared memories continuously popping up in a nonhuman attempt at communication. It is in this process, through this dialogue with a life-mimicking algorithm, that the digital and IRL experience overlap: converging into one. The Dead transmogrified into the Digital.
We wonder; has the algorithmmade us eternal or undead? And specifically, what is the
appropriate way to memorialize the deceased, post-body, in the age after the Internet?
DIGITAL&DEAD(2017) is an immersive Augmented Reality (AR) sculpture only visible through the screen of a smart-device held up like a window onto the other side. The viewer can interact and examine a monument haunting the exhibition space: the sculpture appearing onscreen through a Target-as-Portal, as if it were within the room. The viewer can walk around the monument as it morphs between different shapes, mimicking the minimal geometry of gravestones, tombs, monuments and monolithic server/data farms.
The viewer simultaneously experiences a multi-layer sound composition using field recordings from London cemeteries, a text-piece culled from social media memorials and conversations with chatbots.