Exhibitions / AGM Culture 15: Physical and Virtual [artistic practice, art management]

12.04.2015 to 12.04.2015

AGM Culture 15

Mengi, Reykjavik, Iceland

Sunday 12 April, 18:00 hrs

 

AGM Culture 2015: Physical and Virtual. A reflection on the material and the immaterial in the context of Iceland, and how the phantom, amorphous nature of our contemporary digital image-world is reliant on an invisible infrastructure of underground ‘plumbing’.

  

Introduced by Alfredo Cramerotti and conducted by Steven Bode, Director, Film and Video Umbrella, London, UK. With artists Ed Atkins, Graham Gussin, Anne Haaning and Ragnar Helgi Ólafsson.

 

Special screening of Warm, Warm, Warm Spring Mouths by Ed Atkins

 

Illustrated presentation by Steven Bode on a broad range of themes, all linked to a graphic and compelling dichotomy between the immaterial surface appearance of the contemporary digital image world and the material infrastructure that underpins and enables it. The content of the lecture is about data space/geological analogy (clouds of data backed up by the unseen tubes and invisible flows of underground plumbing).

 

As Facebook looks to set up another new server farm in Iceland (to go with its others around Scandinavia), to help store all the gazillions of personal images that people have been taking, sharing and storing, what do we mean when we talk about the ‘cloud’ (magical genie-like marvel or vague amorphous consensual illusion?). It’s interesting that the Oxford English Dictionary word of the year for 2013 was ‘selfie’, whereas for 2014, it was ‘vape’. The two linked when selfies started circulating about vapers’ craze of ‘cloud chasing’, i.e. blowing and exhaling so much vapour that their faces and most of their immediate surroundings are obscured. The tide of selfies somehow being shadowed by, or even replaced by, images of cloud chasing vapers. An interesting sign of the times, perhaps, as things become more and more insubstantial, but also as the material/infrastructural provision for all that airy throwaway insubstantiality starts to fall into place all around us (and yet which people seem barely interested in acknowledging, except when it goes wrong).

 

So as well as the airy clouds of data that we put our faith in, what happens when the underground networks that sustain our current mode of existence go wrong? The 'exploding pavement’ outbreak in London is telling, in an effort to try and compare contemporary phenomena with nods to Icelandic mythology (hopefully humorously). As well as ‘clouds’, Bode looks at ideas of ‘bubbles’, and how ‘bubbles’ (technological or financial) are conjured and sustained by equally invisible forces, that we rarely see, or want to know about (our de-materialised economic model kept afloat by Chinese and Asian labour that’s rarely pictured or represented, but which is the underground motor that underscores so much of the way we live today.)

 

And in talking about Iceland’s bubbles and clouds, Graham Gussin talks about how this might resonate with Spill, one of his two works presented in Sequences VII, and his interest in how 'atmospherics’ affect material nature (or our perception of material nature). Graham further presents a short intro to Remote Viewer, considering how it originated in Iceland, and how its subject matter also seems relevant to the theme of the physical and the virtual.

 

Anne Haaning’s piece Khoisan Medicine, being a meditation on data visualisation, but also a work that draws our attention to much older mythological means of understanding our place in the world, offers a perfect opportunity to respond to Bode and Gussin’s reflections; whilst Atkins’ piece Warm, Warm, Warm Spring Mouths and his remote avatar performance, is also part of the line-up of the day. 

 

Finally, Ragnar Helgi Olafsson responds at the end of the series of presentations, in relationnot much about Iceland’s history and iconography but rather on the key aspects of being inside / outside, somewhere / elsewhere, here / there.