When I was in middle school I gave in to the current hysterical trend and bought a tamagotci. For those of you who were living in a box at the time a Tamagotchi was a hand held digital pet that simulated the relationship of a pet with it’s owner via simple graphics, required action (feeding, playing, giving medicine), and the constant threat of sickness and death of the pet, if the game was ignored. My pet was a generic looking dog that I named Franklin. I was obsessively attentive to Franklin for the first week, to the point where I got detention in school for playing with him instead of reading Lord of the Flies. For about a fortnight after that first week I ensured that I did the basic required actions so that Franklin wouldn’t die. He was dead within a month. Having lost interest I left Franklin to die in a draw, it took less than two days. I was surprisingly upset when I fully realised what I had done; I had let my dog starve to death because it had bored me. Filled with remorse I re-set the game and bought Franklin back to life…. Only to get bored again. But having learnt my lesson that allowing the pet to die from neglect would lead to feelings of guilt and regret I instead decided to act mercifully and quickly kill Franklin by removing his batteries. I don’t re-call what happened to him after that.
Paro: Mental Commitment Robot by Erica Saccombe, re-asserts the psychological affect of these kinds of technological relationships. Infinitely more developed and realistic than my tamagotchi, the work immediately evokes an emotional response, one of longing, adornment and also concern for this piece of technology that is caged isolated and at points crying for contact. For me the work does not just capture a dislocation from reality but questions our responsibility to digital and virtual entities that are created for our amusement. For example, what happens to my Second Life avatar for the months on end that I refuse to go near it? Did Franklin feel the pain of my rejection and do digital puppies get to go to heaven? The location in the airport further illuminates the transient nature of these kinds of interactions; they are novel, exciting, and emotive but limited both in terms of any realistic engagement and also in the longevity of that engagement. Dr Takanori Shibata may be developing mental-commitment robots that have beneficial psychological, physiological and social effects on human beings through physical interaction, but what happens to them once the humans are done with them? Are we destined to abandon such innovations in the same way Christmas kittens get abandoned to the pound? Who will advocate for our created digital wilderness? Will the abandoned abused creatures ever find a way to escape or perhaps fight back?
— Raya MacMillen
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Every Second is a Choice – Braydon Gould
Every Second is a Choice is a deeply personal work.
A 30 second video work that conveys the artists battle with depression. The pressing question is; “does this work defy criticism?”
Maybe, in some mindsets.
However, I feel that this video work expresses a fleeting moment, laden with premise and connation. It is an expression that conveys an experience with almost complete detachment from the consuming narcissism that comes with works addressing this kind of topic.
What is wonderful about it is that it is not a light or comfortable subject to address. I did hesitate in writing about such a personal work. After all, dealing with depression is no easy task, and dealing with suicide or attempted suicide is something not many of us can empathise with. In this sense, art that is born out of such emotion is not easily conveyed or understood.
Every Second is a Choice renders your expectations of narrative misguided. Here, emotion is understood as interpretive, and so is not offered to the viewer in any concrete sense. Instead what is offered is a disjointed insight into single seconds of experience. It is noise and fractals. There is torment and anguish there, yet it doesn’t tell you how it feels, it doesn’t insist on the absoluteness of its pain. The work lays out the experience, it knows you are watching, and so does not give too much away. What is quiet can and does scream. It’s haunting, but does not insist on its ghosts. Instead it makes sense of itself in geometrics, in movement and in its fleetingness. So much of what are memories are made of this, and so what is recreated for Gould is these moments is just that, a personal and external understand of a moment in life.
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New Year Heart - Leah Collins
Before I start this ‘review’, you have to know that video art is mostly lost on me. Call me a wannabe modernist/post-modernist. Tell me I’m living in the past. But generally speaking, anything after the 70’s is a bit of struggle. Maybe it’s because the safety net of retrospect doesn’t exist just yet.
I’ve watched New Year Heart about 5 times now. I’m mesmerized by the ‘sleight of hand’ in this work. You are aware of your inability to follow exactly what is being written in frame of this small screen and even more so in the attempts to try to connect the words that you can make out with the sounds.
There’s a quiet passiveness here. Leah Collins talks about the isolation that comes with technology. Our digital connectedness is nullified by our inability to bound with the physical surrounds of our life. In the digital world, our lives are abstracted.
Sure, this proposition isn’t new. However, its execution could also discuss something as simple as mourning the lost physicality in life and/or in art. An image of the physical world represented on a computer screen is then actualised via the physical manipulation of the surface by a detached hand. We know something is being said, but we cannot grasp it. What remains of the imprint is fleeting, just like when you put pressure on skin.
——— Kate Palella
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Velvet Sky - David Spinks
I don’t know about you, but whenever I dream I always find it hard to keep my eyes focused. The scenery flits around like a film-reel slowed down. Like an image burning out or someone changing the channel on me.
Velvet Sky is just like one of these moments. Using a surreal and decidedly post-photographic approach to image making, David Spinks exploits different kinds of image mediums in a way that lends itself to the ‘realism’ of our dreams.
A wild array of images interact with eachother in a way that defies narrative, but at the same time makes sense. Visual cues clash and mesh together, inviting the viewer into a delicate yet charged moment, never quite allowing our consciousness the clarity to make meaning. In this way, Velvet Sky asks the viewer to look a little closer at the peripheral visions of our subconscious abilities for escapism and the vertigo of dreaming.
—— Kate Palella