This exhibition was an on-site installation exercise that allowed the extrapolation of content, proper to the digital universe, to the concrete immediacy of habitable space. The main gallery at SGR became, for more than a month, a multi-media space that functioned as an immediate substitute for a virtual and abstract one: social media. The self-imposed requirement of public interaction with space, and the exposure to intimidating mechanisms of vigilance and control present in virtual platforms, pushed this project further than a simple act of showcasing art pieces in an exhibition space. Two chapters, that corresponded to each other, divided the content of the show.
The first one dealt, in an almost didactic way, with systematic vigilance incarnated by the vision of the machine and the algorithms derived from artificial intelligence. The viewer was forced to experiment a nearly paranoid episode charged with signs and elements no longer unique to the universe of science fiction, but that became omnipresent advertisement of a dystopic reality: intervened security cameras, interactive mirrors with the terms and conditions of Facebook, a screen fed by an object detection software that operated live, a wall of paintings based on social profiling through bitmaps, or a scrolling message LED display board with stock-market figures that invited reflection on the existing narrow relationship between capital production and corporate abuse of power founded on the analysis of data.
The second chapter, less didactic but more intentional, occupied the smaller gallery and was designed as an amplification of the @negroimago Instagram account, created months earlier specifically for the exhibition. This Instagram profile, a call to accuse self-consented vigilance, also replicated the economic and symbolic dynamics of digital society to demystify the transcendence of social media and warned about its potential danger. The posts on the account – repetitive black background images in a squared format – referenced the increasing pathologic tendency to iconolatry. They also appealed to absolute black – light level 0 and the total absence of information in a digital image – as a tool to slow down and throw off balance the systematic analysis potentiated by the algorithms of artificial vision. Three paintings made with Black 3.0 Stuart Semple, the blackest acrylic paint available in the market, depicted a grid of nine black squares, an homage to Kazimir Malevich’s historical research on the function of the image/icon. The floor was covered with mineral charcoal rocks, which made moving around difficult for the audience. And a pun reference to @worldrecordegg invited to reflect on the exercises of vigilance and privacy, celebrity idolatry and the indignant necessity to buy affection through fake followers and red hearts emoji.
Curated by: Maria Adelaida Samper
Photos by: Juan Pablo Salazar