17 W Broadway, Vancouver, BC
Role: Co-curator with Daniel Jefferies
An Honest Mimic
A group exhibition
July 15th - September 3rd, 2016
With works by Rachael Archibald, David Bayus, Pieter Jossa, Sara Ludy, Kristel Saan, Hagihara Takuya.
Visual simulations of human selfhood populate the online world. They conjure an anxiety brought upon by the unsettling yet subtle otherness characteristic of digital replications. The imperative to translate identity online hinges on a deep disjuncture between the realness of the organic world and the constructedness of the virtual. This unresolvable tension fuels the insatiable impulse to perform and present one’s self – digitally.
The alchemical otherness manifest in the digital replica applies to the hardware and software of new technologies themselves. Digital objects possess their own unsettling animism – they communicate, reproduce, and die. The intriguing aliveness of the very instruments used to represent the physical self contributes to a dynamic spectrum of vitality that oscillates between humans and machines. This is the paradigm through which artists navigate the productive dualities of the organic and synthetic, the real and virtual. For many the virtual is indeed an escape from the real, a haven that has become less accessible as the two domains collapse in on each other.
This is the phenomenon developed within this exhibition, that of the “digital uncanny” – the elusive border between the real of a human and the virtual of their avatar. A space initially described by Sigmund Freud psychoanalytically as “the boundary between fantasy and reality when a symbol takes on the full function and significance of what it symbolizes…”. The dividing line between the facsimile and its original has all but lost its significance in a world which favours the symbolic over the real.
This realm of the hyperreal has produced a new sort of portraiture, which personifies the inanimate and is inhabited by digital imposters.