(please view on desktop)
view into Pandemonium VR
produced during BEYOND MATTER residency 2021 - ZKM
Risk residency Radar, Loughborough University 2020
exhibited at Tallinn Art Hall, Lasnamae Pavilion, from 17th February 2023
VITAL REALISM: PANDEMONIUM IN THE REAL
Wild Bits Maajaam, Estonia
Motivation statement *
During the pandemic I was selected for the Beyond Matter residency at ZKM, that included Tirana Art Lab, and the Tallinn Art Hall.
The residency examined how virtual reality tools can question materiality and offer ways into other dimensions such as experience, visualization, imagination, sensory perception, atmosphere.
The new VR work ‘Pandemonium’ will be exhibited for the first time in the exhibition Immerse at Tallinn Art Hall, opening 17th February 2023, in a few weeks time.
The work took the moment presented during the pandemic where animals roamed the city in the absence of humans, to reconnect with an earlier work Low Animal Spirits, that speaks to the mythologizing of animal behaviours in the market place.
I utilised this moment to draw attention to an amplified sense of ‘liveliness’ that everyone was experiencing, where humans were forced to realise that the air, and everything around them, was far more lively than they had previously realised, and points to how distanced everyday life is from nature.
The surrealist artist and occultist Ithel Colquhoun proposed that the earth was ‘alive’ early 20th century, which was radical for the time, now it’s science. There are ways of seeing/sensing at increasingly small scales (as well as a hugely extended reach into space), where technology adds extraordinary insights into the complexity of things.
The work at Maajaam furthers this project, working at a highly sensitive scale of listening, in order to share the everyday ‘pandemonium’, from the surrounding environment.
Please listen to the clip provided in the online link below to the Pandemonium VR Youtube channel.
360 degree capture of Pandemonium VR
YouTube channel: Pandemonium VR
this is best viewed on a smart phone - which acts a little like the VR headset looking into the 'world'
- it is a 360 capture from the VR so is meant as a glimpse into the environment,
but is quite different from the immersive experience of VR
you can scroll around the environment by swiping the screen (but remain located in one place)
VITAL REALISM: PANDEMONIUM IN THE REAL
Wild Bits Maajaam, Estonia
Project summary *
A remote sound sensing apparatus, accessed via live youtube channel.
I will survey the wild landscape around Maajaam to find several sites (one underwater) at which I can locate highly sensitive audio equipment, and an electromagnetic pick up, that combine together, revealing the complexity of a wild sensory aural landscape
The work draws upon my previous VR work Pandemonium, which utilised an amplified sense of ‘liveliness’ in the sound scape, that changed each time you entered the work. A variety of sounds were sited around the VR environment that the visitor would wander through, that made a very lively listening experience (alongside a very lively VR environment).
I am interested in making an ‘apparatus’ that locates these in the wild where cross-species contaminations mingle with technological glitches, in an immersive sound work.
The sound sensing devices will facilitate a remote sensing of the environment, accessible via a live youtube video.
Pandemonium (do androids dream of?)’ nests like a bad weather gift shop snow globe in The Underlying and situates the viewer in the heart of a strangely familiar deserted city (London), inviting the participant to explore an eerily decimated financial district (City of London Corporation, around Bank) reclaimed by a virtual wilding, way too lively by far – a pandemonium - where the kinds of animal spirits often associated with the markets get re-calibrated to address the climate crisis.
The work 'Pandemonium' includes a VR environment with accompanying twitter bot @trackntracer, deployed as a ‘research assistant’ taking the temperature of public debate, rt’ing mentions of track and trace since Nov 20. What’s super interesting is how all these previously unspoken issues revealed by the contact tracing apps, are being spoken about in the public domain now, re: privacy, agency, and trust - that crystallize around the new oil that is data data data – whether 'biomedical' or 'behavioural analysis' – with a little more understanding re how these datasets go on to inform the different realities that the future holds.
Animal behaviours* have always been used to describe the ‘inexpressible’ drive, the life source, of the market. But, whilst the animal spirits of the economist Keynes ‘Low Animal Spirits’ drive the market through bullish opportunistic behaviours, the critters in Pandemonium roam the deserted financial district, and speak of ‘zoonotic spillover’ – viral jumps between animal and human - that exemplify the interdependencies revealed by the pandemic. That evade categorisation by almost becoming their own species, live as kin with their humanoid siblings, point to a nature that is naturally queer, and to a synchronised desire to do things differently – that takes account of contingency to develop fluid data practices that are consensual and oscillate between being in/visible, as necessary.
* Writing in the Economist in November 2021, Mike Bird - Asia business and finance editor, writes: “hyenas, vultures, lions and wildebeest featured in January 2021 in an imaginative description by Thomas Friedman, an American commentator, of the feeding frenzy over a handful of American stocks. Referring to GameStop, a consumer-electronics retailer at the centre of the frenzy, Mr Friedman said the stock would eventually go back to four to five dollars". Depictions that perpetuate the myth of the market through a process of naturalisation as “the circle of life” .
‘Pandemonium / Do Androids Dream of Pandemonium?’ nests like a bad weather giftshop snowglobe in The Underlying, developed during the Beyond Matter residency at art and media organisation: ZKM, Karlsruhe Germany, with material also developed during a ‘risk’ related residency at Radar, Loughborough. The work consists of a VR environment with an accompanying twitter bot @trackntracer, deployed as a ‘research assistant’ - taking the temperature of public debate, rt’ing mentions of track and trace since Nov 20 - and online dashboard (see above) that draws out important issues to do with: privacy, agency, and trust, revealed by the app.
The track and trace apps quite naturally exceed all previous anxieties regarding surveillance, reaching across bio-medical practice to behavioural analysis, and, at the same time, held the promise of a pragmatic approach, which, seemingly, when used in combination with measures such as mask wearing, social distancing protocols and an effective vaccination programme, promised a return to being able to co-mingle, once again.
The often un-acknowledged role of data - the new oil - central to the dual requirements of the app, where concerns re trust, privacy and agency are poorly addressed by current practices and legislation - resulted in a void quickly filled by conspiracy theories. As a result, the twitter bot @trackntracer shows a volatile feed where concerns crystallize around biomedical data, privacy, personal freedoms, and a wild variety of conspiritualities, as conspiracy theories meet the wellness industry. Many of which relate to data management and analysis that raise security and privacy concerns, with worries about mission creep made possible by the financial underpinnings of the app. See my writing on this during the residency on Risk, Radar, Loughborough University 2021. The online dashboard informs the VR work and draws on the contradictions within data practice today. It references the Epidemic Preparedness Index produced by virus hunters working with the re-insurance company Metabiota that naturally include: socio-economic issues with levels of trust in government, as well as pollution of the mediasphere, in their appraisal of ‘preparedness’. The dashboard shows sentiment and emotion analysis of the twitter feed, with air pollution local to ZKM and Radar Loughborough.